Skoda belongs to VAG automotive group: Volkswagen, Audi, Seat, Skoda.
It is a nice car, with a onboard computer that tells consumption in real time.
The EPA rating do not exist for this car in the US. The closest car is the Volkswagen Jetta 1.9 diesel 5 speed manual:
The idea was taken from another member with own a Skoda Octavia also. The idea is
a) For better aerodynamics. Significative at high speeds.
b) To speed warm up of the engine in Winter and in short trips. Very important as diesel yields a lot less when cold.
c) To avoid excesive cooling of car when on the road.
d) To slow down cooling of the engine in a stop for lunch, for example.
One trade-off may be that admission air may become hotter in some degree, as it is aspirated on the upper level of the engine compartment. However, on march, air enters through the big vent open below. So, hotter air may be sucked mainly when in stand still, not on speed. I haven´t measure for sure.
The car comes with belly cover, has a factory installed computer (very accurate), that helps a lot to manage acceleration to get better fuel yield.