2014 Skoda Octavia wagon and sedan road test review
THERE is little doubt that Skoda, so popular in Europe, has been trying to emulate the Australian success of its Volkswagen cousin.
While the Octavia and Yeti have found favour here, it has been tough going convincing a somewhat sceptical new audience to stray from the tried and tested.
Skoda has countered criticism with on-road performance and generous inclusions.
But the new Octavia, a great value-for-money proposition should stir the fires as it offers medium car comforts at a small-car price.
The Octavia is offered in three models in three trim choices and with a starting price of $21,690, it will hold a definite appeal to young families in particular.
Skoda has retained a sense of the understated in this new Octavia using soft-touch materials throughout the cabin, highlighted briefly by brush metal-look accents. Cheaper plastics are confined to those areas not easily seen or touched often.
Instruments are simple yet effective while the layout of the dials and buttons keeps those most used close to hand. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is nice and solid to the touch with the mounted controls confined to the necessities.
The seats, cloth in our sedan test car, were covered in fashionable fabrics and fairly comfortable even on longer journeys. They could do with a bit more bolstering though and a touch more support in the lower back. Space is one of the advantages of the Octavia and there is plenty of room for occupants in both pews to stretch out a bit in comfort.
The boot, at 568 litres (588 in the wagon) with the seats in position, is a luxurious possibility and you can pack away luggage or the family shop with ease.
On the road
Our test sedan sported a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine featuring a seven-speed DSG while our wagon was driven by a 1.8-litre turbo petrol.
You also have the choice of a 2.0-litre turbo diesel.
We had little expectation of our small 1.4-litre unit, thinking it would struggle under load up some of the steep inclines that pepper our usual test route. We are happy to report that we were most pleasantly surprised with the Octavia 103TSI's get up and go, its ability to get up to speed at will and its deftness of foot in the confines of suburbia.
It is delightfully settled, putting on a quiet, comfortable drive even on less than perfect roads. The Octavia holds its line well even when pushed quickly through corners. It negotiates tricky stretches well and highway driving is a definite pleasure.
The wagon's 1.8-litre stuck to the task too. It has the same torque as the 1.4-litre but a wider power band.
The only notable difference we found between the engines was under load, with the wagon giving the feeling of relaxed capability.
The DSG transmissions have a sequential shift option - unfortunately no paddle shifters - but the overall performance is pleasing.
What do you get?
Value for money is one of Skoda's tenets with this new Octavia and the inclusions, even in the Ambition base model is impressive.
Fog lights, daytime running lights, a four-speaker audio system, Bluetooth connectivity and tinted glass are among the features list.
The Ambition has an option Travel Pack which will give you 17-inch alloys, rear parking sensors, eight-speaker stereo, front arm rest and cruise control for $1300.
Buyers of the Ambition Plus and Elegance can opt for the Tech Pack ($3900 and $3300 respectively) which adds bi-xenon headlights, adaptive cruise control, premium sound system, keyless entry, parking assistance and emergency braking.
The Octavia has a five-star safety package which includes either seven or nine airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability control, traction control and a number of other active and passive systems depending on the model you opt for.
While the Skoda Octavia is priced like a small car, most of its competition will come from the Mazda6 (from $33,460), Hyundai i40 (from $31,990), Subaru Liberty (from $32,990) and the Honda Accord (from $31,490).
The wagon faces the Holden Cruze Sportswagon CDX (from $26,190), Volkswagen Golf Wagon 103TSI (from $33,840) and the Hyundai i30 Tourer Elite (from $31,390).
The appeal of the Skoda Octavia is easy to see - priced well, drives comfortably and has oodles of space. Skoda has a tradition of adding that little extra. Sometimes it's an umbrella under the arm rest or an activity box in the boot - in the Octavia it is a little rubbish bin in the door pocket complete with a liner.
Official figures place our 103TSI test car at 5.2 litres/100km and 6.1 litres/100km for the wagon. Our experience found consumption closer to the 7L/100km mark which is far from worrying. Skoda offers a three-year unlimited kilometre warranty that can be extended and a capped-price servicing plan.
Little has been done to the outside of the Octavia and it continues to present a demure but refined face. Lines are sharper, it has a sleeker front, a larger grille, a streamlined profile and is the first Skoda to sport the new logo.
WHAT MATTERS MOST
What we liked: Roomy interior, confident drive, good inclusions.
What we'd like to see: Reverse camera, powered seats.
Warranty and servicing: Skoda offers a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty with fixed price servicing for up to six years or 90,000km. Service intervals are at 15,000km. Average price for 1.4-litre engine is $340, while 1.8-litre powerplant is $399.
Model: Skoda Octavia 103 TSI sedan.
Details: Five-door front-wheel drive small-medium sedan.
Transmission: Six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG.
Engine: 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol generating maximum power of 103kW @ 5000rpm and peak torque of 250Nm between 1500rpm-3500rpm.
Consumption: 5.2 litres/100km (combined average).
Bottom line plus on-roads: $26,790 for 103TSI Sedan (Ambition manual at $21,690).
Model: Skoda Octavia 132TSI wagon.
Details: Five-door front-wheel drive small-medium wagon.
Transmission: Seven-speed DSG.
Engine: 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol generating maximum power of 132kW @ 6000rpm and peak torque of 250Nm between 1250rpm-5000rpm.
Consumption: 6.1litres/100km (combined average).
Bottom line plus on-roads: $36,040.