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2021 Skoda Octavia detailed: Why the Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata and Mazda 6 rival's expected auto switch is likely good news for buyers

The all-new Skoda Octavia 110TSI out early in 2021 is set to ditch DSG for a more conventional auto.

Skoda’s completely redesigned Octavia will launch early next year, and is expected to bring a more conventional automatic option that could be more in line with Australian family car drivers' tastes.

According to information published recently by an Australian government vehicle homologation body, that often previews new vehicle specifications before they're officially announced, the current base Octavia110TSI's automatic transmission is in line to be replaced by a more common torque converter unit.  

Unlike the existing seven-speed dual-clutch auto transmission (DSG in Volkswagen Group-speak), the all-new NX-generation Octavia will reportedly adopt an eight-speed torque-converter auto.

This transmission spec is linked to the 110kW/250Nm 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, as per the corresponding (and also imminent) Volkswagen Mk8 Golf, and is also set to be available in lieu of the standard six-speed manual gearbox in the base 110TSI.

The same powertrain arrived in the Australian version of the related Skoda Karoq 110TSI earlier this year, but as with the Czech brand’s small SUV, the higher-end Octavia performance variants coming later in 2021 are expected feature a DSG.

Like the Karoq, the rationale behind using the 1.4-litre and torque-converter automatic in Octavia over the 1.5-litre/DSG powertrain combination offered elsewhere in the world is likely to be rooted in Australia’s petrol and emissions standards, which are criticised in some quarters for lagging behind European standards.

According to a Volkswagen Group Australia spokesperson, because Australia “…retains the most sulphurous petrol in the OECD, we carry over the 1.4 engine”, leading to the conclusion that the 1.5-litre/DSG powertrain available in the 2021 Octavia elsewhere in the world might be compromised by sulphur levels.

Depending on its state of tune, the torque-converter auto in the 2021 Octavia is likely to be more in line with the comparatively lag-free throttle responses as offered in most regular mainstream rivals, as we've experience with the non-hybrid Toyota Camry and Mazda6, as well as slightly the slightly smaller 2.0-litre Kia Cerato and Mazda3.

As published, the Octavia eight-speed auto will offer an extra forward ratio over the seven-speed DSG it usurps, theoretically improving driveability and – hopefully – engine response.

This in turn could boost the next Octavia 110TSI’s resale values, since it will neatly sidestep any residual DSG reliability concerns. As widely reported in the past, some earlier versions of this type of transmission are known for faults and failures, which have resulted in many recalls and highly-publicised legal action in the past.

Though relatively complex and sophisticated in design, DSGs typically also provide real-world benefits over torque-converter automatics, namely palpably reduced fuel consumption and emissions, as well as far-faster and smoother gear shifts in certain conditions.

However, since the first DSG model arrived in Australia (Audi’s 3.2-litre V6-powered TT S-line in 2004), torque converter autos have generally experienced dramatic progress in efficiency and refinement, almost closing the gap over their dual-clutch alternatives.

In its VW-era incarnation, the Octavia was at the forefront of the Skoda brand’s return to Australia in 2007, launching with torque-converter autos in its first two or so years, before switching to the DSG from the 2008 Scout crossover onwards.