Skoda Octavia is all-new from the ground up and continues the long-time design that gives maximum interior space with excellent occupant comfort. It has been reduced in price compared with the model it supersedes and is being promoted as providing value and European image.
Prices begin at a tempting $21,690, plus on-road costs, for the Skoda Octavia Ambition with manual transmission. Introductory deals are being done to reduce on-road costs, no time limit has been announced at this stage, but it might be an idea to make an early move.
Nothing really stands out in the shape of the Octavia, it's sensible and logical, and probably timeless. At the front there are hints of big-brother Audi style with its squared off lines, which is no bad thing.
We liked the previous Skoda badges for their green highlight colours and feel the new all-in-chrome design makes it look like just about everyone else's badges from a distance.
We have long admired Skoda's interiors, not so much the styling -- which is decent without being exciting -- but their practicality. Skoda Octavia isn't a large car but has interior room that rivals many cars of the next size up. There's room for two six-footers sitting behind one another, when so often the driver (usually me, one of the six-footers) has to slide the seat forward to be polite to the person behind.
Octavia is sold as a five-door hatch or station wagon. While classed as a five-seater, Octavia's back seat is better suited to three children for width. Two adults will have plenty of room to move.
The luggage area in the Octavia wagon is impressive in its volume and usability, but the hatch isn't far behind. The tailgate of both bodies is full width to give maximum access to the area. Boot depth is exceptionally good. The boot mat is reversible, with carpet on one side and rubber on the other, the latter just right for soggy dogs, surfboards and the like. The centre of the rear seatback has a hatch to permit carriage of long items. The seatback has a 60/40 split fold.
This Skoda has a really clever feature; small folding plastic folding pieces with Velcro on the bottom that can stick to the carpet in any position to wedge things into place. Have a look at this when you head to your Skoda dealer to check out a car, note this feature isn't in the lowest cost model.
There are also metal tie-down hooks on the boot floor and plastic clips on the upper surfaces at the side from which to hang supermarket plastic bags. Safety for people as well as the stuff they're carrying.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Two turbo-petrol and one turbo-diesel engine are on offer. Capacities are 1.4, 1.8 and 2.0 litres. Power outputs are 103, 132 and 110 kilowatts respectively. The petrols both have the same maximum torque of 250 Nm, but the spread in the more powerful unit is greater, going all the way from 1250 to 5000 revs.
This compares with a still good 1500 to 2500 from the 103 kW engine. Torque is a big feature of any diesel and 320 Nm is there between 1750 and 3000 rpm. Six-speed manual and seven-speed DSG transmissions are installed, though the choice varies from model to model.
All models have a five-star safety rating and a minimum of seven airbags. Crash prevention and/or minimisation uses the latest in European design that has the Octavia looking ahead for possible danger, advising the driver of problems, then taking over to brake automatically.
The all-new Skoda Octavia shares the same MQB matrix platform as used in the latest Volkswagen and Audi bodies. Its clever design has stripped up to 100 kg from the mass of the Octavia and added rigidity at the same time.
While our test driving showed it to be as strong as in other cars we have driven, the Skoda didn't appear to be as quiet as the others. It's certainly not noisy, and we weren't able to do comprehensive back to back testing. Perhaps it was the roads we drove on or maybe the large volume of the Octavia's body makes it harder to suppress sound.
Handling is good thanks to the solid platform, with a good feel through the steering. The big Czech has an easy going nature and made light of harsh Australian country roads.
Around 70 per cent of all Skoda Octavia sales in Australia to date have been station wagons and it's not hard to see why. The company has a new chief in Australia, German Michael Irmer, who is determined to lift sales from levels that have been disappointing to date. The plan to promote the Octavia as providing European engineering at a modest price should certainly help it in the sales race.
2013 SKODA OCTAVIA RANGE
Ambition 103TSI 1.4-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch: from $21,690 (manual), $23,990 (DSG automatic)
Ambition 103TSI 1.4-litre turbo-petrol five-door wagon: from $23,040 (manual), $25,340 (DSG automatic)
Ambition Plus 103TSI 1.4-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch: from $24,490 (manual), $26,790 (DSG automatic)
Ambition Plus 103TSI 1.4-litre turbo-petrol five-door wagon: from $25,840 (manual), $28,140 (DSG automatic)
Elegance 103TSI 1.4-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch: from $32,190 (DSG automatic)
Elegance 103TSI 1.4-litre turbo-petrol five-door wagon: from $33,540 (DSG automatic)
Elegance 132TSI 1.8-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch: from $34,690 (DSG automatic)
Elegance 132TSI 1.8-litre turbo-petrol five-door wagon: from $36,040 (DSG automatic)
Elegance 110TDI 2.0-litre turbo-diesel five-door hatch: from $35,490 (DSG automatic)
Elegance 110TDI 2.0-litre turbo-diesel five-door wagon: from $36,840 (DSG automatic)
2014 Skoda Octavia
Price: from $21,690 (Ambition manual sedan)
Engine: 1.4L four-cylinder petrol turbo, 103kW/250Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual or 7-speed DSG, FWD
Thirst: 5.2L/100km, 121g/km CO2