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Skoda Octavia 2015 review

EXPERT RATING
5
The best thing about the Skoda Octavia is the boot. It's a truly enormous rear, yet it hides inside a car that looks just like an everyday four-door sedan and nothing remotely like a cavernous hatchback. The only giveaway is the wiper on the rear window. The boot, with a capacity well over 500L without even bothering

The best thing about the Skoda Octavia is the boot. It's a truly enormous rear, yet it hides inside a car that looks just like an everyday four-door sedan and nothing remotely like a cavernous hatchback. The only giveaway is the wiper on the rear window.

The boot, with a capacity well over 500L without even bothering to fold the back seats, is the most surprising I've struck since the first time I drove a Saab 900 kombi coupe. That was in the early 1980s.

The beaut boot is typical of Skoda's design department, which usually takes a twist on the Volkswagen Group cash and parts to create its cars.

So the Octavia is really a teased and tweaked Golf or Jetta, just as the Fabia is a Czech take on the Polo. It's bigger, without a doubt, but the chassis and mechanical package comes from a parts bin called MQB that eventually will spawn more than 25 cars in the extended VW family.

For the Octavia, Skoda has stretched the wheelbase to gain extra space in the rear seat and boot, while taking conventional bits from Volkswagen — the 1.4-litre turbo, transmissions and even the dashboard layout.

The hatch's boot is so big it would take special cargo, perhaps a big dog or a travelling roadshow, before you'd think about moving up to the wagon.

Skoda cars usually provide extra value and interest beyond a VW badge but I'm not convinced by the new Octavia.

The starting price of $21,690 is all right but not great, ditto the quality. The styling is ho-hum and the driving experience does not match a Golf for comfort and cushiness.

Even the electric window switches feel cheaper than an equivalent Golf.

Does that matter? Will people care?

Probably not, because Skoda says it draws from a different pool in Australia and it's also obvious that most people — especially people who would buy a Mazda or Subaru or Honda — are not aware of the VW family ties.

But back to the Octavia, because it's a car that needs assessment in the crowded mid-sized class where the Mazda6 still rules as CarsGuide champion, and Ford is about to unleash an all-new Mondeo that could run right to the top.

It's great for highway cruising

The Octavia is roomy and comfortable, with a rear seat that's good for families, and it gets along fairly well. I only say "fairly" because the heft of the car takes the edge off the 1.4-litre turbo engine, which only makes 103kW.

It's not helped by a seven-speed double-clutch auto that's tuned for economy and does not have paddle-shifters to allow a quick downshift for overtaking or hills.

It's great for highway cruising, when it's also quiet, but again there are limits. The audio is not great, the multimedia screen and reversing picture are tiny in comparison with numerous cars including even the Honda Jazz, and there is nothing special about the cabin layout.

The more time I spend with the Octavia, the less I like it. It's all right as transport but the game has moved on in the mid-sized battle and I just know the all-new Passat will be a lot more impressive when it arrives.

I'm won back, a bit, when I do the shopping and then load the youngster's bicycle in the boot for a trip to the park. It's a reminder that the Octavia is a real hauler.

The boot is beaut

The car is also fine for braking, does nothing nasty in corners and is relatively frugal at the pumps.

So, do I expect too much from Skoda? Perhaps. But it has always delivered surprise and delight in the past. And the Superb stablemate genuinely lives up to its name and is one of my favourite family cars for less than $50,000.

Verdict

So the Octavia is a nice car, the boot is beaut — but nice is not nearly good enough for The Tick.

Pricing guides

$18,990
Based on 55 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$12,820
Highest Price
$27,770

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
103 TSI Ambition 1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $14,625 – 14,888 2015 Skoda Octavia 2015 103 TSI Ambition Pricing and Specs
103 TSI Ambition Plus 1.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $8,900 – 13,420 2015 Skoda Octavia 2015 103 TSI Ambition Plus Pricing and Specs
103 TSI Elegance 1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $12,200 – 17,710 2015 Skoda Octavia 2015 103 TSI Elegance Pricing and Specs
110 TDI Elegance 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP $13,500 – 19,470 2015 Skoda Octavia 2015 110 TDI Elegance Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
5