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As sedans fall out of favour with the Australian populace, Skoda’s Octavia occupies an increasingly secure niche.
The Octavia does what Skoda has always been best at: finding a niche which its parent company, VW doesn’t quite fill, and presenting a quirky option for customers looking for something a little unusual.
According to Skoda, demand was such for sporty Octavias, that it had to introduce a permanent Sport variant for those who want some of the look and feel of its go-fast RS range without the larger price tag.
A niche car for a niche audience, then. Does the Octavia Sport deliver where others don’t? We took one for a week to find out.
|Skoda Octavia 2020: SPORT|
|Engine Type||1.4L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Well, for a start, it’s a sedan which is sadly becoming an increasingly rare sight on our roads. It has a flat boot lid, but the rear window lifts with it, so some might consider it a hatch.
The Sport Edition is particularly appealing, with its stark white paint contrasted with racy black accents.
A front diffuser, fresh grille insert, rear lip spoiler and swish two-tone wheels (in contrasting gloss black) make for an angry looking little car. The LED headlights and neatly proportioned silver badgework are classy touches.
The inside of the Octavia brings a VW vibe in all the right ways. The ergonomics are lovely, and the touch points are clad in quality materials.
The dash and centre console look relatively dated with some cheaper materials used, but that's only in comparison with more recently updated contemporaries.
The abundance of window space makes for an airy interior, and the ‘Virtual Cockpit’ digital instrument display dials up the wow factor. It’s bright, clear, and configurable through multiple layouts.
I even enjoyed the front cloth sport seats, and brushed alloy-look plastic inserts help brighten an otherwise uniformly black interior.
If there’s one thing Skoda has proved it’s good at, it’s interior space and features.
Again, the Octavia soars as its long body accommodates five passengers with ease. Indeed, it’s worth considering against a Golf, as it shares the same width, just with extra length.
In the Sport variant, front passengers are treated to sportier seats with extra side bolstering as well as four large bottle holders (two in the doors, two in the centre), a small centre console box with variable-height armrest/lid on top, and a relatively deep tray up front, suitable for phones and loose items, which also hosts dual USB ports.
There are also small bins , and a passenger side glove box which houses the CD player and other multimedia connectivity.
The low seats make for plenty of headroom, although you do have to crouch down a fair way to clamber into the Octavia.
Sneaky touches include an umbrella holder under the front passenger seat, a removable bin fitting in the door cards and a Volvo-style ticket holder on the windscreen.
Full marks for excellent rear leg and headroom, with other back seat pluses including directional air vents, pockets on front seatbacks, and a small flip-out box on the back of the centre console. But there are no power outlets or USB ports for rear passengers.
The boot is gigantic, weighing in at 568 litres (VDA), a benefit of the liftback hatch design, and comes complete with all sorts of smart Skoda bits, like multiple tie-down points, grocery hooks, easy-reach release levers for the rear seats, a ski-port, and a set of plastic dividers which Velcro to the floor.
There’s no getting ripped off on the spare wheel either, the Sport gets a full-size spare under the floor.
The Octavia Sport wears a drive-away price of $35,290 which is great value, especially in light of the standard features list.
Included is an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, 18-inch alloys, LED headlights with auto-dipping high beams, the special cloth seat trim, flat bottomed steering wheel and other exterior Sport touches, as well as dual-zone climate control.
You can transform this car with two option packs – the 'Tech Pack' ($3900) which includes things like a larger touchscreen, and the 'Luxury Pack' ($1600) which brings leather seats among other items.
These are hard to recommend given the base car comes with almost everything you’ll really need. I certainly didn’t feel like our car, which had neither pack, was lacking.
That said, without them there are a few small giveaways that you’re a long way from the top-spec model, like manually adjustable seats and the lack of a push-button ignition.
Adaptive cruise control is standard as part of the Sport’s active safety suite which is detailed in the Safety section of this review.
Competitors? You could conceivably cross shop this sedan against the Mazda 6 Sedan (Sport - $35,790), Hyundai Sonata (Active - $30,990), and it’s significantly cheaper than its VW equivalent – the more powerful Passat 132TSI ($37,790).
The Sport variant is only available with the VW group’s 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine producing 110kW/250Nm.
There is a manual available elsewhere in the range, but the Sport drives the front wheels by way of a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic only.
This configuration wears a claimed combined cycle fuel figure of 5.2L/100km. After my week behind the wheel, I recorded 10.2L/100km.
This comes with the caveat that it was a particularly rainy week and I ended up sitting through far more traffic than usual. Also, this car is much more fun to drive when pushed, so perhaps our figure was not so representative of a usual weekly drive.
The Octavia runs on mid-grade 95 RON unleaded petrol.
For such an innocent looking car, the Octavia Sport is a blast behind the wheel. The firm suspension, quick steering and grippy tyres make for a tight and engaging drive.
While it might not be blisteringly quick, this Octavia is more than happy to carve up whatever corner you can throw at it.
It refused to understeer when I had a go at pushing it, speaking to its ability, but also possibly its aggressive, low profile (not to mention expensive) Bridgestone Turanza rubber.
On the topic of speed, the relatively small-capacity engine can be a tad sluggish off the mark, similar to its application in other VW Group products. But once peak torque appears (from 1500rpm) it’s swift enough to add some excitement to an otherwise average commute.
Turbo lag can conspire with the stop-start system and dual-clutch transmission to occasionally catch the car with barely any power under foot.
It can be frustrating at T-junctions, and ultimately had us switching off the stop-start system or hopping on the accelerator a full second early to compensate.
While I was pleased with the raspy, distant engine note and generally quiet ride, poor road surfaces eventually crash their way into the cabin, the cost of a sporty drive.
With so little tyre sidewall to play with, it can get a little tiresome over sub-par surfaces. It’s a fun but hardly luxurious set-up.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The Octavia comes with a suite of active safety features as standard, including auto emergency braking (AEB – works up to freeway speeds), active cruise control, and driver attention alert.
Sadly, lane keep assist and blind spot monitoring are part of the Luxury Pack, which is worth considering if safety is a high priority.
The Sport grade gets two extra airbags over the base car, for a total of nine, one of the most comprehensive airbag suites in a car this size.
The Octavia has the expected stability, brake and traction controls, alongside dual ISOFIX and three top tether child seat mounting points across the rear row. It holds a maximum five star ANCAP safety rating as of June 2016.
Skoda offers a five year/unlimited kilometre warranty on its entire range with one year of roadside assist included.
The Octavia requires servicing once a year or 15,000km, whichever comes first, and service pricing is far cheaper via the brand’s 'Service Pack' model.
The service packs can be folded in on finance at the time of purchase and are offered in three ($800) or five-year brackets ($1400). The fact that either option comes in at under $300 per year is impressive.
Skoda’s Octavia Sport proves there are still excellent options out there for those who don’t want an SUV.
So long as ride comfort isn’t top of your wish list, the Sport is fun to drive, with plenty of room for passengers, and it packs almost all the tech features you might be looking for at a compelling price.
|110 TSI BASE||1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$27,390||2020 Skoda Octavia 2020 110 TSI BASE Pricing and Specs|
|RS 245||2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$46,990||2020 Skoda Octavia 2020 RS 245 Pricing and Specs|
|SPORT||1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$32,290||2020 Skoda Octavia 2020 SPORT Pricing and Specs|
|110 TSI BASE||1.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$26,990||2020 Skoda Octavia 2020 110 TSI BASE Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||7|