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Skoda Octavia


Hyundai Tucson

Summary

Skoda Octavia

The Skoda Octavia 2018 range offers buyers unparalleled pragmatism, and a broad range of options to suit varied budgets.

It may not be as attractive as it was prior to its most recent facelift, but there is plenty to like if you can look beyond the challenging front-end design.

There's the choice of a five-door hatchback (which looks like a sedan), or a five-door station wagon - and with Skoda buyers being pragmatic, the wagon is the more popular body style. So that's what we've got here, and in the new Sport trim line. 

Consider yourself intrigued? Read on to find out more.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency4.9L/100km
Seating5 seats

Hyundai Tucson

 The Hyundai Tucson was never going to be left looking out of place amidst the Korean company's more aggressively-styled SUV line-up - and so what you see here is the mid-life update of the popular mid-size SUV. 

Admittedly, the Hyundai Tucson 2019 model doesn't look exactly like the smaller Kona or larger seven-seat Santa Fe, both of which are more... evil looking. 

But there are some minor cosmetic changes for this updated Tucson model - and the underlying story here is that the amendments go beyond the metal.

The Tucson's tech has been upgraded, and so have the drivetrains - plus the model range has been tweaked. How does it all stack up? Let's get down to the nitty gritty.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.9L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Skoda Octavia8/10

The Skoda Octavia 2018 Sport wagon may run the same 110TSI drivetrain as the regular base model car, but its chassis and design tweaks make it a worthwhile model to consider if you want something that stands out a little bit from the rest of the Octavia pack.

If you want an RS wagon but can't afford one, you really ought to take a look at this car. 

Would you consider a wagon over a hatchback? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.


Hyundai Tucson7.8/10

Does the facelifted 2019 Hyundai Tucson change the game for the mid-size SUV segment? Not really.  But it does improve an already well-rounded package.

The availability of the SmartSense safety pack on lower grades is welcome, even if some competitors offer some of the kit as standard. Even so, it'd be hard to go past the value on offer in an Active X 2.0-litre FWD model with the safety pack, which is our pick of the range - even if at least some of the safety stuff should really be standard. 

What spec of Hyundai Tucson would you choose? Tell us in the comments section below.

Design

Skoda Octavia7/10

I didn't like the new look for the Octavia when Skoda revealed it early in 2017, and I wasn't alone. The once-handsome Czech mid-size model had been taken to with the ugly stick, with the dual-headlight look appearing to make the model look, well, nothing like a model.

In some colour combinations it's not too bad - a red RS245 with the black gloss grille, for example, looks tidy. But the Octavia Sport model you see here in white just looked a little bit… spidery, I'd say. Yeah, spidery.

The Sport model is accentuated by black pinstripes here and there, and look, I reckon the design of the wagon is a lot more becoming than the hatch. But if you value style as much as substance, consider the svelte Mazda6 is available for close to the same money…

The dimensions of the Skoda Octavia vary between the hatch and wagon, and the regular model vs the RS - yep, there's a bit of a size difference, but it's pretty miniscule. Here are the main numbers you need to know.

The hatch is 4670mm long (2686mm wheelbase), 1461mm tall and 1814mm wide. The regular wagon isn't as long at 4667mm (2686mm wheelbase), but sits a bit taller (1465mm) and is the same width (1814mm).

Thankfully the interior dimensions are accommodating, and the design in the cabin is very, very smart.


Hyundai Tucson8/10

The exterior design of the updated Tucson is largely unchanged - the metalwork hasn't been altered, but there are new graphic differentiators if you take a look at the lights at either end of the SUV.

Hyundai's new cascading grille design dominates the front end, and while the shape of the headlights hasn't changed, the inlays have, and along with the new bumper there are more angular LED daytime running lights. You can tell the higher-grade versions by the horizontal slatted chrome grille, while entry models have a black honeycomb look with a silver frame.

Sadly, you can only get LED headlights on the top spec, but the appearance on lower grade models which run halogen projector lamps is really dumbed down by the mix of crisp white angular lights and a round, yellowy bulb in the middle.

The tail-lights are slightly different looking - again, with a different inlay, and again with LED only fitted to the top spec. The reflectors have moved up a bit, mirroring the i30's Euro-look back end.

As you may expect, there's no difference to the dimensions - it's the same size from nose to tail at 4480mm long, 1850mm wide and up to 1660mm tall (with roof rails).

No matter which model you get, there's not a sporty edge to the Tucson - you can forget about a body kit or rear diffuser, but there is a tailgate spoiler. A set of side steps could be fitted, but may be unnecessary, because the Tucson doesn't sit up that high. 

You guessed it, the interior dimensions are unchanged, too. But as the interior images show, there are now different options when it comes to the colour of the leather you can get. You can choose the lighter leather as part of a 'Luxury Pack'.

Practicality

Skoda Octavia9/10

Skoda is a marvel when it comes to interior packaging, and the Octavia is perhaps the most impressive exponent of this. It really packs a lot in to relatively compact dimensions.

Boot space is perhaps one of the biggest advantages to the Octavia, with the hatch's luggage capacity spanning 568 litres, and the wagon offering up 588L (that measurement is to the window line). There's a spare wheel under the boot floor (you get a space-saver in RS models) and the back end features a dual-sided mat so you can put damp items in the back without damaging the carpet. 

Of course there's a couple of clever inclusions like flip-down shopping bag hooks, remote release levers for the split fold seats (they go down in a 60:40 fashion, and there's a clever ski-port for loading through longer items), and there's a dual-action cargo blind. You get a mesh net system, a removable torch and an umbrella, too. 

Plus the space on offer for occupants is very good. A family of five, plus luggage, will fit in here easily, with the back seat offering enough rear legroom, headroom and shoulder room for adults, too. With the driver's seat in my driving position (I'm 182cm) I had easily enough room to sit comfortably. 

Storage is well thought out, too, with bottle holders in all four doors, map pockets in the back, rear air-vents and a flip-down armrest with cupholders. The materials aren't as plush as you'll find in a Volkswagen Golf or a Mazda6, but they're not scratchy or harsh. 

Up front there are big door pockets, a pair of shallow cupholders, a good sized box in front of the gearshifter for your phone and wallet, and a reasonable glove box. 

The media system in our test vehicle was the upgraded 9.2-inch unit, which is crisp to look at an offers good resolution, plus the added usability that comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can't be ignored. But the lack of a volume knob is frustrating, and it can be hard to figure out if you should be pressing Home or Menu when navigating through the systems array of pages.


Hyundai Tucson8/10

The changes inside include a dashboard layout that mirrors the Santa Fe and Kona, and looks a damn sight more modern than the existing set-up.

It comprises a new tablet-style media screen, which is a 7.0-inch unit in the base model and this 8.0-inch screen in the rest of the range. The bigger screen adds digital radio and sat nav, but all models come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Some people might like the screen being up on top of the dash, so it's in your line of sight and easier to touch-control when you're driving. Others will prefer where it used to be, down where the air-vents are now.

The controls are all well placed, the seats are comfortable and offer good adjustment, and the storage is well sorted, too - there are cupholders between the front and rear seats, bottle holders in all four doors, and loose item cubbies here and there, too, plus a wireless phone charger in the high-spec model. 

There are two interior colour options on the Active X, Elite and Highlander leather-clad models, and it's tidy… but does it feel as special as a Mazda CX-5? Not quite.

The back seat is very roomy, considering the external dimensions of the Tucson aren't as big as many of its competitors. With the driver's seat set in my position (I'm 182cm tall) and myself positioned behind it, I easily have enough rear legroom to be comfortable, enough toe room to stop them from going numb, and a lot of headroom, too - even in the high-spec Highlander with the lovely panoramic glass roof.

You should be able to fit three across the back without too much hassle, and there are dual ISOFIX positions and three top-tether points. Rear air-vents are only fitted to the top two specs, which is annoying, and the top three models get a rear USB charger, but the base model misses out.

The boot space dimensions on offer in the Tucson are good - bigger than a Nissan Qashqai and Mazda CX-5, but not quite as big as an X-Trail or Honda CR-V. The luggage capacity is 488 litres with the seats up, and the storage space expands to 1478L with them folded down flat.

Every model has a full-size matching spare wheel under the boot floor and cargo liner (and you get a retractable cover to keep prying eyes away from your boot cargo), and the top-spec gets an electric boot lid. If you're a sales rep or have dogs, you might want to consider a barrier, which you can fit behind the rear seat. 

If that's not enough size, every model comes with roof rails, so fitting a roof rack system won't be too much of a problem.

Price and features

Skoda Octavia8/10

One of the main reasons you might be drawn to the Skoda Octavia is its attractive pricing. So, how much does the the mid-size model cost? 

Without running through the full price list of the Skoda Octavia models sold in Australia, we can tell you that Skoda prefers to deal in drive-away pricing, so that's what you see here.

Kicking off the range is the Octavia, which is priced at $25,490 for the manual hatchback, and $26,990 for the manual wagon. Stepping up to a dual-clutch (DSG) automatic adds $2500 in both instances.

The base model Octavia is pretty well equipped, with niceties such as an 8.0-inch touchscreen media system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, a cooled glovebox, and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

The wagon model has silver roof rails, but sadly, there's a chrome strip at the nose end, and this model comes with halogen headlights but the tail-lights are LED units. Standard-spec Octavias come with 17-inch alloy wheels, and all Octavias get front fog lights.

The Sport model costs more, with the hatchback version listing at $32,990 drive-away, and the wagon priced at $34,490 drive-away. Both of these are auto-only, though. 

In comparison to the entry-grade model, the Sport adds auto LED headlights with adaptive lighting and LED daytime running lights, auto wipers, an extra pair of airbags (for rear side protection) and it rolls on 18-inch alloy wheels. 

Sport models have different front seats with integrated headrests (still manually adjustable), privacy glass, and the seatbelts feature a tightening feature if the car's computer predicts a crash (the windows wind up, and if there's a sunroof, it'll close). 

Plus the Sport has a black pack, including black door mirror caps, plus side and tailgate decals, there's a rear spoiler (black for the hatch model and body-colour for the wagon), and it rides on a lower sports suspension set-up. The Sport wagon has black roof rails.

If you're interested, the RS model line-up consists of a few different variants. The petrol manual hatch costs $41,990 drive-away, the petrol auto hatch is $44,490 drive-away, and the diesel auto hatch is $45,590 drive-away. Add $1500 for a wagon.

Then there are the top of the range RS245 models, with extra punch and more kit again. The sporty petrol-only RS245 model costs $46,490 for the manual hatch, and $48,990 for the auto hatch. Wagon versions add $1500.

Some notable elements: you need to option keyless entry and push-button start, no matter the model you choose, and a sunroof will cost you $1500 for the hatchback and $1700 for the wagon. You can get a power tailgate as an option on all trim grades of the wagon, too, at $500.

Now, option packs.

The 'Tech Pack' consists of the upgrade to the 9.2-inch screen with nav, LED headlights, semi-automated parking, adaptive chassis control (on RS and RS245 models only), keyless entry and push-button start, 10-speaker Canton audio, drive mode select (already on RS and RS245 models), manoeuvre braking assist (auto braking in reverse), and a driver profile set-up (already on RS and RS245 models).

The Tech Pack costs $4900 for the entry-grade car, $3900 for the Sport model, and $2300 for RS versions.

The other main pack is the 'Luxury Pack', which adds leather trim (base car; N/A Sport) and electric seat adjustment (base model and RS; N/A Sport), Alcantara/leather trim (RS; N/A Sport), heated front and rear seats, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, the added rear airbags (base model only), and auto folding door mirrors with dimming and puddle lights. This pack costs $4200 for the base grade, $1600 for the Sport model  $2800 for the RS, $1500 for RS245.

For those playing along at home, the model you see in these images is the Octavia 110TSI Sport wagon, fitted with the Tech Pack and an electric sunroof.

The other choice you'll need to make is on colours, with metallic paint adding $500. Check out Skoda's configurator to see if you like it in red, white, silver, blue, grey, green or black. There's no gold, brown or yellow, but there's a lightish beige hue called 'Cappuccino', which you can't get on higher-spec versions.


Hyundai Tucson7/10

When it comes down to it, price is important - so here's a price list of how much each version of the Tucson range will cost you. Note: these are the prices before on-road costs (RRP), not the drive away price. Check our Tucson listings for great deals.

Pricing starts at $28,150 for the entry-level Go 2.0-litre four-cylinder six-speed manual front-wheel drive (FWD)  model, which replaces the previous base-model Active at a $440 saving. 

The Go can be equipped with the 2.0-litre petrol and a six-speed automatic (FWD) at $30,650, or with a 136kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel eight-speed auto at $35,950. 

The Go has standard features such as 17-inch steel wheels with a full-size spare, a 7.0-inch touchscreen media system with six speakers, a reversing camera, Bluetooth connectivity, a single USB port up front, Apple CarPlay (for your iPhone) and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, a digital driver information screen with digital speedometer and trip computer, cruise control, manual air conditioner controls, front fog-lights, roof rails, auto projector halogen headlights and LED daytime running lights.

The range then steps up to the Active X, available as a 2.0-litre FWD manual from $31,350, with a 2.0L FWD six-speed auto at $33,850, or in 2.0-litre diesel AWD form for $35,950. 

The Active X gains 17-inch alloys with a matching spare tyre, tyre pressure monitoring, rear parking sensors, 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with built-in sat nav, DAB / DAB+ digital radio, eight-speaker sound system with subwoofer, leather seats, two-way electrically adjustable driver's seat with electric lumbar adjustment, heated and folding exterior mirrors, and front and rear USB power outlets. 

This model also requires buyers to add the 'SmartSense' safety pack at a cost of $2200, but at least Active X buyers will know their GPS navigation system will get upgrades every time the car is serviced. Read more about ownership below.

The Elite is auto-only: the FWD 2.0L petrol lists at $37,850, or you can have it with a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol with all-wheel drive (AWD) and a seven-speed dual-clutch auto for $40,850, and the diesel-auto-AWD version is $43,850.

The Elite moves up to 18-inch alloy wheels, adds a fully powered driver's seat, smart key (not the full keyless entry set-up - you still need to push a button on the door handle) and push-button start, rain-sensing wipers, tinted windows and rear park assist as well as various aesthetic touches. This spec still has projector halogens - not even HID or xenon lamps, which is disappointing at this price tag. 

Top of the range is the automatic and AWD only Highlander. It can be had with the turbo-petrol auto AWD at $46,500, or with the diesel AWD auto at $48,800. It's the premium package, if that's what you're into.

The Highlander comes equipped with 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights (which would be welcome in grades below!) and LED tail-lights, front park assist, panoramic sunroof, power passenger seat, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, powered tailgate, 4.2-inch colour LCD screen in the dash, wireless phone charging, dimming rear mirror and various aesthetic touches.

Buyers can option both the Go and Active X models with the SmartSense safety pack at a cost of $2200, and that brings not only extra high-tech safety gear, but some additional desirable equipment, too. 

The pack - which is fitted to Elite and Highlander models as standard - brings blind spot monitor (also known as lane change assist), driver attention warning, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, auto emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning with active lane keep assist (with power steering intervention), rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control (which works down to 0km/h).

That's on top of a traction control system with ESP, hill start assist, and hill descent control - but there's no differential lock, even on the AWD models. It also adds dual-zone climate control, a cooled glove box, electric park brake, electric folding and heated side mirrors, and puddle lamps to the base two grades.

While we don't control your purse strings, a quick glance at the models suggests it'd be a hard choice in this model comparison: Active X 2.0-litre auto with the safety pack vs the Elite 2.0-litre auto.

No model comes with a CD player, and while the infotainment system is good, its multimedia capabilities don't extend to a DVD player, either. The tech gadgets don't include 'Homelink', either (some US market models can get this smart garage door opening system). 

Unlike some brands, there's no launch edition - but the company has hit showrooms with attractive drive-away prices on lower grade variants. And there's a chance an N-Line sport edition may show up before this generation model is replaced.

As for accessories, we reckon you could argue with the dealer to throw in a set of floor mats on all trim levels, and you might be able to swap rims if you ask nicely, too. If you're thinking of a light bar, bullbar, nudge bar or snorkel you might need to go to an aftermarket parts specialist.

As for colours, the Go model is available with five options: 'Aqua Blue', 'Pepper Grey', 'Phantom Black', 'Platinum Silver' and 'Pure White'. Active X and Elite models add two more options - 'Gemstone Red' and 'Sage Brown'.

The Highlander has all of the above, and adds 'Dusk Blue' and 'White Pearl'. There is no green or orange available, but you can get beige leather trim on the three higher grade models ($295).

How many seats in the Tucson? Only five. If you need seven, you ought to check out the very impressive Santa Fe model.

Engine & trans

Skoda Octavia8/10

There are three drivetrains to choose from in the 2018 Octavia range, and the specifications step up as you move up the range.

Base grade models and the Sport variant have the 110TSI 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol unit with 110kW of power (5000-6000rpm) and 250Nm (1500-3500rpm). It is available with the choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed dual-clutch (DSG) automatic transmission in the base grade, but the Sport model is auto only. If you want more horsepower from your motor, you'll need to go for the RS.

There is no diesel option for the lower grades, and every model in the Octavia range sold in Australia is front-wheel drive (FWD / 2WD). In some markets there are all wheel drive (AWD) models sold, but there isn't a proper 4x4 version with a low range transfer case in any market, though. There is no LPG model sold here, either. 

Now, if you think you might consider towing with your Octavia, you'll need to know its capabilities - and towing capacity varies across the range.

The 110TSI hatch has a 620kg un-braked trailer weight capacity or 1500kg for a braked trailer (manual or auto); the 110TSI manual wagon can deal with 630kg/1500kg, while the DSG wagon is good for 640kg/1500kg. 


Hyundai Tucson8/10

The range is pretty complex in terms of drivetrains, engine specs and ratings, but let's go through each motor in detail.

The entry-level engine is the 2.0-litre four-cylinder non-turbo petrol model, which Hyundai calls the 2.0 GDi (gasoline direct injection). It produces 122kW of power at 6200rpm and 205Nm of torque at 4000rpm, and is available with a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic transmission. It comes in FWD (4x2) only. This drivetrain has seen some tweaks for better refinement, but the changes aren't groundbreaking.

The next engine up is actually smaller in engine size, but features a turbocharger to up the horsepower - it's the 1.6 T-GDi, and it has 130kW of power (at 5500rpm) and 265Nm of torque (1500-4500rpm). It only comes with a dual-clutch automatic and AWD (the system is an on-demand unit, as opposed to a proper permanent 4WD set-up with low-range). This drivetrain is unchanged compared to the pre-facelift version.

The diesel engine on offer is the 2.0 CRDi turbo four-cylinder unit, which has 136kW (at 4000rpm) and 400Nm (1750-2750rpm). It used to be available with a six-speed auto, but now has an eight-speed automatic.

The fuel consumption of this model has dropped - more on that in the next section. The engine is Euro 5 compliant, meaning there is no AdBlue, but there is a diesel particulate filter.

So there are two petrols and a diesel, but we don't get any LPG, plug-in hybrid or EV versions of the Tucson.

No models on launch had a towbar fitted, so there's no part of this review that touches on that element of load capacity - but every model has the same towing capacity of 750kg with an un-braked trailer and 1600kg for a braked trailer. However, the towball down-weight limit differs for the front-wheel drive (120kg) and AWD models (140kg).

Gross vehicle weight, or GVM, varies depending on the model, with the base FWD Active listed at 2070kg (with a minimum kerb weight of 1497kg) and the top-spec diesel AWD Highlander listed at 2280kg (min. kerb weight: 1707kg).


Be sure to check out our Hyundai Tucson problems page for any mention of diesel problems, automatic gearbox problems, engine, clutch, battery, suspension, cruise control or transmission issues. 

Fuel consumption

Skoda Octavia8/10

Fuel economy is good for the 110TSI model we're testing, with claimed consumption rated at 5.2 litres per 100 kilometres for the DSG hatch and wagon, while the 110TSI manual hatch uses 5.4L/100km and the 110TSI manual wagon claims 5.5L/100km. 

Fuel tank capacity for all models is 50 litres, and your mileage will vary depending on how hard you drive. Based on my time in the 1.4-litre Sport wagon, I was going to do about 650km on a tank, with at the bowser fuel consumption measured at 7.3L/100km. The dashboard display was reading 7.2L/100km.

The Octavia requires 95RON premium unleaded fuel at a minimum.


Hyundai Tucson7/10

The Hyundai Tucson isn't the most efficient SUV you can buy, but nor is it the thirstiest - and the numbers are largely unchanged as part of this update.

Fuel economy is rated at 7.8 litres per 100 kilometres (or 12.8 kilometres per litre, if that's how you prefer it) for the petrol 2.0-litre manual FWD, while the 2.0-litre auto FWD claims 7.9L/100km (12.6km/L).

The turbocharged petrol 1.6-litre DCT AWD model has claimed consumption of 7.7L/100km (13.0km/L)

Diesel fuel consumption is improved thanks to the eight-speed auto, now rated at 6.4L/100km (15.6km/L), where it was previously 6.8L/100km (14.7km/L) for the Highlander.

All models have fuel tank capacity of 62 litres - a good size to ensure decent mileage for long-distance driving, especially if you stick to ‘Eco mode'.

Driving

Skoda Octavia8/10

What makes the Octavia Sport worthy of that much-lauded, oft-overused badge? 

Well, it feels pretty sporty to drive, with the MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear suspension both getting the harder-edge tune and sitting a few mm lower to the ground as a result (be aware of the car's ground clearance - it is lower, but it's not suctioned to the ground like a sports car). 

The regular Octavia model was already at the pointy end of the segment for dynamics and comfort, but this Sport version is more dialled into the surface below, with the combination of the stiffer chassis and the bigger wheels with grippy Bridgestone Potenza 225/40/18 rubber rewarding the driver, albeit at a slight penalty in terms of outright ride comfort. You can link bends together with ease, and the turning circle is pretty tight, meaning parking moves are easy enough.

The way the Octavia Sport finds its way through corners, almost telepathically, will have you thinking you've got more grunt than the 110TSI's outputs suggest - that comes down to the refinement at speed, where the torque of the small engine keeps momentum as the dual-clutch auto shifts clinically between gears. There are no paddle-shifters, but there's a manual mode to flick up or down on the shifter, and there are a few drive modes to choose from, each adjusting the throttle response and gearing. Sport was great, but Normal was where I spent most of my time.

In Normal mode there's a bit of stuttering at lower speeds when you're on and off the throttle, but it isn't as much of a deal-breaker as it might have been with earlier iterations of dual-clutch autos. Just make sure that if you're considering the Octavia (or any new car, for that matter!), that you test drive the car extensively, and try to put it through your regular day-to-day routine. 

As with many examples of cars built on the Volkswagen MQB modular architecture, there is some road noise - especially on coarse-chip surfaces. I didn't find it hard to live with - I just turned up the volume on the sound system. 

Over a week of commuting, driving in and around Sydney and more than a few hours on the city's motorways, I came away convinced that if I couldn't stretch to the RS, I'd be pretty happy in the Sport model.

Need more? Want a quicker 0-100 acceleration time, more speed, and better performance figures, and independent rear suspension? You really ought to read my review of the RS245 wagon.


Hyundai Tucson8/10

There was a mix of models on offer at the launch. I drove the diesel Elite, the FWD versions of the Go and Active X, and the turbo-petrol Highlander. So I came away with a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each drivetrain - though it must be said there are no real deal breakers, here.

Let's start off with the 2.0-litre petrol drivetrain, which will account for the vast majority of Tucson sales, and has been tweaked in this iteration with peak torque coming in a little sooner. That means you don't quite need to rev it as hard to get the best out of it, but it still likes a rev.

This time around, though, the refinement has been improved, with less raucousness to it as you build revs. And while it isn't fast, it doesn't struggle to keep moving, and is more than suitable for the vast majority of peoples' needs.

If you choose the Sport drive mode the transmission seems to behave itself a bit better than it does in Eco or Comfort, holding gears a little longer - but on the steep, twisty mountain roads we were on, I chose the select gears manually (though there are no paddle shifters on any model).

There are no drive modes on the Go model, so you can't quite get the same result. It's a slightly more tedious drive experience, but only if you're attacking hilly roads. On the highway and around town, you'll find little to whine about.

What's most impressive about the Tucson is its Mazda CX-5-beating drive experience: there's a great level of connection for the driver, with the steering offering natural and rewarding response (best in the lower-grade models), and the suspension dealing with lumps and bumps extremely well. 

I also drove the Highlander with the 1.6T engine and DCT. There are some vehicles with these sorts of gearboxes that are more renowned for their automatic transmission problems than anything else, and you may have read some issues with Hyundai's ‘box, too. But from a test drive perspective, there's not a lot to complain about.

My steer was pretty much problem-free, though there is a chance you might find the low-speed manoeuvrability compromised, as the combo of the turbo engine and DCT can be a little laggy in terms of throttle response. 

I noted that the Highlander, with its bigger wheels and low-profile tyres (245/45/19) felt a little heavier on centre when turning, and there was a bit of road noise to contend with, too. The ride, though, was nicely sorted.

What about the diesel? Well, if you can justify the expense, you will be getting the best drivetrain of the lot in the Tucson range. 

It revs smoothly once the engine is warm, and is barely perceptible at highway pace. The new eight-speed auto shifts smoothly, and its hard to catch it in the wrong gear, with the torque of the engine easily allowing you to power out in higher gears without raising a sweat.

Now, if you're into stats and facts, here are some numbers for you: 172 = ground clearance mm; 11 turning radius metres; 2.51 = turns lock-to-lock (down from 2.71).

What about performance figures? Well, Hyundai doesn't offer up any claims for 0-100km/h acceleration or top speed, but it's fair to suggest either of the turbocharged drivetrains in Sport mode will reward the more enthusiastic driver more than the 2.0-litre will.

The roads we drove weren't exactly fit for an off road review, and these sorts of SUVs typically aren't the best candidates for a lift kit or all terrain tyres. But the damp gravel roads we found ourselves driving on were littered with pockmarks and potholes, and the Australian tuning team seems to have done a terrific job.

The ride compliance is largely very good, with the front suspension only occasionally jolting hard into sharper edges (especially in models riding on the larger alloys wheels), but the rear suspension was very well judged.

And if you want to push it hard in corners, you'll be surprised by how much each of these models will morph into a high-riding rally car - the Aussie engineers have done a terrific job of blending suspension control, compliance and comfort with accurate steering, and the end result is a rewarding drive, even in the entry-level models.

Safety

Skoda Octavia8/10

All Skoda Octavia models currently on sale are still covered by the car's 2016 five-star ANCAP crash test safety rating. 

Safety features across all models include a reversing camera and rear parking sensors (with a visual park assist display), auto emergency braking (AEB), multi-collision brake, tyre pressure monitoring, fatigue detection and adaptive cruise control.

Of course, every model in the range comes with outboard ISOFIX child-seat anchor points in the back seats, and there are three top-tether attachment points, too.

Airbags for the Octavia are seven for the regular model (dual front, front side, driver's knee and full-length curtain) and nine for RS models (added rear-side protection). The extra airbags can be added to entry-grade models as part of the Luxury Pack, which will also bring lane keeping assist and blind-spot monitoring. 


Hyundai Tucson7/10

The Hyundai Tucson scored the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating when it was tested back in late 2015 - and that rating remains current for the new model you see here.

That's despite the fact the previous version only saw advanced safety equipment like auto emergency braking (AEB) fitted to the top-end model. Now, however, the features available across the range include forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert… although you still have to option that stuff as a safety pack for $2200 in the lowest two grades, and you can get the safety gear in the base manual model. 

Every model, though, has ISOFIX so you can fit a baby car seat (or two), and you'll be able to see what's happening behind you by way of a reverse camera, standard on all grades. There are no parking sensors on the Go model, you get rear sensors on the Active X and Elite, and the flagship Highlander adds front parking sensors - but no model has semi-autonomous park assist (self parking), and unlike some rivals, there's no surround-view camera, either.

Every Tucson has six airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain). 

Where is the Hyundai Tucson built? Well, unlike the pre-facelift model, all variants are now made in South Korea. The previous version saw Australian supply split between Korea and Czech Republic.

Ownership

Skoda Octavia/10

The Skoda vehicle range is covered by a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty plan, which is better than its parent company VW offers in Australia, and matches the likes of Mazda, which only recently upped its warranty plan. There's no extended warranty option, though.

The Czech brand allows customers to pre-pay their service costs by choosing one of its 'Service Packs, the cost of which can be bundled into finance or outright purchase price. The plans are three years/45,000km ($1150 no matter the model) or five years/75,000km ($2250 for non-RS models; $2700 for RS models).

The other option for customers is to pay for their maintenance as they go using capped price servicing for up to six years/90,000km. The average service cost for a standard Octavia is $416.50 and $453 for RS models, but that's before additional consumables like brake fluid. Also worth noting that the alarm system needs to be replaced every six years, at a cost of $411 - that might need to be considered in your resale value estimates. 

If you're concerned about common faults, problems or issues you may encounter check out our Skoda Octavia problems page. The value of a page like this is that it goes beyond standard features to give you a gauge of the reliability rating for the vehicle. 


Hyundai Tucson9/10

Hyundai's strong reputation for ownership has helped make the company one of the country's best-selling brands.

Admittedly, the five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty isn't the standard-setter it once was, with a few other brands like Ford, Holden, Mazda and Skoda moving to a similar plan. 

But not many can match Hyundai's service cost plan - it has a capped price servicing program that runs for the life of the car, which undoubtedly helps with resale value (so does making sure you get genuine dealership stamps in your owners manual/logbook - and that should also help you with wriggle room if you encounter problems or run into common faults, complains or issues).  

Maintenance requirements are determined by the drivetrain - if you choose the petrol turbo you're in for maintenance every 12 months or 10,000km, while the non-turbo petrol and the turbo-diesel require servicing every 12 months or 15,000km.

There's some variance across the pricing for the first five years of maintenance. For the 2.0-litre petrol, the average cost is $301 over 60 months/75,000km; the 1.6-litre turbo petrol works out at $317 per visit (for 60 months/50,000km); and the diesel averages $486 per visit over 60 months/75,000km.

You can do your own research into reliability ratings, but Hyundai takes care of its customers - if you service your vehicle with them, they'll give you up to 10 years' roadside assist for free, and you'll get the same duration for map updates, too, if you need them.