Skoda Octavia VS Mazda 2
- Good value
- Nice to drive
- Sport by name and nature
- Option packs abound
- Uglier than predecessor
- Materials a little cheap
- Fun chassis
- Great safety package
- Cheap to own and run
- Tight rear seats
- No Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
- Dark interior on all but GT hatch
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.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
The Mazda2 is the favourite small hatch for the private buyer. While other small hatches have fallen away, the 2 has held firm, its stylish sheetmetal and quality interior setting apart from pretty much every car in its class. It's been in its current shape since 2014, so Mazda has given it a light mid-life spec re-arrangement.
The refresh has not only included a few new goodies and detail improvements, but it's also brought with it a new range-topping GT variant. Sadly, it has not brought a hot or even slightly warm hatch. Still, you can't have everything, especially in a market segment shrinking in favour of small SUV's like the 2's bigger brother, the CX-3. Mazda thinks the 2 can maintain its selling power, though, with the company moving over a thousand a month in 2016, beating the Yaris and only eclipsed by the bargain basement Hyundai Accent.
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
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.
The 2 has recently lost sales momentum, but so has the whole segment. VW Polo sales have halved over the past 12 months and even the Hyundai Accent has run out of steam after a big effort in 2016.
The fact the 2 is still shifting 1000 units a month must be a comfort to Mazda as all its competitors, bar the Yaris, have suffered significant drops.
The updated 2 is hardly a revolution but a steady, workmanlike approach by Mazda to "shatter all notions of class to keep Mazda2 the world’s most appealing sub-compact car" should keep things motoring along. The level of safety equipment should go some way to notion-shattering.
It's a close run thing, but the Maxx remains the best of an already impressive Mazda2 line-up. It is a significant extra chunk of money over the Neo, but the addition of MZD Connect and the reversing camera with reverse AEB seals the deal.
The 2 has by far the best safety package of its segment and probably the best interior. Add to that its sparkling chassis, plus a decent level of tech (once you're in the Maxx), and it's a compelling proposition if you can resist the switch to a small SUV. You'll save yourself a fortune if you can.
Do you still prefer a hatchback to a small SUV? Or is the pull of the high rider too great for you to consider a trad hatch? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
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.
Mazda's 'Kodo' design is very successful in just about any size and shape. The 2 hatch has all the requisite flowing lines and creases, with a more mature look than its perpetually surprised predecessor, which had huge, long headlights that swept up and back into the bodywork.
The sedan almost gets away with it, but not quite. While rather more practical than the hatch (it has a massive boot), the extension on the back is a valiant attempt but, ultimately, looks a bit too high and bustly.
Not much has changed, with the exception of a few paint colours here and trim selections there. The alloy wheels are the same designs as previously but with a different finish, and the wing mirrors now have indicator repeaters. While there are a few new colours, the only extra-cost colour is still 'Soul Red', a reasonable $300.
Inside has also received some minor changes. The steering wheel is more like the CX-9's, with a smaller airbag boss, better buttons and slimmer vertical spokes to reduce the visual weight. Otherwise, the sleek design of the dashboard with its three circular vents remains, and looks as good as ever.
Irritatingly, the instrument layout also remains but the LCD head-up display (Genki and GT) has been refined and given Audi-like graphics. The dash is still a central speedo with two wings either side housing small LCD displays. Maybe it's a personal thing, but I find this dashboard irritating because there seems to be a lot of wasted space. Mazda has made some improvements to the fonts and detailing on the speedo to try and make it more legible.
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.
For passengers, almost nothing has changed. The front seats are comfortable, everything is close to hand and tall folks can survive quite happily. The rear seat is still tight for anyone over 150cm tall and is not a three-adults-across proposition unless they're all beanpoles with no hips. There are now under-seat vents for the rear passengers, though, which is a nice touch at this level.
Front seat passengers have two cup holders and a wide deep slot for holding your phone (even the larger format devices fit) and at the rear of the console is a tray for odds and ends. There is also some space underneath the air-con controls for keys or a smaller phone and it's where the 12 volt power outlet and USB ports live.
Boot space in the hatch is the same 250 litres, enough for a modest amount of shopping or a medium-sized suitcase. Go for the sedan and you'll have a gigantic 440 litres to fill, which is just two litres short of the brand new CX-5. Mazda reckons that's two suitcases' worth or two golf bags. Both variants have a 60/40 split rear seat to liberate more space.
Price and features
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.
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.
Thanks to a weak-ish Japanese economy and currency, Australian buyers won't have to dig any deeper for their better-equipped Mazda2. Prices haven't moved a single cent for either the hatch or sedan (three quarters of sales go to the hatch), starting at $14,990 for the basic 79kW/139Nm Neo manual.
The range rises through the Maxx, Genki and now the GT (replacing the Genki S Pack option), ending up at a CX-3 - and 3 - threatening $23,680 for the auto. Everything above the Neo gets 81kW/141Nm from the 1.5-litre 'SkyActiv' engine, which at the same time is fitted with 'i-Stop' stop-start technology. Drive-away pricing is here to stay, too - just add $2000 to the MLP (the prices I've listed here).
The Neo starts you off with 15-inch alloys, power windows and mirrors, four speaker stereo with Bluetooth and USB, air-conditioning, cruise control, keyless start and rear parking sensors, low-speed forward auto emergency braking and Mazda's own G-Vectoring technology to improve steering feel and response.
If that's enough for you, the Neo will cost $14,990 for the six-speed manual and $16,990 for the auto. Spend another $2700 and you'll find yourself in a Maxx ($17,690 manual/$19,690 auto). Added to the Neo's spec are a six-speaker stereo with DAB+, cruise control, leather interior bits like steering wheel, alloy wheels, rear AEB and a reversing camera.
The reason you've got a reversing camera on the Maxx and up is because the rest of the range comes with a 7.0-inch touchscreen running Mazda's really rather good 'MZD Connect.' While it doesn't have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, it does feature Pandora, Stitcher and Aha connectivity. The Maxx offers sat nav as an option and it's standard on the Genki and GT.
Speaking of the Genki, which is only available as a hatchback, you'll pay $20,690 for the manual and $22,690 for the auto. The extra three large gets you machined gunmetal alloys of 16-inches in size, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, climate control, upgraded cloth trim, body-coloured folding mirrors and LED daytime running lights.
Finally, there's the GT. Unlike the Genki, you can get a GT in both hatch and sedan, priced at $21,680 for the manual and $23,680 for the auto. The extra $990 has mostly gone on the interior. Mazda's designers have gone to town with leather and synthetic suede on the seats and a bunch of leather decoration panels on the dash and armrests, complete with classy stitching. These really lift the mood in the otherwise dark cabin and the themes differ between hatch and sedan. The hatch's contrasting colour is white while the sedan's is a rich brown colour.
Engine & trans
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.
The SkyActiv 1.5-litre petrol four comes in two specifications. On the Neo, you'll have 79kW/139Nm to play with and you'll go without i-Stop. Small differences include a belt-driven oil-pump and lower compression ratio.
For the rest of the range, you'll get 81kW/141Nm and i-Stop to cut fuel use in town (although this isn't reflected in the official fuel figures on the automatic).
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.
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.
The 2 is already the riot of the segment, with by far the most interesting driving experience when compared with its Japanese and Korean competition. Combining light weight, sharp steering, an enthusiastic engine and two good transmissions, the wee Mazda remains the class leader.
Cars like this are usually a barrel of fun, but when you add in the subtle effects of G Vectoring - where software monitors steering angle and fiddles with the torque to improve steering response and feel - it's even better. The tyres will give up long before you do, but there's still nothing like the 2 in this segment unless you spend another few grand on a Renault Clio or Peugeot 208. And even then...
Passengers will also enjoy the quiet cabin, although the torsion beam rear will keep the rear occupants awake with a bit of clunk thunk over the rough stuff and the ride is fairly firm but not violently so.
As with any Mazda update, there's been plenty of detail work to improve the platform. The 2 was never going to get any wholesale changes, because from launch it was one of the quietest hatches on the market, certainly much quieter than the car it replaced. Mazda has deployed more filler and foam to further dampen the noise and added an acoustic windscreen.
Interestingly, one of the noises that has been attended to is the sound of the rear door closing. Until now an unpleasant clang issued from the rear door but with a change in the position of the panel's reinforcement, it's more a thunk than a clang. Jolly good.
As far as the driving goes, again, it's all in the detail. New damper and spring rates and new bushes all conspire to quieten and sharpen the drive, along with the G Vectoring. It's still good fun and the manual is even more fun than the auto.
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.
The Mazda2's safety package stands apart in this class, incorporating advanced features found on larger, more expensive cars from other carmakers.
The least you'll find on the 2 is six airbags, ABS, rear parking sensors, traction and stability controls. Even the base model 2 has city auto emergency braking (AEB) and Mazda's G-Vectoring technology. The rear seats feature two ISOFIX and top-tether restraint points.
On the Maxx up you have a reversing camera and reverse AEB and the Genki and GT also score reverse cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring.
The 2 scored five ANCAP stars in September 2015, the highest rating available.
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.
Mazda's passenger cars are covered by a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty and you can stump up $68.10 or $83.50 per year for roadside assist, depending on how keen you are for a rental car if your 2 is out of action due to a mechanical breakdown.
Mazda also offers fixed-price servicing for the 2 and you're expected to pop in to your local dealer every 12 months or every 10,000km. This regime covers the first five services, with prices alternating between $286 and $314 adding up to $1486 for the whole period.
You'll also need to budget for a brake fluid change every two years/40,000km ($64) and a new cabin filter ($80) every 40,000km.