Skoda Octavia VS Skoda KAROQ
- Good value
- Nice to drive
- Sport by name and nature
- Option packs abound
- Uglier than predecessor
- Materials a little cheap
- Great design, inside and out
- Clever interior packaging
- Good equipment
- DSG at low speeds
- No middle seat anchor point
- Only FWD petrol ... for now
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|
And you thought Yeti was a weird name for a car. This is the 2018 Skoda Karoq, which is essentially a replacement for the old oddball Yeti small SUV.
The spiel goes that Skoda asked Kodiakans to come up with the name for the new smaller sibling to the Kodiaq - and apparently, names like 'Chinook', 'Grizz' and 'Icebug' were in the mix. But Karoq was what won out, blending the word Ruq - a tribal name for an arrow, like on the Skoda badge - with Karaaq, an Alaskan tribal name for a car.
Enough about the name. What is the Karoq all about? And is it any good?
|Engine Type||1.5L turbo|
|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 lack of variety on offer in the 2018 Skoda Karoq launch range could be a deterrent to some buyers. But the fact of the matter is that the Karoq is aimed exactly at the market that is looking for - petrol, front drive, affordable, well designed and nicely finished.
Not only that, it’s well equipped, and offers a fair bit of customisation if you choose any of those option packs. Skoda is on to a good thing here, and if you like the look of it, you really ought to take one for a drive.
Does the size of an SUV matter? Or is price more important? Tell us in the comments section 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.
The length of the Karoq is 4382mm, and it spans 1841mm wide and 1603mm tall. So, is it a large small SUV, or a small mid-sized SUV? Well, Skoda says it’s the latter, naming rivals like the Mazda CX-5 and Hyundai Tucson as its targets.
Compared with the Yeti, the Karoq is longer nose to tail and has a longer wheelbase for better interior room (now 2638mm; was 2578mm), plus it’s wider, and it isn’t quite as upright, so its lower overall as well.
It’s not huge, then, but it has a big amount of road presence. It’s not quite a ‘mini me’ version of the Kodiaq, there are some fairly familiar styling traits - the creases in the metal along the side of the car and at the rear, around the LED tail-lights, are particularly prominent.
I think it looks really good. It’s a little bit angular and aggressive, a lot more conventionally attractive than the Yeti, and not nearly as hatchbacky as some of its rivals. I can’t support Skoda’s decision to fit halogen headlights as standard, though… they dull yellow beam really detracts from what is otherwise a really attractive car.
Thankfully, you can get LED headlights to match the LED daytime running lights. And the Karoq comes as standard on 17-inch alloy wheels, but you can option up to 19s if you want, and there are several other option packs to choose from, too - read the review for all the details.
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.
If the Honda HR-V is the king of the smaller SUVs for cabin practicality, the Karoq could be the challenger to the throne. In fact, it may have just bump the crown off the king’s head, because the Karoq is the most thoughtful SUV in its class.
That’s because the Karoq has a brilliant flexible seating system, known as VarioFlex, which was also offered in the the Yeti. Essentially, you can slide and tilt the back seats to allow for more boot space or rear passenger comfort, depending on what the priority is. That means the difference between an already-excellent 479 litres of cargo capacity, and that number growing to 589L (bettering plenty of large SUVs).
But that’s not the end of it: you can fold the seatbacks down, then tumble the seats forward to alleviate up to 1605L of boot room. And the final trick? You can completely remove the seats for van-like cargo capacity of 1810L.
Admittedly the floor isn’t flat like a van in that configuration, but it is undeniably brilliant… provided you have somewhere safe and dry to store the seats when they’re out of the car. And you have the option of making it a three- or four-seater if you want - the outboard two seats can be shuffled inboard for the four-seat layout, and the seatbelt clickers are integrated into the seats.
It’s seriously clever, and Skoda has even managed to find a spot for a space saver spare wheel under the boot floor, and every Karoq comes with a removable LED torch, as well as three cargo nets, a reversible boot liner (rubber on one side, carpet on the other) and there are movable shopping bag hooks. And yeah, because it’s a Skoda, you get an umbrella, too!
It may be one of the smaller mid-sized SUVs, but it doesn’t feel small inside. There’s excellent space, and of course there are some really thoughtful touches like rubbish bins in the door pockets, big bottle holders in all four doors, a pair of cupholders up front (but two large takeaway coffees won’t fit side by side), a covered centre console section, and a dash-top hideyhole.
As standard, the Karoq gets a crisp 8.0-inch touchscreen media system with sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. So, you’ll be able to keep connected on the move. There’s a 9.2-inch screen with in-built navigation as an option, but I actually prefer the 8.0-inch one, because there are volume knobs rather than touch controls.
In the back seat there is pretty good space for adults or kids alike. With the driver’s seat set in my position (I’m 183cm tall) I had enough space to sit comfortably for a while. The knee room could be better, but headroom, shoulder room and foot space is very good.
Children are catered for with a pair of ISOFIX child-seat anchors, and three top tethers, too. Plus the standard-fit rear air-vents will keep backseat bandits happy on hot (or cold!) days, but there’s only a 12-volt outlet in the second row (a USB port or two is becoming the standard, these days).
As for rear storage, there is no flip-down centre armrest - instead, you have to fold the entire middle seat down for a set of cup holders, but there are map pockets.
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.
With a list price of $29,990 for the manual version (or $32,990 drive-away) and $32,290 for the dual-clutch automatic (or $35,290 drive-away), the Skoda Karoq is playing at the base level for a mid-size SUV.
Most competitors start around the same level, although the Korean and Japanese makers tend to have automatic models below thirty grand. So it’s not as cheap as some of its competitors.
But it is quite well kitted out, with a lot of standard equipment including an 8.0-inch touchscreen media system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a reversing camera, USB input (only one, though…), Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, an eight-speaker sound system, dual zone climate control air conditioning, keyless entry and push-button start, and adaptive cruise control.
It also has 17-inch wheels as standard, plus roof rails, LED daytime running lights and LED tail-lights, auto headlights and wipers, and in addition to the rear camera, there are rear parking sensors with auto-stop (to avoid back-up bumps).
Inside there are cloth seats, a leather-lined steering wheel and gear selector, a reversible floor mat (carpet on one side, rubber on the other - great for wet or muddy clothes). Plus there are standard tablet holders for rear seat occupants that buckle on to the front headrests.
The safety story is pretty strong for the new Karoq, too - read the safety section below for more details.
Still not enough gear? You can option different packs on the Karoq to boost the equipment levels even further.
The first is the 'Premium Pack' ($3600), which adds full LED headlights, leather seat trim, front parking sensors, an electric tailgate, stainless steel pedals and 18-inch wheels.
The next is the 'Tech Pack' ($3200), which makes the tailgate handsfree operable, plus includes a drive mode selection system and personalised keys (three), upgrades the media screen to a 9.2-inch system with navigation and 10 years of map updates, and also adds DAB+ digital radio, a Canton premium 10-speaker stereo system, semi-autonomous parking, and wireless phone charging.
The 'Travel Pack' ($1700) adds lane keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, heated front seats, electric driver’s seat adjustment with memory settings, and auto dimming side mirrors with auto folding and memory settings.
And if you want all of that stuff in one pack, you could consider the 'Launch Pack', which adds $8900 to the price and includes everything except the Canton sound system, but also adds a three years of servicing. More on that below.
Oh, and as for colours? There are nine choices. Three are no-cost options - Candy White, Steel Grey and Energy Blue - while the six remaining choices all add a little more asking price: Moon White Metallic, Emerald Green, Magic Black, Quartz Grey and Brilliant Silver will set you back $700, while Velvet Red is $1000.
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.
There’s just one drivetrain option at launch for the Karoq - a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, which is available with a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. It’s front-wheel drive only, but a powered-up all-wheel drive model is expected sometime before the end of 2019, and a diesel could be on its way, too.
The outputs for the little turbo engine are pretty good, especially if you’re considering it against small SUV rivals. It has 110kW of power (5000-6000rpm) and 250Nm of torque (from 1500-3500rpm). And it’s such a new engine from the Volkswagen Group that not even VW has it available in any of its offerings yet, and it won’t even be offered in the 2019 Volkswagen Golf update.
But if we take a little dive into the closely-priced competitor set of mid-sized SUVs, those numbers are strong compared with the likes of the front-drive, non-turbo Hyundai Tucson Active (121kW/203Nm), Kia Sportage Si (114kW/192Nm) and Mazda CX-5 Maxx (115kW/200Nm).
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.
The official claimed fuel consumption for the Karoq is 5.7 litres per 100 kilometres for the manual version, and 5.8L/100km for the dual-clutch auto. It features clever cylinder deactivation technology that will allow it to run on just two cylinders under light loads - and it works really well, and more readily than you’d expect.
That’s good for the mid-size class. Let’s consider those five direct rivals mentioned in the engine section: Tucson Active - 7.9L/100km; Sportage Si - 7.9L/100km; CX-5 Maxx - 6.9L/100km; Equinox LS - 6.9L/100km; Escape Ambiente - 7.2L/100km.
We saw 7.3L/100km on our test drive, which included some Sydney traffic, flowing highway and twisty tarmac driving.
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.
It is a blend of being comfortable, composed and considered - something that many rival SUVs can’t nail.
The way the Karoq rides over patchy city streets is particularly impressive, whether you’re in one with 17- or 18-inch wheels. The front MacPherson struts and rear compound link suspension may not feature an Australia-specific suspension tune, but during my time in the Karoq I found very little to complain about, particularly on the smaller wheel package.
The steering - a rack-and-pinion system with electromechanical power assistance - is very good. It has nice weighting at low speeds, meaning parking moves are simple, while offering good resistance at highway pace, offering excellent assuredness.
It is quiet on the open road, suppressing a lot of road roar that you might typically find exhibited by low-profile tyres on coarse chip road surfaces, and makes for a very comfortable long-distance cruiser with its adaptive cruise control system taking the hard work out of highways.
It’s not all rosy, though. The dual-clutch auto can stumble at low speeds (that’s a bit of a trait for this sort of automatic transmission), and that - combined with some low-rev turbo lag - can result in a bit of lazy going at low speed.
At higher speeds the transmission does a solid job, cutting between gears crisply, and helping maintain pace up hills or when overtaking. The engine isn’t a powerhouse, but it certainly offers up easy progress, and gets away pretty smartly if you pressure the right pedal. Skoda claims a 0-100km/h time of 8.4 seconds for the manual and 8.6sec for the auto, which is better than the non-turbo entry-level mid-size models listed above.
I was particularly impressed by the cylinder on demand system, which can cut it to two-cylinder mode under light loads. You can tell when it happens (even if you’re not looking at the driver information screen where it shows up) because there’s a bit more rumble from under the bonnet, but it’s not loud by any stretch of the imagination. And the change from two back to four cylinders when you apply more accelerator is smooth.
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.
It comes loaded with safety stuff, including seven airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain and driver’s knee), a reversing camera, rear parking sensors with auto stop, auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, driver fatigue monitoring, tyre pressure monitoring, multi-collision braking (which will stop the car continuing to move if involved in an accident), ABS, ESC, adaptive cruise control and more.
Optionally available is blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and lane-keeping assist.
As mentioned above, there are dual ISOFIX child-seat anchors, and three top-tether points as well.
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.
Skoda offers a good five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty program, which is better than a few of the mainstream competitors.
Plus Skoda offers a choice of service plans that you can pre-purchase when you drive off the dealer lot (and bundle the cost into your finance… win!) - all require 12-month/15,000km maintenance visits. The costs for services are a bit European, but not exorbitant: the first five years/75,000km, if you go by the book, will cost: $288, $363, $427, $583, $427.