Skoda Octavia VS Toyota C-HR
- Good value
- Nice to drive
- Sport by name and nature
- Option packs abound
- Uglier than predecessor
- Materials a little cheap
- Adventurous styling
- Premium interior
- Class-leading standard safety
- Underwhelming engine
- CVT can grate
- No true entry-level model
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|
Andrew Chesterton road tests and reviews the new Toyota C-HR with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch in Victoria.
There's fashionably late to the party, and then there's Toyota's C-HR small SUV. While its competitors were making hay while the city-sized SUV sun was shining, the Japanese powerhouse remained eerily quiet. Sure, there was the occasional sketch and a concept car at the Paris Motor Show in 2014, but then... crickets.
But the brand's first ever city-sized SUV has finally arrived in Australia, and Toyota is promising it's been worth the wait. And it arrives to a market absolutely booming: the 440,000 SUVs sold in Australia last year was more than the double the number sold in 2009. And more than 110,000 of those sales were in the C-HR's hotly contested segment.
To say the C-HR is like no mainstream Toyota product that has gone before (at least in recent years) is a staggering understatement. Gone is the dull design philosophy. Same with the tired-but-safe interiors. Instead you'll find a hugely adventurous exterior, a premium-feel interior and a brand new turbocharged engine.
Perhaps most surprisingly, though, is the brand's focus on an engaging drive experience that even Toyota admits has been missing from its recent back catalogue.
|Engine Type||1.2L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium 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.
Sharply styled, engaging to drive and stacked with safety kit, the C-HR will be a tempting proposition for small SUV buyers in Australia. Personally, though, we'd be holding on for a more powerful engine, but if your life is lived in the city, that's unlikely to bother you much.
Is the C-HR exciting enough to pull you away from a CX-3? 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.
Exciting. Unique. Interesting. Not three words you might normally apply to mainstream Toyota product (it's like crushed Valerian has been mixed in with the exterior paint of the current-generation Camry, for example). But then, this is no ordinary Toyota.
The C-HR part actually stands for Coupe High Rider, and the newest Toyota does give off the same kind of vibes as the pioneers in this weird SUV/Coupe pseudo-style. Viewed front on, the C-HR looks simple enough, with the blocky and tall grille, an extreme example of Toyota's new 'under priority, keen look' design language, framed on either size by two massive and swept back headlights (they're 950mm in length, and Toyota had to have its supplier design new machinery to craft them).
But viewed side on, the coupe-ness emerges, the near-vertical windscreen meets a slightly sloping roofline that eventually meets a rear window which angles away from the roof. The wheel arches are bulging, the belt line is sky-high and even the body crease takes a crazy journey from the top of the wheel arch to the base of door before climbing again to the rear door.
So far so good, then. And from those two angles, the C-HR looks sharp on the road. But its the rear view that looks somehow cluttered and confused. From the mass of black cladding, to the boomerang-shaped brake lights, to the endless array of sharp angles and bulging panels, it looks more than a touch too busy for our tastes. Oh, it's supposed to look like a diamond. But you'd need to have sampled Lucy's sky diamonds to spot it.
There are eight body colours (four are new: red, bronze, teal and silver), while $450 will net you a white- or black-painted roof.
Toyota's made no secret it's targeting a more upmarket clientele or, in the words of Toyota: "our customers will have competitors from premium brands on their shopping lists", and the interior does feel a cut above.
There are still a few hard plastics lurking in places, but the other materials feel well crafted and the driver-angled dash has a kind of layering which works well, with different materials and colours stacked on top of each other.
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.
At 4360mm in length and 1795mm in width, the C-HR is actually slightly bigger than a Corolla, and while the interior can feel claustrophobic at times, space for front and rear passengers is actually pretty good. You can genuinely transport four adults in comfort, though squeezing three across the back seat will wipe smiles off faces pretty quickly.
The weirdest part, though, is a large curved panel in the rear door, which eats away the window space in the back. It means backseat passengers will have to lean forward to look out the window, or be left staring at a door panel.
Elsewhere, expect two cupholders in the front and another one in each of the rear doors, but there are no pockets for bottles in the back. There are two ISOFIX attachment points, one in each window seat in the back.
Luggage space is pegged at 377 litres with the 60/40 split-fold rear seats in place, but that climbs to 1112 litres with them folded flat.
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.
Now for the bad news: there's no price-led entry-level model here. Instead you'll be asked to part with $26,990 for the cheapest C-HR, which is about $6k more than an entry-level Corolla. Toyota explains away the price hike by saying most (about 80 per cent) of small SUV shoppers jump into the market at a medium trim level or higher, saying the C-HR's customers are "looking for the niceties of life."
Niceties or no, that money will earn you a front-wheel drive, manual-equipped vehicle with satellite navigation, active cruise control and cloth seats. You'll also get dual-zone climate control, 17-inch alloys, an electric parking brake and LED fog lights and DRLs. Most commendably, you also get an impressive suite of standard safety kit, but we'll come back to that in a moment. As in the rest of the range, your touchscreen will be a fairly underwhelming 6.1-inches in size, and is missing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Toyota has simplified the costs from there, asking customers to shell out another $2k for a CVT (auto) and another $2k for AWD, lifting the combined price to $30,990.
If you're still wanting more, another $4,300 (for a total $35,290) will earn you the top-spec Koba treatment, adding heated leather seats, push-button start, LED headlights and taillights, 18-inch alloys, privacy glass and Toyota's new 'Nanoe E' air-con technology that not only blocks all kinds of nasties, but adds moisture to the air to stop you hair and skin drying out.
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 C-HR is powered by a turbocharged 1.2-litre, four cylinder petrol engine, on debut in this model, that produces 85kW from 5200–5600rpm and 185Nm between 1500–4000rpm. Those numbers don't make for the most exhilarating acceleration: while no official sprint times have been quoted, we were producing 12.5-ish second runs, albeit recorded on a phone on undulating road surfaces.
That power can be sent to the front wheels or to all four tyres, depending on your budget, via a six-speed manual transmission with a tricky rev-matching system that blips the throttle on up and down shifts for smoother gear changes, or a continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic. The CVT has a manual mode - though there's no wheel-mounted shifters - which builds in seven artificial steps in the gearing to simulate a traditional auto.
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.
While the front-wheel drive versions paired with the manual transmission will sip a claimed/combined 6.3 litres per hundred kilometres, some clever tech ensures the auto and all-wheel drive models aren't far off.
Opt for a FWD drive paired with a CVT, and your official fuel use climbs to 6.4L/100km, thanks in part to the fact that the CVT is tuned to sit in its highest possible ratio when coasting.
The AWD models claim 6.5L/100km, helped by the fact the engine actually defaults to FWD when it can, only incorporating the rear tyres if pushed, which will see up to 50 per cent of the power sent to the back.
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.
A Toyota SUV honed at the Nurburgring? Clearly, then, this a new direction for the brand.
This is supposed to be Toyota's driver's car, and in a lot of ways it is. The steering is terrific, smooth and predictable in the city, and perfectly linear when you start tackling tighter, faster bends. The ride is great, too, while the suspension, which strikes a commendable balance between supple and sporty, helps ensure the C-HR sits nice and flat when cornering, only pushing to understeer when you really ask a lot from it.
However, there are some drawbacks. The first is the engine, which feels adequate in the CBD when you're jumping from traffic light to traffic light, but whimpers pretty quickly when you try to unlock some performance.
But the biggest issue for us is the CVT . It's far from the worst we've driven - quieter and smoother than most - but it's a terrible way to draw any meaningful performance from the engine. The foot-flat climb from 30 to 70km/h feels particularly slow, thought that's improved by selecting manual mode, which builds in seven artificial gear steps.
That said, it's not supposed to be an out-and-out performance car, it's simply supposed to be a better driving car than Toyotas that have gone before it, and we think it definitely is. Road noise, too, is kept to a minimum, and vision out of every window (except the rear windscreen - thank goodness for standard reversing cameras) is terrific.
In short, it's a great set-up let down by a lacklustre engine, but heavy rumours abound about Toyota fixing that problem in the not too distant future. Either way, it is a strong outing for Toyota's new TNGA (Toyota New Generation Architecture) platform that will underpin a whole heap of its new products in coming years.
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.
A hugely commendable safety package arrives as standard, with every trim level equipped with AEB, active cruise control, a lane departure system that will take over the steering if it senses you're drifting. That's a lot of handy safety technology, especially on an, albeit expensive, entry-level model. You also get blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and hill start assist.
The high-tech stuff joins seven airbags, a reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors.
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.
The Toyota C-HR is covered by a three year/100,000km warranty and requires a trip to the service centre every 12 months or 15,000kms.
An impressive capped-price service scheme sees maintenance costs pegged at just $195 per year for the first five years.