Built in the Czech Republic in Eastern Europe, Skoda is a Volkswagen-owned brand, which means you get the same cutting-edge quality and technology, but without the premium price, along with many more interesting inclusions that give the Octavia a character of its own.
It truly stands out as one of the more interesting choices in a sea of 'me too' new cars that are too bland for their own good.
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German levels of quality without the price sting
Front-seat passengers are treated to a set of power-adjustable leather chairs that offer good lateral support for the waist and a flat leg section for comfort and practicality. In the back is a cushy leather bench seat with its own flip-down, cupholder-equipped armrest.
The cabin is spacious and airy, and accommodates four adults in relaxing comfort. Fitting three across the rear bench makes it a bit tighter, but, unlike some of the more expensive rear-wheel drive vehicles in this segment, the transmission/exhaust pipe tunnel isn’t intrusive on centre-seat legroom.
Luxury nicknacks and novelties include a cooled glovebox, dual-zone climate control with a humidity sensor and pollen filter, ‘puddle lamps’ in the door mirrors to light up the ground near the doors, and various storage pockets and places to put your phone and keys. There’s even a special dock for your iPod for when its connected up to the infotainment unit. New additions include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as available gesture control.
Sedan with a handy secret, or wagon with clever surprises
While the Octavia might look like a handsome and confident sedan, it is, in fact, a handy hatchback, with an enormous boot opening allowing you to fit more objects in than ever before. The wagon is similarly handsome and adds yet another layer of practicality.
On first impressions, you notice a distinct solid feel to the car and its firm connection to the road. This is the first sign that reminds you of its Volkswagen underpinnings. The steering is an electric power assisted system with a medium weight setting and a gentle spring-back to centre.
Like many new model vehicles on the market these days, the Skoda gives the driver the choice of various driving modes. These modes are presets for the steering, transmission and throttle response mapping. In Sport mode, for instance, the steering is at its firmest and the transmission holds onto gears before auto upshifting.
The colour chart also impresses, with lovely Cappucino brown, Black Magic, Race Blue that radiates on sunny days, deep Quartz Grey, Corrida Red with a slight burgundy note, Brilliant Silver, Candy White or Moon White.
The new Octavia is a solid performer in terms of quality, efficiency, safety (5 star ANCAP), built to the same high standard as the Volkswagen Golf it shares its chassis with, but available from a lower price with some handy features that set it apart.
If you're after something with European quality and a real poshness to it, it might be time to get to know Skoda and have a look at the Octavia today.
5 specs you need to know:
- Engine: 1.8-litre turbo four-cylinder
- Transmission and drive: Six-speed manual or seven-speed auto, front-wheel drive
- ANCAP safety rating: Five Stars
- Official fuel economy: 5.9L/100km
- Time from 0-100km/h as tested: 7.3 seconds.
- Strong and eager 1.8 132TSI engine
- Luxury appointments and standard equipment
- Practical hatch layout
- VW platform; built with latest technology
- Stretchy transmission and throttle response off the mark
- Some road noise