2014 SKODA OCTAVIA REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Medium sedan
Price: $35,490 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 110kW/320Nm 2.0 4cyl diesel | 6spd dual-clutch auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 4.9 l/100km | tested: 6.3 l/100km
Skoda’s Octavia may not be the first car to cross your mind if you're in the market for a mid-size sedan.
But while the brand might not hold the cachet of Toyota, Mazda, or Honda, there’s some decent pedigree behind the Octavia.
But the Octavia pushes the boundaries (literally) of those small cars and is instead a mid-sizer. On the petite side of medium certainly, but not to the detriment of interior practicality.
Despite a distinctly sedan-like profile, the Octaivia’s bum is actually hiding one hell of a lift-back.
Not only that, but there’s a cavernous boot in there, making it a cinch to load as much weekend gear as you please.
And as a final ace up the sleeve, in Elegance spec there’s a healthy equipment list available with a frugal but flexible diesel engine.
Time to scare this lesser known Czech-built contender into shape with a run through the infamous TMR torture test then.
- Leather appointed seats
- Eight-inch touchscreen with navigation and 64GB hard drive
- Dual-zone climate control
- Rear seat air vents
- Under-seat storage beneath passenger seat
- Privacy tinted rear windows
At first glance the Octavia looks near-premium. The interior plastics are high quality, panel gaps are tight, and the soft touch surfaces across the top of the dash feel top-notch.
There’s still plenty of hard surfaces at play on the lower dash and console, and the silver trim used on the doors and gear-shifter surround looks a little gaudy.
We also encountered some light trim rattles on country roads (you may not have noticed them to be honest) and a misfitting driver’s door-window rubber, but that was easy to pop back into place.
Of greater importance, the seat comfort was hard to fault. Cushioning falls on the firm side, but even after a few hours at the wheel the Octavia was a comfy place to be.
Rear seats are easy to get in and out of, and while width might me a smidge tight if you have three brawny teenagers, they certainly won’t be short on head or legroom.
And the boot - It’s like a gift from on-high for a pack-rat like me. There’s a shopping hook to hold your groceries in place, and 568 litres of space with the seats up or 1558 litres with them folded.
The one cautionary note we have is to look up before opening that gargantuan boot.
It swings up high and in a low under-cover carpark might be enough to knock the fire sprinklers or contact the roof if you’re not careful.
ON THE ROAD
- 110kW/320Nm 2.0 litre turbo diesel engine
- Six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- 4.9 l/100km claimed fuel consumption
Against some new school diesels though, the Skoda can feel a little sleepy away from the line.
Make no mistake, the Octavia never struggles - it just lacks the speed and linearity of some competitors in the red light derby.
At low speeds the six-speed DSG can be grating - there’s a noticeable pause from the transmission before letting the torque flood in.
The end result will have your occupant’s heads bobbing back and forward through stop-start traffic.
Out of town however things improve. There’s little in the way of engine or wind noise, but the cabin does boom and amplify tyre roar when not carrying a load.
Overtaking is swift and smooth - this is where you’ll notice that diesel grunt. There’s not a hill-climb we could find that was steep enough to dent the diesel’s willing thrust.
As for ride comfort, there’s no Euro-firmness to the suspension tune.
Instead, run the Elegance over tattered tarmac and you’ll feel the longish suspension travel soaking up ripples, with just the low-profile rubber occasionally letting a bump or thump through.
If you really enjoy a rapid punt through a set of corners however, you will notice the handling can feel a little loose at times.
There’s not much feel through the wheel, early understeer, and a general lack of excitement. If hot-shoeing is your cup of tea, check out the superior handling of the Octavia RS.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars: this model scored 35.87 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: Standard electronic aids include stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD and brake assist. All Octavia variants get dual front, front side, full-length curtain and driver’s knee airbags. Ambition Plus and Elegance models also feature rear side airbags
The optional Tech package also adds frontal collision warning and low speed auto-braking system.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Because the Octavia straddles size and price categories, it runs up against a varied list of rivals from both the small and medium class, including:
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
There’s a certain staid and solid sensibility to the Octavia.
It’s evident in the styling, both inside and out, but it really shines though in terms of the cavernous cargo space and easy-to-pack liftgate.
This is one for growing families, for flat-pack furniture addicts, for prams, for bikes, for just about any challenge you can name.
Throw in a frugal diesel engine and generous amounts of kit in Elegance specification (the only diesel spec currently available) and this Skoda adds up to sound fiscal sense.
Yes, there are better driving cars, try a Mazda 3 or 6 if that’s your thing. You can also find bigger sedans or more compact hatches, depending on your needs.
When it comes to packaging though, nothing blurs the boundaries quite so convincingly as this Octavia.
Pricing (Excludes on-road costs)
Ambition 103TSI manual - $21,690
Ambition 103TSI DSG - $23,990
Ambition Plus 103TSI manual - $24,490
Ambition Plus 103TSI DSG - $26,790
Elegance 103TSI DSG - $32,190
Elegance 132TSI DSG - $34,690
Elegance 110TDI DSG - $35,490
Ambition 103TSI manual - $23,040
Ambition 103TSI DSG - $25,340
Ambition Plus 103TSI manual - $25,840
Ambition Plus 103TSI DSG - $28,140
Elegance 103TSI DSG - $33,540
Elegance 132TSI DSG - $36,040
Elegance 110TDI DSG - $36,840