Most folks looking to buy a car want one that can do it all – a vehicle that meets at least 80 percent of your needs.
So, it should be roomy and versatile. It should have the latest convenience and safety features, relatively quick performance and look good in a carpark.
Many of today’s cars can do these things. But the latest Skoda Octavia (and the Combi estate) are a cut above the rest.
SKODA OCTAVIA: MOVING UPMARKET
Forget everything you’ve heard about Skoda being the “cheaper alternative” to Volkswagen models.
One look at the all-new Octavia and you can tell that it has moved upmarket. It looks handsomer than the previous model, with a sportier design marked by stronger lines.
In particular, I like how the boot lid tapers towards a sharp edge. It seems to give the car a dynamic touch.
Inside, the latest Skoda Octavia impresses with its Virtual Cockpit, and in this style variant, the latest Bolero infotainment system that has a 10-inch touchscreen.
This system neatly integrates other features such as the climate control system, but still retains additional buttons for key features like the vehicle functions.
The Octavia Style variant also gets full leather upholstery, powered tailgate and multi-colour ambient lighting, which illuminates two different levels of the cabin. An electronic parking brake is also standard.
The new Octavia is also the first Skoda model to have a shift-by-wire system, which eliminates the need for a conventional gearshift lever. Instead, the shifter now resembles a giant thumb drive, much like the ones used in the latest Porsche and Audi models.
Key to the Skoda Octavia’s versatility and usefulness are its roomy and flexible cabin. Despite the 2686mm wheelbase being unchanged from the previous model, rear legroom is plentiful and the rear bench is wide enough for three adults.
Headroom is decent. Taller occupants would probably like the Octavia Combi more, since the internal height is taller.
The car’s fastback/liftback profile endows it with tremendous boot capacity– 600 litres with the seats up and 1555 litres with the backrests folded.
For the record, the former figure in the previous Skoda Octavia was 590 litres, and the flagship Superb model offers 625 litres. That is impressive packaging.
Motivating the new Skoda Octavia is a turbocharged 1.5-litre 4-cylinder engine that pumps out 148hp and 250Nm. It is mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox, whose takeup is smooth and immediate.
This drivetrain is called e-TEC, for it is equipped with a 48-volt mild hybrid system that helps save fuel by enabling the vehicle to “coast” under the right conditions. It also makes the stop-start feature unobtrusive.
On the go, the Octavia is smoother has a quieter ride than before. The steering is particularly light and responsive, which is ideal for quick manoeuvres.
It does zero to 100km/h in a respectable 8.5 seconds, and the motor feels quite tractable. Handling-wise, the car feels livelier than before, with the light helm making it easy to hustle through corners.
That said, setting the Drive mode to “Sport” does not make the helm any weightier or increase its feedback. And while the drivetrain does become more responsive, it is not by a lot – most drivers will not notice any difference.
FIRST DRIVE CONCLUSIONS
This Style variant has nearly everything that most drivers today would want in a new car. It is good-looking, high-tech, flexible and roomy. And with a starting price of $130,900, it is relatively affordable, too.
If you don’t need amenities such as larger rims and ambient lighting, an Ambition variant can be had for $7000 less.
The Skoda Octavia may have moved upmarket, but it continues to offer a lot of bang for your buck. Heck, it is even more convincing that the recently launched Mk 8 Volkswagen Golf.
How’s that for impressive?
Skoda Octavia Style 1.5 TSI e-TEC (A)
ENGINE 1498cc, 16-valves, inline-4, turbocharged, mild hybrid
MAX POWER 148hp (110kW, 150PS) at 5000-6000rpm
MAX TORQUE 250Nm at 1500-3500rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 101.8hp per tonne
GEARBOX 7-speed dual-clutch with manual select
0-100KM/H 8.5 seconds
TOP SPEED 230km/h
CONSUMPTION 18.9km/L (combined)
PRICE INCL. COE From $130,900 (after $15k VES rebate)
AGENT Skoda Centre Singapore