To put it flippantly, cars can in a way be very similar to the flavours of ice cream, some tantalise the taste buds like the strange concoction I saw the other day – Salted Caramel Ice Cream with Pistachio and Rosemary. Others are just run of the mill like good old Choc Mint or Strawberry. But some cars are just straight up Vanilla, plain but reliable and sure to please. In the Skoda Octavia’s case I liken it to good old Streets Blue Ribbon Vanilla, trusty and suitable for just about everyone’s palate.
The 10 Minute Test Drive
Visually, as has been the norm for some years now, the Skoda Octavia won’t knock you over with flowing fluidic lines, it won’t turn the heads of school children or generate even a second of interest from the neighbours.
You see the Octavia’s ability and talent lay unseen, a hugely capable engineering package that’s deep under cover. Hit the road in one and you’ll discover this – albeit incrementally.
The cabin is particularly well executed, the workmanship is clearly excellent. Some cars just feel tight, Skoda manages rattle free interiors up there with the best. Sure there are some swathes of plastic which border on less than desirable, sure the dash itself is conservatively styled but hey we expect things to be a couple of rungs below Skoda’s parent company VW.
Pull away from the kerb and you get that sense of driving something European, solid as granite with a ride that treats most road imperfections with contempt. This car is the ideal long distance tourer, and a highly economical city run about. The dampening and sound proofing add a sense of prestige which is very good at this price point.
The petrol powered engine seems significantly quicker than it really is, with 7 cogs to choose from it’s an absolute pearler. You’ll never be left wanting during higher speed overtaking manoeuvres, or even off the mark with an accompanying squeal from the front wheels even in second.
The ideally sized and quality steering wheel is perfectly matched to a handling setup which sees you gliding through corners with consummate ease.
Ins and Outs
Power is delivered via Skoda’s 1.4 litre petrol turbo engine, capable of 103kW and 250Nm. With a 7-speed automatic dual clutch transmission (DSG) that has just about seen off the lurching and stutters of previous incarnations.
Our test car was the mid-spec Skoda Octavia Ambition Plus which was equipped with an optional $3900 Tech Pack. A stack of gadgets ensue with adaptive cruise control with front assist and city emergency brake, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, daytime running lights, LED tail-lights, auto parking assist, keyless entry with push-button start, drive mode selector and a reasonably good 10-speaker Canton audio system.
In sedan mode the Octavia scores a lift back / hatchback style rear boot, which is large by any standard. Five adults are able to be accommodated in comfort; in fact the Octavia seems to defy its medium size class category.
On top of the driver assist package there’s also a thorough suite of airbags including a driver’s knee bag.
This is probably not the kind of…. No definitely not the kind of car that will generate even a ripple of interest from friends and family. It’s a bit like a Toyota Camry and you know what they say “It’s hip to be square”.
But when you lay down at night at least your inner soul knows you’ve made a calculated, educated decision.
The Hip Pocket
The biggest selling point for this Volkswagen come Skoda is price. Prices start from $21,690 for the manual Ambition 103TSI. Our test car weighs in at $26,790 before the addition of the aforementioned $3990 Teck Pack. At the very top of the Octavia tree sits the Elegance 110TDI DSG at $35,490. Of course all prices are before on roads.
For a turbo petrol unit fuel economy figures are very good, Skoda claims 5.2l/100km. We averaged 5.9l/100km so the claimed figure is very much achievable.
EFTM Rubber Stamp
We’ve driven the 7th generation Volkswagen Golf range and we know just how close the German icon has come to car Nirvana. Skoda being among a multitude of brands the VW group own gets to share in the fruits of its success. Therefore the Skoda Octavia has inherited a supremely talented platform that forms the basis for a great car.
We award the Skoda Octavia Ambition plus the EFTM Credit Rubber Stamp of approval.