Skoda still lags in perception in the minds of many Australian car buyers. Which is a shame because this week’s road test car, a Skoda Octavia Elegance station wagon, gives you a quality Euro vehicle for a pretty modest price.

Indeed, the sort of money that normally only gets you a car from Japan or South Korea lets you sit in a European machine, albeit one from the Czech Republic rather than Germany, in your driveway.

A Skoda doesn’t give you the prestige of an Audi or Volkswagen, with which it shares most of its out-of-sight components, but the Octavia does give you that lovely sold feel that many admire in a German car.

That’s because the all-new Skoda Octavia shares the MQB platform that’s used in several of the most recent Audi and Volkswagen models. This platform is an immensely clever design that not only gives the body significantly greater rigidity, but also strips up to 100 kg from the mass of the Octavia.

Incidentally, the Audi A3, a close relative to the all-new Skoda Octavia, has just taken out the title of World Car of the Year for 2014.

There’s nothing to get excited about in the midsize model from the Czech Republic. The Skoda Octavia is unashamedly aimed at people who buy sensible, practical cars.

At the front there are hints of Audi’s latest squared off lines, which is no bad thing. At the back there’s the sort of squared-off Golf wagon shape that’s likely to be timeless.

Our test car had the turbo-diesel unit that produces 320 Nm between 1750 and 3000 rpm. Meaning most drivers will be running with the engine at its maximum efficiency almost all of the time.

Two turbo-petrol engines are also on offer. With capacities of 1.4 and 1.8 litres, their peak power outputs are 103, 132 and 110 kilowatts.

Six-speed manual and seven-speed DSG transmissions are installed, the choice varying from model to model. Our diesel wagon had the six-speed dual-clutch DSG. Frankly, you really don’t need any more than six ratios with the sort of torque this diesel puts out.

Skoda’s interiors are all about space and practicality. Octavia isn’t a big car but has interior room similar to cars a full size larger. There’s room for two six-footers sitting behind one another without the person in the driving seat having to move their seat further forward than normal.

Skoda Octavia’s back seat is better suited to three children for width as adults will tend to rub hips and shoulders. That’s pretty well normal in this class so hardly a criticism.

The luggage area is impressive in its volume and usability. The tailgate is full width to give maximum access to the area. Boot depth is exceptionally good. The boot mat is reversible, with carpet on one side and rubber on the other. The seatback has a 60/40 split fold.

There are tie-down hooks on the boot floor and plastic clips on the upper surfaces at the side from which to hang supermarket plastic bags and the like.

This Skoda has a really clever feature; small folding plastic folding pieces with Velcro on the bottom that can stick to the carpet in any position to wedge things into place.

All Skoda Octavias have a five-star ANCAP crash safety rating. Crash prevention and/or minimisation uses the latest in European design that has the Octavia looking ahead for possible danger, advising the driver of problems, then taking over to brake automatically if need be.

The Skoda didn’t appear to be as quiet as the others using the same underpinnings (Audi and VW). You certainly wouldn’t call the Octavia noisy, but it didn’t have the full-on serenity they provide. The large volume of the Octavia’s wagon body makes it harder to suppress sound, so our complaint is probably a minor one.

Handling is good thanks to the solid platform, with a nice feel through the steering. The big Czech has an easy going nature and made light of harsh Australian country roads.

The latest generation diesels from the Volkswagen Group are impressive units and it didn’t surprise us that fuel consumption on the open road and motorways was generally in the low fives. Around town this rose to a still acceptable six to eight litres per hundred kilometres.

The latest Skoda Octavia is all-new from the ground up and continues the long time design that gives maximum interior space with excellent occupant comfort. It has been reduced in price compared with the model it supersedes and is being promoted as providing Asian value and European image.


Ambition 103TSI 1.4-litre turbo-petrol four-door sedan: $21,690 (manual), $23,990 (DSG)
Ambition Plus103TSI 1.4-litre turbo-petrol four-door sedan: $24,490 (manual), $26,790 (DSG)
Elegance 103TSI 1.4-litre turbo-petrol four-door sedan: $32,190 (DSG)
Elegance 132TSI 1.8-litre turbo-petrol four-door sedan: $34,690 (DSG)
Elegance 110TDI 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-door sedan: $35,490 (DSG)
Ambition 103TSI 1.4-litre turbo-petrol five-door wagon: $23,040 (manual), $25,340 (DSG)
Ambition Plus103TSI 1.4-litre turbo-petrol five-door wagon: $25,840 (manual), $28,140 (DSG)
Elegance 103TSI 1.4-litre turbo-petrol five-door wagon: $33,540 (DSG)
Elegance 132TSI 1.8-litre turbo-petrol five-door wagon: $36,040 (DSG)
Elegance 110TDI 2.0-litre turbo-diesel five-door wagon: $36,840 (DSG)
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Skoda dealer for driveaway prices.

Vehicle Stability Control: Standard in all models
Seven airbags: Standard in all models
Daytime running lights: Standard in all models
Tyre pressure monitor: Standard in all models
Height adjustable halogen headlights: Standard in all models
Front and rear parking sensors: Standard in all Elegance models
Columbus sat nav: Standard in all Elegance models
Leather upholstery: Standard in all Elegance models

SPECIFICATIONS (Skoda Octavia Elegance TDI 2.0-litre diesel five-door wagon)
Capacity: 1.968 litres
Configuration: Inline 4-cylinder, turbocharged, 16-valve, DOHC, transverse Maximum Power: 110 kW @ 4000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 320 Nm @ 1750-3000 rpm

Transmission: Seven-speed DSG, front-wheel drive

Length: 4659 mm
Width: 1814 mm
Wheelbase: 2680 mm
Track: 1533 mm (front) / 1504 (rear)
Tare mass: 1367 kg
Boot Capacity: 588 litres, 1718 litres (with rear seats folded)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 litres
Turning circle: 10.6 metres

Front Suspension: MacPherson struts, lower triangular links, torsion stabiliser
Rear Suspension: Torsion beam axle, trailing arms, coil springs
Front Brakes: Ventilated disc
Rear Brakes: Disc

Acceleration 0-100 km/h: 8.7 seconds
Top speed: 213 km/h

Fuel type: Diesel
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 4.9 litres per 100 km
Emissions: Euro V

Greenhouse Rating: 8/10
Air Pollution Rating: 6/10

Three years / 100,000 kilometres

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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