Skoda Octavia 2013 Review
Skoda have undertaken a significant and extremely successful rebranding exercise since they were taken over by VW. Recognising their position in the market place, the self-effacing ‘its a Skoda, honest’ campaign, coupled with an invigorated line-up of quality cars, managed to turn it around to the point that, within no time at all, there was a waiting list for a new Skoda. Without that stigma, Skodas stand in their own right as affordable quality with a great safety record and customer satisfaction. 2013 will mark another point in Skoda history, with the launch of their third generation of the very heart of their brand, the Octavia, and we got the chance to get behind the wheel, read on for the Skoda Octavia 2013 Review.
Skoda Octavia Exterior
As the centrepiece of the Skoda line-up, its unsurprising that the new Octavia hasn’t undergone a hugely significant transformation in its third generation. Characterised by the classic unfussy straight-lines, it comes out with a clean and elegant finish devoid without decorative embellishment. The Tornado line along the side profile provides uplighting to the body and gives it a slightly more dynamic feel.
The face remains distinctively Skoda, although the logo has undergone a change, now only chrome on black, without its distinctive green. To describe the look as masculine might be a bit of a push, but it certainly has a solid look to it. The elongated base, angled rear window shape and the height of the grille give the car an intense look of concentration that perhaps points to the fact that the focus is on performance.
The most noticeable element of the redesign is the size of the Octavia. The wheelbase is 108mm longer at 2868mm, whilst the front overhand has been reduced by 29mm, with a total gain of 90mm in vehicle length. The pulled back C-pillar actually gives the car a very roomy feel, emphasising the interior space far beyond its competition. Whilst Skoda maintain this as competition for the Focus, Golf and Astra, it looks more likely to provide a better cost alternative to the Mondeo, which also has a smaller interior than the new Octavia.
Plus, there is a nice new system for securing loose items, preventing everything from rolling around. In continuation of the ‘simply clever’ concept, there is an ice scraper under the fuel cap and double-sided mat on the floor of the boot.
On the Road
Our first drive was of the 1.6 TDI Elegance along meandering paths of southern Portugal and an unexpectedly longer highway loop. Due to the length of the wheelbase, the ride was smoother than its predecessor and certainly comparable to the Focus and Golf. Although if comparing this to that of the Mondeo, it isn’t as smooth, but in fairness, those perceptive bumps in the road didn’t result in unbearable reverberations. The car pulls its weight without much fuss, the engine remaining quite quiet up front, although is perhaps excessively audible in lower gears considering its size.
In contrast to the larger size, the weight of the car is reduced through innovations in the metallic elements of construction in the engines and axles. The entry level 1.6 TDI can provide up to 4.1l/100km and pump out CO2 emissions around 109 g/km, the Greentec line will improve these by 7.3% and 9.2% respectively to 3.8/100km and 99 g/km. The entry level 1.2 TSI will pump out 5.2/100km and 119 g/km, greentec improving this, but not to a similar % as the 1.6 TDI. The 1.2 TSI petrol, 6 speed manual felt the punchier of the two on the road, and handled well enough. The gearbox was surprisingly fluid and there was no noticeable torque steer. In comparison to its competitors, it perhaps edges to Focus in driving experience, but its more of a toss-up between the Golf and the Octavia. Whilst the car felt good on the bends of Portugal, it was perhaps a little too wide for comfort – so perhaps this is better suited to city driving.
A whole host of intelligently designed electronic driver aides come in the new Octavia, some of which we got to play with out on the drive, and are of particular benefit for cities. This include the helpful adaptive cruise assist which was previously only used in higher class models, intelligent lighting to raise and lower beams for you, a road sign assistant to remind you what signs you’ve passed if you’re not paying attention, automated parking for parallel and reverse park, lane assist to stop you drifting and the tiredness monitor to warn you of danger if you’re getting a little unresponsive in your driving. Most of these are excellent additions to the Octavia and are comparable to its peers, although I would say that when activated the road sign assist is quite annoying in filling the display with alerts, and that the lane assist is not as responsive (or conversely intrusive) as the Ford system.
The greatest benefactor of the larger frame is the interior, which allows for more space than you’d realistically expect for a car in this category. Leg is rarely a problem, short as I am, and I was quite happy practically swinging my legs in the back, so if you have kids, they won’t be kicking you in the back without some effort. With the seats down, including the passenger seat, you can fit long items over 2m in. So now you can fit your surfboard or stripper pole inside the car.
Whilst the interior does appear to borrow heavily from VW influence and is an upgrade on the previous edition, it feels like it has been made with upholstery and finishes of lesser quality. A distraction from this are the various optional extras, including the 10 speaker system with subwoofer, large touch screen display with satnav, bluetooth connectivity, traffic reporting and multimedia control of SD/USB inputs and Apple device compliance. Helpfully, the phonebox concept of signal boosting is integrated into the Octavia, and a helpful multimedia device cradle by the handbrake is incorporated as an extra.
Skoda Octavia 2013 Review Verdict
Although supposedly competing against the Focus, Astra and Golf, the new Octavia once again pushes class boundaries in proud Skoda tradition. Competing well against those in the lower of the classes, it will make good stiff competition for the current line-up from Ford, Vauxhall and VW. Whilst not providing material opposition to the Mondeo, because the pricing strategy is so competitive, it will turn plenty of heads looking at the higher class too, absorbing custom from the lower of the two, and snapping at the heels of the above. The basic model starts at £15,990 and rises to £23,240 with the bigger engine and all extras chucked in.
Ultimately, it is a solid car for its class, with great performance and CO2 emissions with the right levels to provide low taxation. At the price it is, it will continue to grow in sales as a real winner in the economic pinch we find ourselves. Superb value to be had considering that you get more space and equipment at a lower cost, even if some of the interior quality of finish feels slightly lower end. Whilst not the lifestyle choice of the rich and famous, Skoda are certainly becoming the choice for the modern day, discerning consumer. Of course, we have our eyes out for the vRS, rumoured to be unveiled at Goodwood later this year with a 2.0 turbo pushing out 220bhp.