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Car reviews - Skoda - Octavia - 90TSI

Our Opinion

We like
Smooth, responsive engine, comfortable, well-presented interior, blend of dynamics and suppleness
Room for improvement
DSG gearbox hesitation during slow manoeuvres, small side mirrors, reflected road noise

Skoda logo27 Aug 2010

By PHILIP LORD

THOSE who adhere to the ‘no substitute for cubic inches’ rule regarding engine performance will be a little disappointed to see the improvements Skoda has made with its entry-level Octavia.

Replacing a 1.6-litre engine with a 1.4-litre would seem a backward step to the advocates of bigger-is-better, but in this case technology has beaten their theory down with a turbo wallop. With the addition of a turbocharger and myriad other improvements, the 90 TSI makes the Octavia a sub-10sec 0-100km/h sprinter rather than the 12 second-plus slacker the 1.6 MPI was.

It’s not all about sheer speed past the 100km/h barrier, either. Torque is much improved, with more of it coming on sooner and lasting higher up the rev range. Adding to this is a smoothness missing from the 1.6 MPI, and one that lasts almost all the way to red line. Fuel consumption reached a low of 6.3L/100km during the drive programme.

To squeeze such figures out such a small displacement in a medium-size car would have been considered impossible not so long ago.

The rest of the Octavia package has not changed – the interior, a rather sombre, dark place, is built well and generally feels as if it is a quality item (the cheap parts-bin column stalks aside).

The 90TSI’s dynamics won’t set the world on fire, but it is an agile, adept car on a twisting stretch of tar. The steering is well weighted but doesn’t impart the kind of road feel that enthusiasts might want, in say, the way a Mazda6 does.

The Skoda rides well on the standard 15-inch wheel and tyre package, with sharp bumps well absorbed.

The Volkswagen Group has shown a strong commitment to this market since taking over distributorship of its own products here in 2000, and we only have to look at the Volkswagen sales numbers to see how well its core brand has fared since.

The Skoda franchise may take more work to seed in the collective minds of Aussie car buyers, but this new entry model Octavia is a solid step in the right direction.

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