Car reviews - Skoda - Octavia - range
11 Oct 2007
By CHRIS HARRIS
RESURRECTED Czech marque – and Volkswagen AG value brand – Skoda is hurtling straight into the Mazda6, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Ford Mondeo mid-sized heartland with the Octavia.
Priced from $29,990 with ESP stability control as standard, and based on today’s Volkswagen Golf V platform, the Octavia is a larger-than-usual small car wearing either a sedan-style three-box five-door hatchback or four-door wagon body shape.
We’re seeing the second-generation Octavia II model the 1996 original is still being produced in the Czech Republic.
For Australia, Skoda is offering a staggering 16 varieties using five different Volkswagen Group four-cylinder engines in either petrol or diesel configurations, with two versions coming in all-wheel as well as front-wheel drive.
This makes the Octavia one of the biggest for choice in either the small or medium segments that it straddles.
All iterations are funnelled in one of three variant groups – base Ambiente, luxury Elegance and sports RS (known as the vRS elsewhere). All are offered in ‘sedan’ or wagon guises.
The Ambiente opens the Octavia range with exclusive use of Volkswagen’s long-lived 1.9-litre TDI intercooled turbo-diesel producing 77kW of power at 4000rpm and 250Nm of torque at 1900rpm.
It achieves 5.1L/100km combined average fuel consumption figure and 135g/km of carbon-dioxide emissions (DSG: 189km/h and 161g/km).
Gearbox choices are a five-speed manual or six-speed DSG dual-clutch ‘automatic’.
This engine also powers the Ambiente 4x4 wagon – which uses a part-time Haldex clutch offering automatic torque distribution according to which wheels need it the most.
Besides the aforementioned ESP, the Ambiente models also include anti-lock brakes, traction control, engine brake control, six-airbags, climate control air-conditioning, remote central locking, power windows, 15-inch alloy wheels, a trip computer and a multi-function leather-bound steering wheel.
Next up, the Elegance gives consumers the choice of three engines.
The smallest is also the newest, being one of the first Volkswagen Group Australia cars to come with the new-generation EA888 engine family.
It’s the six-speed manual-only (for now) 1.8-litre TFSI turbo-charged and direct-injected four-cylinder unit that delivers 118kW at 5000 to 6200rpm and 250Nm from 1500 to 4200rpm, with fuel consumption and emissions rated at 7.7L/100km and 176g/km.
For a petrol automatic Elegance, there is a six-speed Tiptronic transmission mated to the long-lived EA113 2.0-litre FSI normally-aspirated four-cylinder powerplant providing 110kW at 6000rpm, 200Nm at 3500rpm and around 8L/100km.
On the Elegance diesel front, VW’s evergreen 2.0-litre TDI engine has 103kW at 4000rpm and 320Nm from 1750 to 2500rpm. Available in either a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG transmission, this returns 5.7L/100km and 150g/km (DSG: 6L/100km and 156g/km).
The Octavia Elegance 2.0 TDI six-speed manual drivetrain also underpins the other 4x4 wagon model on offer.
Over the Ambiente, the Elegance adds 16-inch alloys, six-stack CD/MP3 audio, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers and a multi-zone element to the climate control air-conditioning.
Buyers seeking a sports edge can choose the RS, which boasts a body kit, 18-inch alloys, sports tuned suspension, ‘sports’ seats, revised interior trim and instrumentation, an alarm, and the 2.0-litre turbo-charged TFSI petrol unit made famous in the VW Golf GTI.
In Skoda guise, it produces 147kW from 5100 to 5700rpm and 280Nm from 1800 to 5000rpm, and delivers 8.1L/100km, but only comes with the six-speed manual gearbox.
Being Golf based, the suspension is made up of MacPherson struts with lower triangular links and an anti-roll bar up front and an independent multi-link arrangement with an anti-roll bar for the rear.
Sports tuned suspension is available on all models as an option.
Brakes are four-wheel discs and the steering is an electro-mechanical set-up.
Boot sizes vary between 560 and 1420 litres in the ‘sedan’ and 580 and 1620 litres in the wagon.
On the subject of wagon, we should expect the SUV-style Octavia Scout 4x4 to arrive sometime before the end of next year, giving Skoda a suitable (and less expensive) rival to the popular Subaru Outback and Volvo XC70.
Tested in 2005, the Octavia II received a four-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating, but Skoda says upgrades since have probably boosted that to a five-star rating.
All models bar the RS have a full-sized spare wheel, while the warranty is a three-year, unlimited kilometre deal with 24-hour roadside assistance.
Besides value, Volkswagen group ownership, German technology and high owner satisfaction results in Europe will help sell cars, according to brand head in Australia, Matthew Wiesner.
Skoda will see out 2007 with about 400 vehicles, and will judge volume expectations for next year according to consumer reaction.
Mr Wiesner expects that up to 80 per cent of Australian Skoda sales will be made up of the Octavia. Last year, almost 270,000 were delivered. Production is based in Mlada Boleslav in the Czech Republic.
So far, 10 dealers have been appointed nationally, with a further five on the way, 20 expected by the end of next year and about 30 slated by 2010.
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