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Driven: Bigger Skoda Octavia from just $21,690

Czech it out: The new Skoda Octavia wagon is a sharper value equation than the already well-priced old one.

Czech brand Skoda offers more bang-for-buck with bigger but cheaper new Octavia

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Skoda logo27 Nov 2013

SKODA is seeking a sizeable sales upswing to correspond with a significant downturn in Octavia pricing.

Now from just $21,690 plus on-road costs, entry into the third-generation range now costs $3300 less than before despite this new one offering appreciably more cabin space .

Further sharpening the value equation is the introduction of a capped-price servicing scheme that sets a standard fee for all services for the first six years of 90,000 (equating to six services in total, with 12-month intervals), addressing any concerns over the cost of running a European car.

The total cost of servicing a base petrol over six years is $2044, the upmarket more powerful petrol is $2397 and the diesel $2464 – a figure reasonably close to many Japanese rivals.

Available as both a sedan and a wagon (the wagon will comprise about 70 per cent of sales), the new Mk7 Volkswagen Golf-based Octavia has grown significantly in length and width compared to its predecessor, and is 90 mm longer and 45 mm wider, with a 108mm longer wheelbase.

Skoda says the Octavia offers more interior length (1782 mm), more kneeroom (73mm) and more headroom at the back (980mm) than the previous model and many of its competitors. Boot space is a big 568 litres for the sedan and 588 litres for the wagon.

Indeed, the third-generation model offers almost medium-car space for the price of a smaller Golf or Holden Cruze, aligning the Czech brand with its bargain-basement positioning in its native European market, and giving it a valuable point-of-difference from its Volkswagen parent in Australia.

A range of engines shared with the new Golf – a 103kW/250Nm 1.4 turbo-petrol, a 132kW/250Nm 1.8 turbo-petrol and a 110kW/320Nm 2.0 turbo-diesel – are available, matched to either six-speed manual or DSG dual-clutch automatic transmissions (90 per cent of buyers will opt for the DSG, says Skoda).

Three specification levels are available, kicking off with the Ambition priced from $21,690 for the 103TSI manual (an extra $2300 with a DSG), $24,490 for the Ambition Plus with the same drivetrain and $32,190 for the flagship 103TSI Elegance.

Both the 132TSI and 110TDI engines are only available in Elegance form, priced at $34,690 and $35,490 respectively. These prices are all for the sedan, but you can have a wagon version of any of the above for an additional $1350.

All Octavias are built on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB modular transverse architecture that also underpins the Mk7 Golf and Mk3 Audi A3, bringing streamlined engineering solutions as well as a circa-100kg weight drop compared to the previous model.

However a more basic torsion beam axle in all but the most powerful 132 TSI has replaced the multi-link IRS independent rear suspension system found in the last generation Octavia.

Now more simplified in structure, the five-star ANCAP safety-rated range will be joined by a high-performance RS version (with IRS) in the second quarter of next year, while the Scout 4x4 wagon iteration is earmarked for a 2015 arrival.

“We expect the new Octavia to be our best seller,” says Skoda Australia director Michael Irmer. “We won’t discuss volume numbers… but it is one of our pillar models in Australia.

“European roots and sourcing, and now with a stronger value component – this is the new Octavia’s unique selling proposition. We believe this is outstanding value for a truly European product.”

The Czech-built family car has evolutionary styling, designed to keep on appealing to the millions of buyers around the world who have already purchased Octavias since the series commenced 16 years ago (2007 in Australia).

Dimensionally it is closer to medium-sized rivals such as the Hyundai i40. The tape ruler reveals a length of 4659mm, width of 1814mm and a wheelbase of 2686mm for torsion-beam suspended models and 2680mm in IRS Octavias. Wagons have 2mm less ground clearance than the liftback at 138mm.

The majority of buyers are expected to plonk for the 103TSI models fitted with the 1.4-litre direct-injection twin-cam turbo petrol engine, which offers a standstill sprint-time of around 8.5 seconds, while using 5.7 litres of fuel per 100km (DSG is a lower 5.2L/100km).

Audi’s 1.8-litre direct-injection twin-cam turbo is what powers the IRS-equipped 132TSI DSG, delivering 132kW at 6000rpm, 250Nm between a broad 1250-5000rpm, a 7.4 second 0-100km/h sprint time for the sedan and fuel consumption of 5.9L/100km (wagon: 6.1L/100km).

Finally, there is the 110TDI turbo-diesel, which only comes with the torsion beam despite sitting on Skoda’s 110kW power threshold for that rear suspension system.

It’s a 2.0-litre high-pressure direct-injection twin-cam unit, introducing idle-stop and brake energy regeneration to help keep consumption to 4.9L/100km and carbon dioxide emissions to 129g/km.

Steering is electro-mechanical rack and pinion, while MacPherson struts continue to be the norm at the front end of the Octavia. Torsion beam vehicles include trailing arms and a coil spring, as opposed to four-link coil spring design with anti-roll bar found in the IRS-equipped I32TSI.

The entry-level Ambition specification includes standard features such as seven airbags, multi-collision brake, ESC and Bluetooth phone connection. Cruise control adds $290 to the price.

A Travel Package brings a number of option including 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, rear parking sensors, improved audio sound and a front armrest with rear-seat face-level air-vents for a $1300 premium. Representing a 40 per cent saving compared to individually choosing these items, Skoda predicts most Ambition buyers to take up this option pack.

Adding to the Ambition fit-out, the Ambition Plus also receives 17-inch ‘Denom’ alloy wheels, cruise control, rear parking sensors, Skoda’s Passenger Protect Assist which “prepares” the seatbelts and brakes in an imminent potential accident and Fatigue Detection (displaying a coffee icon on the screen to promote rest stops during longer journeys).

A Technology Package brings in bi-Xenon high-intensity discharge headlights, radar-controlled adaptive cruise control, keyless entry/start, an alarm, Skoda’s ‘Canton’ premium audio package, autonomous city brakes, cornering lights, a Driving Mode Selection (that alters steering and transmission change points according to Eco, Comfort or Sport settings) and parking-spot assistance with transverse as well as longitudinal help. Priced at $3900, this also represents a 40 per cent saving if all the items are bundled together as one option.

Range-topping Elegance specification receives standard inclusions such as 18-inch ‘Golus’ alloy wheels, leather trim, Columbus integrated satellite navigation unit and privacy glass.

Elegance buyers can choose a similar Technology Pack to the one listed above, with much the same features, for $3300.

The modern-era Octavia series has been the most successful Skoda of all time both globally (where sales have exceeded 3.5 million units) and in Australia (6000 since 2007).

All Australian-bound models are built at the company’s Mlada Boleslav facility in the Czech Republic.

Skoda Octavia pricing:*
Ambition 103TSI$21,690
Ambition 103TSI DSG$23,990
Ambition Plus 103TSI$24,490
Ambition Plus 103TSI DSG$26,790
Elegance 103TSI DSG$32,190
Elegance 132TSI DSG$34,690
Elegance 110TDI$35,490
Wagon versions an extra $1350
*Plus on-road costs

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