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Driven: Driver-assist tech pumps up Skoda Octavia

Doctor Octavia: New standard safety features across the Skoda Octavia range include adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking.

Skoda raises bar with standard adaptive cruise control, AEB in MY17 Octavia range

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Skoda logo23 Jun 2016

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

SKODA Australia has moved to add value to its comprehensive 16-variant Octavia mid-size sedan and wagon range with a series of changes headlined by the standard fitment of adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).

Starting from $22,990 plus on-road costs, the base 110TSI Ambition has risen by $500 but picks up a claimed $4200 worth of additional equipment, including the AEB and adaptive cruise combination which, according to Skoda, makes the Octavia the most affordable vehicle in Australia with this technology.

Much of the extra equipment was included in the now-discontinued ‘Ambition Plus’ variant that was priced from $25,590.

The MY17 series arrives hot on the heels of a number of fixed-price servicing and optional extended warranty initiatives that Volkswagen’s Czech brand hopes will allay fears in the marketplace of perceived high running costs and low residual values for Octavia, which sits in the mid-size class but also attracts buyers from the small-car segment.

These are on top of the engineering upgrades this second-generation Octavia range received last October, when it switched to Euro 6-compliant powertrains and added Apple CarPlay and Android Auto multimedia connectivity.

According to Skoda Australia director Michael Irmer, the overall aim of these added-value initiatives is to boost Octavia’s appeal in the fiercely competitive small-car class against the likes of the Mazda3, Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, while at the same time luring buyers from premium mid-size contenders such as the Mazda6 and Subaru Liberty.

“We want to position Skoda as a European aspirational value player,” Mr Irmer told GoAuto at the media launch of the MY17 Octavia range in Melbourne this week.

“The renewed Octavia was built on four pillars: safety, quality, more care for your money and care-free ownership. In all four of these aspects, a buyer can compare the Octavia in any of its versions to a same-sized prestige car and that it is a superior offering.

“Closer to the Octavia’s price point, there simply is not a serious rival.” Along with AEB and radar-based adaptive cruise, the MY16 Ambition gains 17-inch alloys in lieu of 16-inch steel wheels, rear parking sensors, a rear camera, an updated 6.5-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone connectivity, a front centre armrest, rear-seat air vents and no less than eight audio speakers – twice as many as before.

In both the mid-range Style trim level (from $33,790) and the similarly specified Scout crossover wagon (from $33,290), the price increase over their respective predecessor is $300 but the value of extra gear is claimed to be 10 times that amount.

Standard equipment now includes the aforementioned driver-assist technology as well as bi-Xenon headlights (with LED daytime driving lights and tail-lights), foglights, a sports steering wheel and rear seatbelt reminders.

Topping the range from $37,890, the sports-focused RS has likewise jumped $300 but its newly installed AEB and adaptive cruise are said to be worth $440 and $600 each respectively.

The Ambition grade continues to offer a $3400 Sports Pack with a claimed $5670 worth of items, including sports suspension, bi-Xenon headlights, 18-inch alloys, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, black body highlights, a rear spoiler, foglights and automatic headlights/wipers.

Skoda says dealers are reporting a 60 per cent take-up rate for the Sports Pack.

The company is also hoping the latest round of updates will help reverse a slip in Octavia sales, which to the end of May are at 717 units (down 10.3 per cent). The Scout, which was launched in March last year, has managed 173 units for the year to date.

The NE-series Octavia was launched in Australia in late 2013 and is based on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB modular front-drive architecture.

Since the Euro 6 upgrades late last year, the 110TSI Ambition and Style have been powered by a 1.4-litre direct-injection four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine delivering 110kW of power at 6000rpm and 250Nm of torque from 1500-3000rpm.

This engine returns combined-cycle fuel economy of 5.3 litres per 100km with the six-speed manual or 5.4L/100km when specified with a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic.

There is also a 110kW/320Nm 110TDI four-cylinder turbo-diesel available with a six-speed DSG, averaging just 4.7L/100km.

Both powertrains use a MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension layout, while a multi-link rear set-up is provided with the RS and Octavia Scout 4x4.

The front-wheel-drive RS is offered in either 162TSI turbo-petrol or 135TDI turbo-diesel guise. Both are 2.0-litre four-cylinder units offering 162kW/350Nm in petrol form (paired with a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG) or 135kW/380Nm with the diesel, which has a six-speed DSG only.

The diesel manages 4.8L/100km in sedan form, while the RS petrol consumes as little as 6.4L/100km with the DSG.

The Octavia Scout is available in two variants: 110TDI manual (with a 110kW/340Nm 2.0-litre diesel, returning 4.9L/100km) or 132TSI DSG (with 132kW/280Nm 2.0-litre turbo-petrol, offering 6.7L/100km).

As previously reported, an RS230 high-performance flagship will also join the Octavia range in both sedan and wagon formats from October this year.

2016 Skoda Octavia pricing*
110TSI Ambition sedan $22,990
110TSI Ambition sedan (a) $25,290
110TSI Ambition wagon $24,690
110TSI Ambitino wagon (a) $26,990
110TSI Style sedan (a) $33,790
110TDI Style sedan (a) $36,890
110TSI Style wagon (a) $35,490
110TDI Style wagon (a) $38,490
162TSI RS sedan $37,890
162TSI RS sedan (a) $40,190
135TDI RS sedan (a) $41,290
162TSI RS wagon $39,590
162TSI RS wagon (a) $41,890
135TDI RS wagon (a) $42,990
110TDI Scout 4x4 $33,290
132TSI Scout 4x4 (a) $38,990
*Excludes on-road costs

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