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The Warsaw Voice » Society » February 23, 2010
AUTO TEST: Skoda Octavia Tour 1.6 TDI CR Elegance
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Czech Her Out
February 23, 2010 By Bartosz Grzybiński   
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The Skoda Octavia station wagon was until recently regarded as a solid and functional A to B vehicle, but nothing special in terms of design. The new Octavia has emerged from a facelift as a surprisingly attractive car that retains all its user-friendly features.

The Czech-made Octavia, available in both the sedan and station wagon versions, has for years been the most popular mid-range car in Poland. It earned this status thanks to solid workmanship, durability, functionality and, last but not least, its affordable price. The Octavia has a wide choice of engines and trim levels. What makes the range particularly appealing is that, along with state-of-the-art engines, Skoda continues to offer some of its older and well-tested units. It is only natural then that the Octavia has also been the favorite company and fleet car in this country.

Before the Octavia underwent a makeover two years ago, some complained about its bland design and run-of-the-mill interior. After the makeover, the overall shape of the body remains the same, but the front has changed radically. According to Janusz Kaniewski, a Polish car designer who works for a number of automakers in Milan, Italy, the new, expressive front has given the Octavia a "family feeling." The new grille and the expanded headlights, while attractive in their own right, have become the standout feature of the Octavia.

Fewer changes have been made to the interior, but it is evident that, with new accessories and quality finish, the Octavia aspires to move into a higher league. The easy-to-use, ergonomic dashboard could serve as a model for many other producers to follow. The four-spoke multifunction steering wheel feels good. Since the steering column is adjustable for height and length and the driver's seat can be easily adjusted in all directions, even very tall drivers will feel comfortable behind the wheel. The car offers excellent visibility in all directions, in part owing to its rear view mirrors, which are much larger than in the previous Octavia. The seats are large, well profiled, but rather hard, which you may feel not too happy about in the beginning, especially if you are changing from a French automobile, but they prove perfect for longer distances.

In terms of user comfort, the Tour station wagon version of the Octavia scores exceptionally well. It comfortably seats five adults and boasts a generous 580 liters of load space. The trunk is well laid out to make loading and unloading easy. It is 58 centimeters high from the floor to the retractable luggage compartment cover, and the load area is 115 cm long and at least 102 wide. With the back seats folded down, the luggage compartment can be expanded to 1,620 liters. The maximum loading capacity of the Octavia is an impressive 675 kg.

The Octavia comes with a variety of gasoline, turbocharged gasoline (TSI), and turbodiesel (TDI) engines, including the test-drive TDI CR Common Rail unit. Despite its modest 1.6 l/105 hp capacity, the engine is reasonably efficient in powering the 1,305 kg car. The car takes a longish 11.9 seconds to accelerate from standstill to 100 kph and its top speed is 189 kph-but sporty performance can hardly be expected from a vehicle like this. The greatest strengths of the engine are its flexibility, fuel economy and reasonable noise level. Compared with the ordinary TDI units relying on conventional fuel injection pumps, this engine sounds velvety smooth. What's more, fuel efficiency is one of its strong points. The car consumed 6.2 liters per 100 km in the test drive. Not bad, but a far cry from the 4.5 liters promised by the producer in the technical specifications.

One of the Octavia's selling points is its lavish standard equipment in the Elegance trim level, which includes full electric option, parking sensors, an automatic two-zone Climatronic air-conditioning system, a CD stereo system, ABS/ESP, and a full set of airbags. The test-driven model even had heated leather seats available as an option. A car equipped to this level with a five-speed manual transmission costs just over zl.100,000.
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