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The Warsaw Voice » Society » April 25, 2013
CAR REVIEW: Skoda Octavia 1.4 TSI Elegance
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Affordable, Attractive, Clever
April 25, 2013   
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After an official launch at the Geneva Motor Show in March, the third-generation Octavia, for years the most popular Skoda model in Poland, is hitting dealerships. Will it remain the market leader?

The first Skoda Octavia was released in 1996 as a budget version of the Volkswagen Golf 4. The Octavia, based on the same platform as the Golf, turned out to be much more functional. Its biggest selling point was its 528-liter trunk, huge for a compact car. The second-generation Octavia, released in 2004, was based on the Golf 5. With its even bigger trunk, it earned a reputation as a practical, reliable and affordable car. This model has for almost a decade been not only the favorite fleet car, but also the most popular family car in Poland. The newest generation shares the MQB platform with the Golf 7, thanks to which the Octavia now has a wheelbase that is 11 centimeters longer, in addition to a bigger body. It is 4.66 meters long, longer than the majority of mid-range cars.

The new-look Octavia looks more similar to other Volkswagen Group cars like the new Audi, Seat or Volkswagen models.

Will the new “corporate” design win customers over? We’ll see. After all, it’s a matter of taste. In my opinion, the new-look third-generation Octavia is far more appealing than its predecessor.

The advertising slogan “simply clever” used by Skoda is fully justified when it comes to the new Octavia. It may look like a typical sedan, but it is still a liftback (the tailgate is joined with the rear window and opens together with it). This greatly improves access to the capacious luggage compartment whose functionality is increased thanks to a wealth of storage panels, hooks, a 12V power socket, a rear window blind and floor nets for securing loose items. The Octavia’s hallmark has always been its large trunk. The new Octavia sets a new record: its luggage compartment is an impressive 590 liters.

This volume has been obtained due to a simpler and cheaper rear suspension system, which takes up less space. Instead of a multi-link system, a torsion beam was used. Despite this modification, I didn’t notice any problem with travel comfort when it comes to suspension. What I did notice were some other well-thought-out nooks and crannies in the passenger cabin. Numerous compartments built into the doors, the center panel and the dashboard can be used for miscellaneous storage.

The passenger compartment is voluminous and provides enough space for five adult passengers—and that in a compact car! Also the finishing materials are high-end. Even the standard trim level offers front, side and curtain airbags as well as a knee airbag for the driver, ESP, an anti-collision system, a set of electric windows and exterior mirrors, automatic air conditioning, radio CD/MP3, USB/AUX/Bluetooth connections, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors as well as alloy wheels.

The list of extras is long and includes practically all features available for Volkswagen Group cars such as a navigation and multimedia system with an 8-inch touchscreen, Lane Assist, Park Assist (for automatic parallel parking), leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, Keyless Access, bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, LED tail lights and many more. A variety of gasoline and diesel engines are available. The model I test-drove was equipped with a 1.4 liter/140 hp turbocharged gasoline engine, which I think is optimal for this car. According to the manufacturer, an Octavia fitted with this engine accelerates from standstill to 100 kph in 8.4 seconds, with a top speed of 215 kph. The engine hits its maximum torque of 250 Nm at 1,500 to 3,500 rpm, which makes it possible to drive not only dynamically, but also economically. Other useful features are the start-stop system and four available driving modes: Sport, Normal, Eco and Individual. Even though I failed to achieve the 5.3 liters/100km fuel economy level promised by the producer, my 7.1 liters/100km was still a good result, considering the not-very-economical Sport mode and the winter road conditions I had to negotiate. Another plus of the engine is that it is flexible and runs well. The Octavia I tested out was a front-wheel drive with manual transmission.

The new Skoda Octavia has all it takes to maintain pole position on the Polish market in terms of sales. It has a modern body, is functional, generously equipped and affordable at the same time. But the competition is not sleeping. Several serious rivals have appeared on the market recently, in both Europe and the Far East. An interesting showdown is shaping up this spring that should eventually benefit the customer. After all, nothing motivates car makers more than a bit of healthy competition.
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