The all new third-generation Skoda Octavia is rolling onto Irish roads and from the outset it appears to be a greatly improved design. The previous gen Octavia was a huge success for the Czech brand and helped them cement a solid foothold in many markets. In fact more than 3.4 million of them have been sold since its introduction although it had begun to date rather a lot so it’s a good thing that this new Octavia looks so sharp.
Physically the new Skoda is longer and wider than its predecessor though still manages to be 102kgs lighter. Much of this is achieved with the use of the new MQB platform, the same underpinnings as the latest generation Golf. This new Octavia makes use of a torsion beam rear axle which in itself saves 16kgs over other setups while the front end consists of MacPherson Independent suspension. The wheelbase is also 5mm longer than the new Golf which adds to the rear legroom for passengers. Skoda claim to have the best legroom in its class in addition to the largest bootspace at 590 litres (62 litres more than the Ford Mondeo).
Taking the new Octavia for a short drive on Irish roads demonstrates almost instantly the improvements that have been made both in handling and ride. Even wearing good-looking 17 inch alloy wheels the ride soaked up the bumps while transmitting far less noise and vibration through the cabin. The steering felt well weighted and pretty direct though a more comprehensive review in a few weeks will allow for more feedback on this front.
A wide range of engines will be offered with the Octavia starting from a 1.2 TSI petrol which will come in both 86bhp & 105bhp guises. This is followed by two more petrol engines; a 1.4 TSI (140bhp) and a 180 bhp 1.8 TSI. Skoda expect most of their sales to come from diesel engines which will be a 1.6 TDI (105bhp) and a 2.0 TDI (150bhp). In late 2013 there will be a 1.6 TDI Greenline engine which is claimed to have CO2 emissions of just 89g/km. All engines bar the 86bhp 1.2 TSI will come with start-stop technology as standard.
There will be three trim levels on the Octavia – Active, Ambition & Elegance. Although the entry-level Active trim is generous enough, most buyers will make the step-up to the Ambition trim which adds air conditioning , 4 spoke multi-function steering wheel, bluetooth and 16 inch alloy wheels. Buyers opting for the Elegance trim will benefit from “Climtronic” dual-zone air conditioning, cruise control, park distance control and the “Bolero” infotainment system. This can be upgraded to the Columbus system which consists of an 8 inch colour display with DVD drive, 2 SD card slots, 64GB internal memory and 3D satellite navigation.
Prices for the new Skoda Octavia will begin at €18,995 for the 1.2 TSI Active although the most popular models will probably be the 1.4 TSI Ambition (€24,545) and 1.6 TDI Acitve (€22,195). The price for the 1.6 TDI Ambition is the same as the 1.4 TSI Ambition making the choice for buyers more about what engine they prefer rather than what one they can afford.