The Golf’s Czech cousin, the Skoda Octavia, is also in mid-life refresh mode. Like Golf, the makeover centres around new headlights, Octavia with a split design, and refreshed bumpers.
It’s featured here as the Style Combi, or plain old Wagon as it’s known in New Zealand. Plain it might be thought of by some but the Octavia Wagon’s practicality makes it rather desirable. This is the $43,890 132kW version, and I personally prefer it to the Golf also driven this month, primarily because I’m in need of the extra space these days. That’s long been the Skoda advantage over its VW equivalents, and the added rear seat space and voluminous cargo area are big wins for the Octavia. The boot space is exceptionally well formed; wide, long and deep, and though there’s not a flat floor when the seats fold (easily via the remote levers), there’s a full sized spare lurking under the boot floor.
Up front, the seats are supportive enough and powered on the driver’s side. There are no seat heaters, but it’s no biggie and you can get yourself into a good position with loads of adjustment at the wheel. The dash has been reconsidered, the infotainment screen and buttons tidied up with a well integrated appearance while a touch of gloss black plastic lifts the cabin. It is otherwise a sombre affair, though ambient strip lighting helps liven things at night. At the price it has most things we’d expect, like a smart key, integrated nav, smartphone compatibility and a multifaceted trip computer. Added are a few extra safety bits including active lane keeping, BSM and low speed AEB, though active cruise is a $950 option. There’s a powered tailgate even, which usually we aren’t too keen on but at least this raises up quicker than a wet week.
This version of the Style model has added zest thanks to a 1.8-litre turbopetrol pumping out 132kW. And though the total Newtons are the same as the 1.4 produces at 250Nm, they are more readily available, stretching over a broad rev band from 1250-5000rpm. So this goes well, the seven-speed twin-clutch mixing up the twist nicely, especially when you access the S mode. The engine also feels strong up top while occasionally causing the torque vectoring and ESP a few issues if you’re pushing things. Steering does the business too; it’s not amazing but is well tuned. The ride is pleasing, great around town and with plenty of compliance for rural runs. There’s a degree of roll in faster corners but nothing horrendous. Fuel use during our time with it was 7.9L/100km, better than the trip computer’s long term average of 10.2, but we probably had a few more motorway miles in our mix.
There are parking sensors and a rear camera, but if you ignore the sonar’s beeping, the system will take over and brake the car. A pity it can’t determine that overgrown foliage won’t cause panels any concerns but it still rams on the brakes as you try to reverse. Anyway, it was the one weird thing that happened with the car, which is otherwise genuinely well conceived. The only other one to consider in the shrinking wagon segment is the Mazda6 GSX. Otherwise you should be happy with the Octavia Style as a company car.
|Model||Skoda Octavia Combi Style 132||Price||$43,890|
|Engine||1798cc, IL4, TD/I, 132kW/250Nm||Drivetrain||7D, FWD|
|Fuel Use||5.8L/100km||C02 Output||133g/km|