Skoda Octavia vs rivals

20 Feb, 2013 10:30am

The all-new Skoda Octavia adds more luxury to the spacious, top-value package. But can it beat the Mk7 Volkswagen Golf and Honda Civic?

In the cut and thrust of the compact hatch market, a car needs a unique selling point to stand out. The Skoda Octavia's has always been to offer acres of space at a value price, but the new model builds on this by adding a level of luxury never before seen from the brand.

In its first test, the Octavia meets two cars that also offer their own unique take on the class. The Honda Civic brings a futuristic edge to the mix thanks to its radical looks, while the all-new 1.6 i-DTEC diesel promises decent performance and low running costs.

Completing our line-up is our current class favourite, and the benchmark to test the Skoda’s upmarket aspirations: the VW Golf.

The two cars are built on the same platform, so should offer similar performance on the road, but does the new Octavia deliver the premium feel that will finally propel it past its classy cousin?

Verdict

The new Octavia is another giant step forward for Skoda. Class-leading rear space and practicality are now matched by a high-quality interior with equipment to embarrass cars in the sector above.

The efficient 1.6-litre TDI diesel isn’t as refined or powerful as the impressive new engine in the Civic, plus the Octavia isn’t as rewarding to drive as the Golf. But for those wanting a sensible and cheap-to-run family car, it’s close to perfect.

Yet the Volkswagen is slightly better. It’s almost as practical, is sharper to drive and has more premium appeal. And while it’s more expensive to buy than the Octavia, strong residuals and low running costs offset any extra outlay.

Sadly, the Honda finishes third. Despite its smooth and punchy engine, the quirky Civic can’t match its rivals for all-round appeal.

So the Golf does just enough to take the top spot – although its time at the top could be short, with the stylish new SEAT Leon just around the corner.

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VW Golf in group test win shock! Hold the front page!

"And while it’s more expensive to buy than the Octavia, strong residuals and low running costs offset any extra outlay."

Only if you sell it after three years (and I'm not sure about the Golf having cheaper running costs anyway)

Well, I read that the Octavia is more practical than the Civic... say what? It has a gigantic boot (ok, the Octavia isn't a hatch in the pure sense of the word) and the magic seat system. Besides, I already drove the new Golf and the Civic and quite honestly I don't understand that claim that the Golf is 'super refined, well built' and yada, yada, yada. Yes, it is somewhat superior but reading this you get the impression that one car is made with cork and the other with diamond. Also, the engine: the new 1.6 TDI is a bit better than the preivous one (basically they played with the ECU of the thing) but it still has some turbo-lag. Try to use the full torque around 1500 rpm while on a higher gear and you'll stay in the same place for a while (ok, here I'm not talking literally). Take a word of someone who knows quite well most of the new cars around... ;)

I actually saw a new Golf (dealer demo) on the road the other day in black. After seeing it in the flesh I have to say that it is probably the most boring looking car I have ever seen. Not even the 'New Golf' stickers plastered across the side panels made it any more interesting!

I'll take the Octavia anyday, it has way more road presence than the Golf, and looks wayyy better. Where's VW in the customer survey reports, certainly not at the top like Skoda always are.

VAG ARE MAKING CARS THAT FIT IN THE TIGHTEST GAP SEGMENT OF 2 KIND OF CARS SEGMENTS TO MAKE IT'S OWN SEGMENT eg THE SKODA OCTAVIA NOT AS POPULAR & SIZED TO COMPETE WITH A GOLF/ASTRA/A3/FOCUS & NOT AS QUALITY EATHER BUT MORE SPACIOUS, PRACTICAL & CHEAPER & NOT EXACTLY AIMED TO COMPETE WITH THE LIKES OF THE MONDEO/PASSAT/INSIGNIA ETC, BUT IT MANAGES TO STEAL SALES FROM BOTH THESE SEGMENTS BY BEING SPACIOUS PRACTICAL & CHEAPER THAN THEM ALL IT'S A GOOD IDEA & 1 THAT WORKS, SO THEY'RE DOING IT WITH EVEYTHING eg AUDI A5 SPORTBACK A7 SPORTBACK Q3 ETC, THE A5 SB NOT A COUPE & NOT A HATCHBACK BUT SOMEHOW BOTH ?

I don't think that the Civic fits in with this test, surely a Focus or Astra would be better suited. The Civic, to my eyes looks very odd (unfinished) from the front and weird from the back (dated and with acne).

Don't know why I bothered reading this article because as soon as saw the Golf in the picture I thought, it's AE, Golf is gonna win

Hi,

the Leon will be a strong player in the segment, since it´s basically the MQB running gear, but with a lot less boring face. Although the badge isn´t as established as the others, ride is the firmest from any MQB car I drove (A3, Golf, Octavia) and build quality is worst from the bunch (but by no means bad). It´s also the cheapest at the moment (at least here in Slovakia, starting at slightly above 12 k euro)

But I can´t help thinking, that the Golf is for people, who´ve resigned on all their life dreams and they don´t ever want anything new, or unique. "Just give me the keys and leave me alone" type of thing, if you catch my drift :)

With regards
fellow car journalist from Slovakia
D.K.

It's all getting very tedious. There's no need to read beyond which car is in the grouptest to know the Golf will always edge it somehow.

I'm surprised autocar, autoexpress et al don't actually cite the additional cost of the golf as showing off to your neighbours your extreme wealth to pay over the odds for a car that's fat/bloated and lost it's way.

I also don't buy the journalists arguement that costing more up front doesn't matter as they'll recoup more later. Most people shop for cars with a fixed price ceiling and/or monthly repayment in mind. The only time resale value should be considered is with a very closely matched price & group car. For example, spend £25k on a brand new Vauxhall Insignia or the same money on a brand new Audi A6 (they can be had for that money new if you know where to look!)

Unfortunately it's likely that the day journalists realise that people can see through their bias towards a few manufacturers will be the day the last reader leaves the website & publication.

Oh and in this test I'd have the Octavia all day long.

Totally agree with others on here. I quite like the new Golf in a strange way but I find it hard to believe that the Golf can forever be superior during it's life span.

For instance the last Golf was discontinued when still supposedly class leading. It must be incredibly inefficient of VW to completely replace a product while it's still miles from the end of it's life cycle and when it remains far superior to it's mainstream rivals.

The new Auris should be in this comparison, not the Octavia. It's the world's best selling car.

I see that you do not like any one who disagrees with your idolatry of VW, as you have deleted my opinion. What IS your honest opinion on basic rear suspension,on a golf anyway, good bad or indifferent.

anyone with more than 1 young child is never going to consider a golf or a civic! not enough legroom or bootspace by a long way. when will journalists stop comparing the octavia to such small cars. of course the golf is a slightly livelier ride: ITS SMALL

I think that the Octavia should not have been in this group test since its not a hatchback but rather a saloon car. It should have been compared to Jetta and the likes and not to the Golf and Civic.
Pointless article. You should have known better but you are inclined to support anything that Skoda makes and by having the Skoda name and products popping up on almost every other test/article you are doing a great job of advertising the brand.

It's a hatch, a large hatch. A saloon has no rear hatch. Therefore, Octavia is perfectly suited in this test.AE test many cars, just because sometimes they have more than one article on Skoda does not make them biased.

New Octavia is better than new Auris all day long, and won't get recalled every week for dodgy build quality like the Toyota range do.

Basically if you want Space,comfort and useability and you value for your hard earned cash you buy the Octavia if you are a blinkered badge Snob you Shoe horn your Family and Kit into the small and Way overpriced Golf. If you are over 50 you buy the Civic, simple.

I saw a new black Golf the other week and couldn't agree with you more. It's only because I'm such a nerd that I realised it was the new Golf.

Have to say it looks infinitely more striking in white. Be careful choosing the colour of your new Golf.

Golf. Worthy but very dull. If it had a Toyota badge on it, they would slag it off for being boring and lacking flair. But hang on, It's a VW, so it's seen as desirable by unadventurous types. It will look the same in 20 years. At least Civics and some Citroens at least try to do something new.

What was it that Henry Ford said? 'If I had asked people what they wanted, they would ask for a faster horse'.....

so true!! i think this will all change when we start seeing GTI and R models roaming around though!

hyundai i30 is better than any of them , better built, just as refined and multilink rear suspension.

I don't think anyone needed a crystal ball to predict AE's preference on this one. VW/Audi 1st-always, Skoda/Seat 2nd...only behind VW/Audi...everything else 3rd...esp. if it's French or Japanese. Hackneyed old journalism. Cars hold their value based on the snobbery/desirability created by the likes of AE.

Your name says it all

AEX 1330
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