Skoda Octavia review - Engines, performance and drive
The engine range is impressively efficient, and the Octavia is more fun than it looks
Behind the wheel, the conservative appearance of non-vRS Skoda Octavia models matches their handling. While the Octavia shares many components with the Volkswagen Golf and SEAT Leon, the Skoda isn't quite as good to drive as either of them - or the Ford Focus, for that matter.
There's very little body roll in the Octavia; and, although there's less sound deadening, which means you hear bumps in the road more than in the VW, it's far from uncomfortable. The 4x4 estate is unique in offering a more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension, and this noticeably improves both ride and handling.
The Skoda Octavia vRS gets the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine from the Volkswagen Golf GTI. It manages 0-62mph in just 6.8 seconds with a 154mph maximum, it handles rather well, and it will suit keen drivers who are also on the look-out for practicality and economy.
The engine range on the Skoda Octavia yields plenty of choice. It’s comprised of 1.6 and 2.0 TDI diesels and 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0 TSI petrols, many of which are available with Skoda's excellent automatic DSG gearbox.
The entry level engines aren't particularly thrilling, but they get the job done and all blend performance and economy very well. The petrol-powered vRS tops the performance table, and while there have been different versions available in the past with 217bhp and 227bhp, the current model has 242bhp. Add in the car's lowered suspension and an electronically-controlled diff that distributes torque across the front axle to give better traction out of corners, and it's a pretty handy hot hatch (or estate). It manages 0-62mph in 6.6 secs and a 155mph maximum speed. The diesel vRS hits 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds (or 7.6 seconds for the 4x4 version), but has a welcome extra wallop of low-end grunt, which makes its performance very usable in daily driving.
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At the other end of the range, the 113bhp 1.0-litre TSI is surprisingly perky, with a 0-62mph time of 9.9 seconds and a 128mph maximum. If you need a little more grunt, the 1.5 TSI from the VW Group will oblige. This is called EcoTSI elsewhere in the company, and it features cylinder deactivation to boost economy. It has 148bhp and 250Nm outputs, and it represents a compelling package for family motoring – it's punchy and makes the most of the generous torque on offer to deliver reliable and linear performance. That means it’s well suited to overtaking and motorway driving. It's impressively refined, too, as well as being hooked up to a snappy six-speed manual gearbox or quick-shifting DSG auto.
The turbocharged petrol engines in the Skoda Octavia are definitely worth considering if you're not doing many long journeys, but if you're planning on covering big miles, then go for a diesel engine – the 148bhp provided by the 2.0 TDI engine offers 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds and is a great choice. The diesels are slightly more raucous than their equivalents in the Audi A3 or Volkswagen Golf, but the economy will be worth it.
Overall, it's a diesel model that's our pick of the bunch. Powered by a 113bhp 1.6 TDI engine, it isn't the quickest, but it is by far the most economical, and there's precious little penalty in terms of cornering ability and refinement compared to less frugal versions.
In this review
- 1Skoda Octavia reviewThe Skoda Octavia is a subtle alternative to the Volkswagen Golf that offers more space and better value
- 2Engines, performance and drive - currently readingThe engine range is impressively efficient, and the Octavia is more fun than it looks
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsImpressive economy is one of the Octavia diesel's strengths
- 4Interior, design and technologyRestrained and sensible styling wraps up a full house of technology options
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceIt's pretty simple. If you need more space than the Octavia offers, buy a van...
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe Skoda Octavia has an enviable reputation for reliability, and a five-star Euro NCAP rating