Skoda's entry-level Octavia drops a cylinder to gain efficiency, and it's no worse a starting point to the range as a result

What is it?

You'll remember we drove this new entry point to the Octavia range back in June, heading out on German roads to see if swapping the Volkswagen Group's impressive turbocharged four-cylinder, 1.2-litre petrol engine for a turbocharged three-pot was a good idea. At the time, we very much thought it was.

Now we've driven the Skoda Octavia 1.0 TSI on UK roads, where it needs to stack up against rivals such as the three-cylinder Ecoboost-powered Ford Focus, the Peugeot 308 1.2 Puretech and the Vauxhall Astra 1.0 ecoFlex. Those with a bigger budget and a penchant for a softer plastic might also be interested in the Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion or Audi's recently three-pot-equipped A3.  

To remind you, the Skoda's new engine produces a peak output of 113bhp at 5500rpm, which is 9bhp more than the 1.2 it replaces. Torque gains are more significant, with the 1.0 offering some 19lb ft extra twist from lower down in its rev range, but there's no change in the quoted 9.9sec 0-62mph sprint time. However, official average fuel consumption is up to 62.8mpg, from the 57.6mpg of before.

What's it like?

Importantly, it doesn't feel short of breath. The Octavia has some of the biggest dimensions in the family car class, but the new engine's decent flexibility and appetite for revs ensures that moving a family and its luggage, let alone its own weight, is easily done. 

Sure, it requires a little more patience and planning when overtaking on faster roads, and there's some typical three-cylinder delayed throttle response to drive around, but these are minor issues, and certainly ones it shares with its rivals. Push the engine hard and it'll growl purposefully but never cause unwanted vibration, while at a cruise it fades away nicely into the background.

But surely this petrol engine, one cylinder down, affords the Octavia a lighter nose and keener handling? Unfortunately not. The 1.0 TSI is just 5kg lighter than the old 1.2 and feels very much the same to drive, although that's no bad thing. Its steering is fairly heavy but nicely linear and therefore predictable. Still, there's no doubt that a Focus and even an Astra are more agile cars.

There's no change on the comfort, either, which is to say a Focus remains a more supple companion along our butchered roads. The 1.0 TSI continues to control large obstructions well, but higher-frequency abrasions aren't dealt with quite so competently, with a noticeable suspension thud from the rear axle. It's not terrible, then, but not class-leading. 

Of course there are no changes to the Octavia's dimensions, so while it remains second-best in the driving department, it continues to provide the most generous space of any family car. Four adults sit in complete comfort, and the the Skoda's huge 590-litre boot embarrasses some efforts even from the classes above. It's a shame that the space isn't a little more practical - an adjustable boot floor would be nice, for example - but nothing touches it for outright space.

The Octavia's cabin quality stands out, too. It's not quite Golf or Audi A3 good, but clearly those cars cost more money. It is far more appealing to look at and interact with than any Focus, though, and is as good or better than an Astra or 308 when it comes to materials and construction. 

Should I buy one?

If you're reading this while also flicking through your company car list, then we'd suggest Skoda's cleaner diesel Greenline Octavia would be a better bet. But for private buyers who want massive space paired with affordable running costs, you could do a lot worse than this 1.0 TSI. It's certainly a commendable replacement for the old 1.2 TSI, and the Octavia's safe, assured handling is exactly what the majority of families are looking for alongside saving the pennies. Indeed, fuel testing carried out by our True MPG fuel testers on this 1.0 TSI returned an average of 46.0mpg. That's some way short of its official claim, and likely its diesel stablemates, but it's not to be sniffed at, and our same testing carried out on Vauxhall's three-cylinder Astra returned almost exactly the same figure. 


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It's worth bearing in mind, too, that although the Octavia's list price looks expensive next to the Ford, Peugoet and Vauxhall for cash buyers, the vast majority buying with finance will find Skoda's dealer deposit contributions and low APR competitive enough to make it the cheaper choice if you're planning on handing the car back at the end of the term. 

Skoda Octavia 1.0 TSI 115 S

Where Surrey; On sale Now; Price £16,660; Engine 3 cyls, 999cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 113bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 148lb ft at 2000-3500rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1150kg; 0-62mph 9.9sec; Top speed 126mph; Fuel economy 62.8mpg (combined); CO2 rating/BIK tax band 104g/km, 17%

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bowsersheepdog 23 August 2016

Good all-rounder

It's quite a handsome car among its class, the white suits it well, with a more than decent dash and roomy interior. Petrols like this one are definitely a better choice than diesel unless one is doing huge mileage. Some of the current hatchbacks are rather an eyesore, but the Octavia is a fairly pleasant sight on the roads.
metanoid android 21 August 2016

The 1.0 triple

Just read another first drive from a well known and respected rival UK monthly mag from June. When driving sedately, they managed to get 57.6mpg, also with a 6 speed manual. That puts it ahead of my old 1.9 TDi mkII (with only 5 gears).

Skoda UK are still, strangely, listing the old 1.2 engine on there site. I wanted to check whether the DSG box was offered on the 1.0. I see no reason why it shouldn't be.

Interestingly, they also tested a VRS diesel with dynamic chassis control (DCC), a feature previously only offered on VRS models now available on models with more than 148 bhp - The tester found the smaller so the 1.0 triple loses out.

Despite this disadvantage, the tester found the little three pot engine model more engaging to drive than the VRS diesel with DCC! It also had 4x4 and DSG.

I'd certainly have liked DCC on mine! And the haldex.

winniethewoo 20 August 2016

I bet something last gen,

I bet something last gen, like a Honda 1.8 in the same test will get mid 30's.