From £15,9508
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

Our Verdict

Skoda Octavia

Skoda’s practical and spacious family hatchback takes a step up in size

19 August 2016

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. 

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%

Join the debate

Comments
8

20 August 2016
That MPG figure is superb. Practically the same as the Audi 1.6 diesel which clocked 45.5 mpg in the same test.

20 August 2016
I've got one with the 1.8 TFSI engine and 7 speed DSG.
Average economy so far has been 46.5 mpg mostly using eco mode. Even in eco, there's still plenty of poke when necessary. It's a lot more economical than I thought it'd be thanks to a combo of stop-start, the DSG box and eco mode where I can legally coast when possible. Getting the knack of when to coast and when to trail under engine breaking may also be helping.

The biggest influence on economy I've noticed is engine temperature (and indirectly ambient temperature). It takes no time to heat the coolant but my car also has oil temperature which takes anything from 5 to 10 miles to reach 105℃ depending on ambient temperature. This is definitely noticeable given my relatively short commute of about 13 miles each way.

Best I've seen for a journey is 58 mpg (one time when the engine was already warm, another when it was already 28℃), the worst has been 32 mpg.

I reckon I'd average at least 50 with the 1 litre and 6 speed manual, more if it had DSG. Given the recent article on downsizing it would be an interesting albeit unfair comparison given the performance difference.

20 August 2016
metanoid android wrote:

It's a lot more economical than I thought it'd be thanks to a combo of stop-start, the DSG box and eco mode where I can legally coast when possible. Getting the knack of when to coast and when to trail under engine breaking may also be helping.

Interested in your experiences here (re: 1.8 TFSI engine and 7 speed DSG). My car has DSG with eco/coasting mode, although I remain sceptical over its benefits. I have done "replica" journeys with it in use and with it not in use, and remarkably perhaps I have found the car to be more economical in standard setting rather than eco. My view tends towards the secret being a careful right foot and anticipation rather than coasting. I know the eco mode does more than just allow coasting, but as I say, I have noticed no tangible benefit on my diesel. I would be interested to learn what the difference in fuel used is between and engine "coasting" (i.e. on idle) for a set period and for the same period on "over-run". Does idle use more in fact, I wonder?

The result for this Skoda is impressive when you consider that the S90 2 litre "downsized" diesel worked less well in the real world tests. So although that article is doubting the benefits of downsized turbos, the Skoda rather flies in the face of the objections, in what is a spacious car too.

21 August 2016
I haven't tried replica journeys comparing the various modes yet. I've just assumed eco will be more efficient than normal (although your not the first to say - unless it was you who also said it on Briskoda).

I think I'd find it hard to do replica journeys given my relatively short commute. There's always other factors that would influence the result: ambient temperature, traffic, traffic lights etc.

I think I'd have to commit to trying each mode for a whole tank to get any meaningful comparison.

I've heard Skoda have updated the infotainment system since my car and I believe it is now possible to download driving data to study.

As for whether coasting is more efficient or not, I suppose it depends on how you use it. First and foremost, I have consideration for other road users. If there is no one behind me, on a suitable stretch of road, say the end of my local motorway, I will coast to the roundabout. Going down a longish downhill straight, I will tap the breaks gentle to engage the transmission. Before I reach the bottom of the hill, I'll tap the throttle to gain a little more speed as the surface flattens out.

It's trial and error really. I notice my 7 DSG is officially more efficient than the 6 speed manual. I'm sure there are drivers that could run it close but it'd take a lot of effort.

You're right, judicial use of the throttle is key. And with such potency, it is often hard not to exploit it!

21 August 2016
Thanks for the feedback, always nice to hear (positives) from others.
metanoid android wrote:

First and foremost, I have consideration for other road users.

Absolutely. No one would realise I was driving economically when I am in that frame of mind. Consideration is paramount, not economy. So today, for example, I have just done a "round trip" comprising three distinct journeys, including dual carriageway and rural/country lanes, totalling 78 miles and the computer trip reads 59.5 without an "eco" setting in sight. That is with less efficient 6-speed DSG too. I know from experience that the computer is spot on with my car. Anyway, have a go with experimenting. I have to say, I don't actually like the freewheeling/eco effect in general driving so now don't bother with it.

20 August 2016
I bet something last gen, like a Honda 1.8 in the same test will get mid 30's.

21 August 2016
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.

23 August 2016
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.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left

 

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