Ride, Handling & Performance
Interior Comfort & Practicality
Technology & Safety
Value & Ownership
2017 was a watershed year for Skoda in Australia. The Czech brand opened the year with a bang by extending its standard warranty, a bold move that has caused other manufacturers to follow suit. This masterstroke provided the impetus for Skoda to surpass 5000 yearly sales for the first time.
Strengthening Skoda’s appeal was the introduction of the Kodiaq SUV and a new Superb SportLine variant.
Despite the newfound success, it is the Octavia range that anchors Skoda’s lineup and the car tasked with continually improving the brand’s fortunes.
At its heart, the 2018 Skoda Octavia wagon is a car for those who can shop value instead of price, appreciate individuality, want genuine practicality, and enjoy driving. From the outset, if these things don’t get you excited the Octavia wagon isn’t the car for you. On the other hand, if you can put a few ticks on this list, get excited.
In wagon form with an automatic transmission, the Octavia has a very competitive starting price of $27,490 plus on-roads. This is technically the ‘entry-model’ in the new range, however, it’s packed with plenty of kit. Front assist with autonomous braking, fatigue detection, Multi Collision Brake, adaptive cruise control, dual-zone climate control, rear vents, 17-inch alloy wheels, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are all standard.
If you want to bring some additional personality to the Octavia, there are plenty of options available. Our test car was optioned to the max which gave it a premium feel. An electric panoramic sunroof ($1700), automatic boot opening and closing ($500), larger 18-inch alloys ($500) and metallic paint ($500) were all fitted, as was the Luxury and Tech packs.
The Luxury pack ($4,200) adds electric leather seats with memory function for the driver, front and rear heated seats, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, auto folding and dimming door mirrors, two USB ports and two extra airbags (taking the count to nine) to protect rear passengers.
Optioning the Tech pack ($4,900) upgrades the infotainment screen to 9.2-inches (replacing the standard 8.0-inch) with satellite navigation and Canton 10-speaker audio system. It also adds full LED headlights, parking assist, rain sensing wipers, light assist, selectable driving modes (economy, normal, sport and individual) and keyless entry and start with a key that memorises personalisation preferences.
Both packs and the aforementioned extras succeed in delivering a premium look and feel to the Octavia that would see it right at home amongst cars wearing a premium badge.
The downside is the whopping $12,300 added to the bill, pushing the total price to nearly 40k before on-roads are applied. Selecting one pack, the automatic boot and a nice colour would make far more sense.
As a body style, the wagon isn’t as popular as it once was. The mass migration to SUVs has seen the wagon develop some retro cachet that helps it stand out on the road.
The new Octavia will also draw attention for its peculiar looking front lights which are in two parts. While the design is a bit divisive, it adds to the car’s character.
The exterior proportions really give it a sports wagon vibe that makes it a practical choice for city driving and parking.
The practicality of the wagon cannot be understated, the loading area is nice and wide and the boot is a generous 588 litres or a massive 1718L with the rear seats folded down. 
There’s also plenty of legroom in the second row, younger family members will have space to grow.
With all the options ticked, the Octavia’s interior is a nice place to be. Every control has a purposeful feel to it. The dials that operate the climate control are extremely crisp.
For buyers wanting to get all the available safety kit at a slightly sharper price, it would be handy to remove the leather from the Luxury pack, a good quality fabric could do the job and wouldn’t detract from the driving or overall ownership experience.
The infotainment system is easy to use and the large screen provides a high-resolution image. With the advent of smartphone mirroring tech like Apple CarPlay included, it’s hardly worth the time to investigate the in-house offering. Plug and play connectivity has made in-car entertainment incredibly simple for anyone with a compatible smartphone.
On the road, the Octavia is zippy when negotiating city traffic. The 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine produces 110kW of power (hence the 110TSI) and 250Nm of torque, more than enough for a lightweight car.
The handling is responsive with well-judged steering feedback and body control in the bends is nice and tight. The low centre of gravity inspires plenty of confidence to push the Octavia a bit harder than the now default family SUV.
The Octavia’s suspension is on the firm side and on choppy roads some bumps will transfer into the cabin. It could be a little bit softer for Australian roads.
At highway speeds, road noise is a little higher than we were expecting. Coarser surfaces exacerbate the noise further. If regular long distance stints are required there are quieter cabins from which to enjoy the ride.
Sending power to the front wheels is a seven-speed dual-clutch (DSG) automatic transmission. DSG technology from the Volkswagen group has a colourful history and is always an argument starter. This particular version is much better than its predecessors. It’s significantly better at lower speeds and easily outperforms the six-speed unit in the Superb we sampled earlier this year.
After 1128 kilometres of testing, we returned a combined fuel consumption of 6.4L/100km. Although it’s above the claimed 5.2L/100km, it’s a strong result when considering the amount of low-speed stop-start DSG testing we undertook.
The Octavia requires fresh oil at very convenient 12 month/15,000km intervals. Skoda’s capped price servicing covers the first six visits back to the dealer with costs averaging $418 a turn. The pricing is reasonable for a European car but could be sharper.
Skoda now has one of the best new car warranties in Australia with five year/unlimited kilometre coverage. This should provide reassurance to buyers not sure about taking the plunge on a European car.
Options need to be carefully considered, at nearly 40k fully loaded, the Octavia starts to lose its strong value credentials. If you’re happy to sit low, without the garnish, the Octavia maintains all of its best attributes. It drives just as well, has transparent ownership costs and a cracking warranty.
The Skoda Octavia is, without doubt, a practical easy to live with family car. The huge boot and low load lip make it a great option for pram pushers. If you fancy a lively drive the Octavia is far more athletic than what the majority of us now consider family transport. There’s also the individuality and retro nature of the wagon shape that’s now cool.
2018 Skoda Octavia 110TSI Wagon Specifications
Price from $27,490 plus on-road costs Engine 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol Power 110kW @ 5000-6000rpm Torque 250Nm @ 1500-3500rpm Transmission 7-speed DSG (dual-clutch) automatic Combined Fuel Consumption 5.2L/100km Tank Capacity 50L Length 4659mm Width 1814mm Height 1465mm Wheelbase 2686mm Performance 0-100km 8.3 seconds Turning Circle 10.4m Tare Mass 1266kg Service Intervals 12 months/15,000km Warranty five year/ unlimited kilometre