You might already know that I’m a fan of family wagons. You might also know that I’m
in love borderline obsessed with my own Skoda Octavia. When it comes to cars, I see it as winning formula for young families: no-nonsense practicality, safety, fuel efficiency, and value, all rolled into a neat package. So you can imagine, then, that I was shocked by Skoda Australia when they did something that made me want to sell my beloved Octavia…
They gave me the keys to their New Octavia. Specifically, the 1.8L turbocharged petrol Elegance 132TSI wagon, with all the bells and whistles.
My first impression was, wow, that’s a classy-looking wagon. They’re weren’t kidding when they called it the Elegance. I couldn’t be around it without wanting to tuck my shirt in. When I drove it to work, my colleagues commented on my neatened appearance. Had I told them the reason I dressed up was because I was spending more time with a new ‘friend’ named Octavia, they might have assumed this was some sort of mistress.
Mmm, that behind
The first thing I was attracted to was the cargo area. My oh my, that big boot
y. Watch as I unload from Octavia’s 588L rear end:
I managed to comfortably
fit Tetris in:
- 3 boxes of nappies
- 1 box of wipes
- 2 toddler trikes
- 2 duffel bags
- 1 baby bag
- 1 backpack
- 1 stroller with skateboard attachment
- 1 umbrella
- 1 picnic rug
- 1 swimming floatie
- 1 kids sand playset
…all with the cargo blind extended over the cargo area. Nice. Oh and did I mention retractable boot hooks – four of them? These are awesome for holding grocery bags containing precious things that you don’t want flying around or getting squished amongst other cargo, like cartons of eggs, or 6-packs of beer.
It’s what’s on the inside that counts
Being able to commend the classy exterior and cargo-swallowing practicality are the first signs that I’m falling for a car. However, once in the driver’s seat, I was able to appreciate all of the beauty on the inside.
Leather seats and multi-function steering wheel, a sleek and minimal design, some chromey bits here and there, and loads of technology to play with. That giddy feeling of having a new gadget to play with swelled up inside of me, excitement squared. With the added ‘Tech Pack’ and panoramic roof, this configuration really had ‘all the things’.
I was treated to pinch-zoomable maps, vehicle settings, trip stats, and parking sensors that show the trajectory of the car on the touch screen, and of course, something named ‘Elegance’ would be incomplete without a gorgeous sound system.
When I first saw Canton I thought, “please don’t leak satay chicken and rice onto the door panels”. I Googled the brand and found out that they actually make home theatre solutions. Before I could get hungry, I was blown away by the audio quality oozing out of ten speakers. I particularly loved the ‘Driver Only’ setting which re-tuned the sound to maximise the aural experience for the driver – I can only assume this is some kind of sorcery. Good work, Canton. Many clarity. So sounds. Wow.
The back seat is comfortable enough for adults, but how do the kids’ car seats fit? Although the interior is supposed to be wider than the previous model, It would still be uncomfortable for an adult to sit in the middle seat (if at all) when there are two car seats installed. Here’s how our car seats look for reference, admittedly not the smallest selections on the market designed for space saving.
Drive it like you
stole borrowed it
I’m the type that would much rather a showcar shine than get fast and furious (read: OCD), so I’ll keep this brief. It felt as capable up to the speed limit as the previous generation Octavia VRS I had as a hire car. I’m used to 15″ alloys and fat, pillowy tyres on my own car, and was surprised the ride was comfortable even on 18” alloys.
There’s predefined Normal, Sport, and Eco modes to control the way the transmission and engine behave. The Individual settings mode is where things get interesting. As the steering felt a bit light and floaty when set to Normal, I opted for the Sport steering setting instead. Below were my individual settings for peak hour driving.
One feature I really enjoyed was the way Sport mode (or Super-fun mode for DSG transmissions) was engaged. In the older Octavia you’d have to press and shift the gear into “S”. Now it’s a simple shift down from “D” to toggle Sport mode on and off. I’m convinced this new “S” mode stands for “Sweet as, bro”.
Fuel economy over the 5 days of my experience was at an average of 7.7L/100km, with the total range adding up to around 660km for the tank. This included a mixture of trudging through peak hour traffic, some spirited driving, and some motorway kilometres thrown in. In comparison, I get around 7L/100km on my 1.4L turbo 90TSI model, at around around 740km a tank.
Where’s the “but…”?
As I own the previous model Octavia, I expected an overall improvement of the previous design. Man, it definitely is! However I found a few things that annoyed me personally. I wasn’t too keen at first on the feeling of some of the console buttons, they felt a bit too hard-plasticy, which was more evident because the rest of the interior was quite premium-feeling, but over time I forgot about them.
Despite the variety of storage compartments in this car, the ones I frequently used in my own Octavia that were located on the sides of the driver and passenger seats themselves are no longer there, and the side mirrors seem to be smaller than the previous model. The new side mirrors are designed so that the turning signal lights mounted on them can be seen flashing from inside the cabin, which I personally found distracting while driving at night. I’d probably get used to it, I guess I’m just pedantic about this ‘feature’. Janet Jackson was right all along, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”
At the end of the day…
Would I really sell my Octavia for the new one? I’ve grown to love my humble 90TSI wagon, but this flashy new 132TSI Elegance wagon is very tempting. Like Archie torn between Betty and Veronica – I don’t think I’ll be able to pick a favourite. Not just yet anyway.
Whether it be for handling family duties like a boss, or cruising around solo (also like a boss), the new Skoda Octavia wagon is definitely a car I’d recommend for any dad growing up. If you’re in the market for a new family car, it’d be one worth checking out. And if you’re not, well, a man can still dream…
A side note for the
Yes, big boys and their toys! There are many aftermarket tuning options available for VW Group vehicles and being one of them, the Octavia is no exception. Head on over to the AuSkoda forums or FaceBook group to chat with fellow Skoda enthusiasts, and maybe get some inspiration. Make sure it’s all legal, get insured, and please, drive safely – your family is the most precious of cargo.
All photography and video by The Cbays.