Skoda Octavia 2.0 TSI vRS 5dr DSG
In heartland 148bhp 1.5-litre TSI petrol spec the Octavia feels more sensible than ever – a 0-62mph time of 8.2 seconds isn’t slow but remains distinctly average, and you’re never encouraged to drive too quickly. It’s a well-refined, quiet engine which shuts down two cylinders whenever possible to improve its efficiency. Skoda quotes 48.8mpg on the combined WLTP cycle, plus emissions of 132g/km, and from our experience real-world mpg in the mid-forties is easily achievable.
We’ve also tried the 1.0-litre Octavia with the DSG gearbox, which forces you into Skoda’s first mild-hybrid system (eTec). This too is an exceptionally smooth powertrain, and admirably keen to switch the engine off whenever you lift-off the gas. Efficient – we saw over 54mpg on a 50-mile route that’s yielded worse results from actual plug-in hybrids – but not fast. 0-62mph takes over ten seconds, but it keeps up with traffic well enough and manages not to feel underpowered. That said – load the Octavia’s boot to the gunwales and its cabin with as many people as will fit, and it might struggle.
The eTec is vastly cheaper to buy than the plug-in Octavia iV. A good, tentative step into the murky world of electrification for those not ready or able to make the jump to a car you have to (or should) plug in.
More generally, there’s minimal road noise in the Octavia and the ride is supremely soft, even on the optional 18-inch wheels but especially on the entry-level car’s 16s and balloon tyres. It’s certainly set up to be spongier than either the Golf or the Leon, which does make it roll through corners, but in reality that floaty, lollopy nature suits the Octavia’s character to a tee and makes it properly comfortable.
Dynamic Chassis Control – which lowers the car by 10mm and provides different levels of damping – is available as a £925 option, but we’re yet to experience the difference it could make. Save your money and enjoy the comfort, we reckon. The manual gearbox is surprisingly satisfying to use though.
The flagship 148bhp diesel manages 0-62mph in 8.8 seconds and easily gets mid-fifties mpg – great if you’re doing big motorway miles – but we did find it to be a marginally louder and less refined than the same engine in the Mk8 Golf.
Same goes for the 113bhp diesel too, although that did manage a frankly absurd 70.6mpg on test. Hardly exciting, but extremely impressive.
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