Here are some impressive stats – last month Skoda sold 89,600 cars globally. That’s the best April ever for Volkswagen Group’s Czech Republic brand with sales up 21 per-cent up in Europe (26 per-cent in the UK alone) and 7.0 per-cent up in China (Skoda’s largest individual market).
Sales of the mid-size Octavia – Skoda’s top-selling model - are up by 60 per-cent just in Western Europe.
There’s no ‘black art’ here – Skoda products are nicely designed, well-built, comprehensively equipped and handily priced. Sharing many components with Volkswagen-branded products - but generally priced lower than their equivalent German models - means savvy buyers are increasingly looking to Skodas in many market segments.
Skoda Octavia Wagon Overview
As we know, the Skoda Octavia is based on the slightly smaller Volkswagen Golf. However the Volkswagen Group is the master at crosspollination of models across multiple brands and you could park a Skoda Octavia wagon next to a Volkswagen Golf wagon and only the ‘VW Anoraks’ would pick the shared bits.
We scored the mid-grade Skoda Octavia wagon in ‘Ambition Plus’ specification and with its chrome-highlighted Skoda-specific front end (looks kind-of better than Golf we think) and rear-end, plus 17-inch alloy wheels…well the whole package somehow looks more substantial that the Golf.
Priced at $28,140 ($2,700 more than the ‘Ambition’ model, but $1,150 less than the ‘Comfortline’ grade Volkswagen Golf wagon), the Skoda Octavia ‘Ambition Plus’ wagon packs some impressive extras including rear side airbags, fatigue detection, upgraded ‘Bolero’ audio with 5.8-inch touch-screen, cruise control, and rear parking sensors. Our test car was fitted with the optional ‘Tech Pack’ which adds adaptive cruise control, City Emergency Brake, front fog lights, Automatic Parking Assist and the premium 10-speaker Canton audio system.
Skoda Octavia Wagon Engine
Our Skoda Octavia wagon was equipped with the 103TSI - a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine familiar in both the Skoda lineup and the Volkswagen Golf. Like all Volkswagen Group engines, don’t be deceived by the relatively small displacement – with advanced technology (particularly turbocharging) the 103TSI is responsive and refined at all speeds.
Maximum power is 103kW at 4500rpm (500rpm less than the equivalent sedan model) and a flat torque curve sees 250Nm delivered between 1500rpm – 3000rpm. Drive is to the front wheels via Volkswagen’s excellent 7-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission.
As you’d expect from the Volkswagen Group, this high-tech combo is very sharp in the fuel consumption and emissions departments – 5.2l/100kms (combined cycle) and 121g/km.
Skoda Octavia Wagon The Interior
There’s a lot of Volkswagen going on inside the Skoda Octavia wagon – and that’s a good thing. Some surprises too for a wagon stickered south of $30K - such as the chilled glovebox and sliding centre console arm-rest.
Out-back there’s an impressive 1558-litres of cargo space (rear seat folded) or 568-litres when it’s in-place. Ultimately for both family and fleet buyers these are the stats which count when considering a wagon purchase.
But it’s the Volkswagen cues which provide familiarity for those who shop within the Volkswagen Group and reassurance for those who are joining the family for the first time with expectations of the hallmark quality and contemporary design. Things like the crisp, white instrumentation, the stalk control for adaptive cruise control, controls for the power windows/mirrors and the DSG gear lever.
Rake/reach adjustment for the steering wheel and lots of seat adjustment (including height) provides the usual Volkswagen driving position and the seats provide the expected Volkswagen-grade firmness and support.
Rear seat accommodation seems surprisingly spacious for a car in this league. In fact, all things considered, the Skoda Octavia wagon mounts a reasonable argument to be a genuine family wagon (the primary vehicle instead of the backup school pickup car)
Skoda Octavia Wagon Exterior & Styling
Speaking of school pickup time, we showed-up in our Octavia wagon and a telling argument broke-out between two mates. “Got the Skoda Octavia I see – that’s a bargain-priced Golf,” one said. “No it isn’t – it looks nothing like the Golf, it’s based on the bigger Skoda Superb!”
Not sure if Skoda would be entirely happy with that discussion - but at least it does highlight the differentiation of the Octavia’s look from the Golf is after-all convincing.
Skoda Octavia Wagon 103 TSI Ambition Plus Review
Yes you do notice the Golf leanings with the side panels and glasshouse, but elsewhere, the Skoda design team has worked some magic with their crayons.
We particularly like the more substantial Skoda front-end (the grille in particular) and the 17-inch alloy wheels fitted to our ‘Ambition Plus’ model certainly added some sportiness and upscale look.
The rear too is distinctly Skoda and, while pleasant enough, the opportunity to provide a cut-through fresh look was missed and it’s a tad plain (just like the Golf).
Skoda Octavia Wagon On The Road
The Skoda Octavia runs a MacPherson strut front end and a Torsion beam rear in all grades except the top-spec Elegance which scores a multi-link rear-end. We thought we’d tell you that because some of our colleagues have reported this fact which such ferocity it sounded like Skoda neglected to fit the brakes or something equally substantial.
Did fitment of the torsion beam rear-end turn our Skoda Octavia ‘Ambition Plus’ wagon into a barely-controllable, cross-ply tyred, relic from the 1970s?
Fact is, unless you tackle a high-speed, windy mountain road like a race driver or take your Skoda Octavia wagon to the race track – let’s face it both unlikely scenarios – the Skoda Octavia Wagon is a neat drive.
Volkswagen’s 103kW/250Nm turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine and the seven-speed DSG transmission is a familiar combination which we find very tasty. Yes the DSG can get clunky in stop-start city driving but the payback when away from that environment - in terms of reassuring ratio-swapping and enhanced fuel consumption - is ample compensation.
Talking of compensation, as always with German cars, the Skoda Octavia’s suspension is a tad firm around town but returns the favour with precise, sure-footed handling over the twists and curves. Even with that torsion-bean rear end.
Skoda Octavia Wagon Issues
Any new wagon, MPV or SUV these days should have a standard reversing camera in all model grades – it’s a non negotiable.
Skoda Octavia Wagon Verdict
Let’s be realists here: Volkswagen Group is at the top of the game these days and savvy buyers the world over are flocking to Group brand products – hence Skoda’s sales success. So, draw a line to the Skoda Octavia wagon and - boom! -here is one of Europe’s best current-generation wagons.
And great value-for-money.
By any objective measure.
Some say Skoda vehicles don’t have the resale value of their Volkswagen-badged cousins. That may be true years post-purchase. A grand here or there.
But you’ve saved considerably at the initial purchase.
Oh, we could go on forever with these arguments…
If you’re in the market for a European wagon, get down to your local Skoda dealer and test-drive the Octavia - you’ll be delighted.
And if you buy one, you’ll be joining one of the world’s fastest-growing automotive brands – based in the Czech Republic, but driven out of Wolfsburg, Germany.
Skoda Octavia Wagon The Competition
Our pick in this league is the Renault Megane wagon ($26,490 for the ‘Dynamique’ or $27,990 for the ‘GT-Line’). We just reckon Renault has nailed the wagon styling better than any other European brand, the interiors are top-shelf and, despite the CVT automatic transmission, the 103kW/195Nm atmo 2.0-litre engine is a cracker.
“Often your enemies come from within,” a wise man once said and for the Skoda Octavia, the closest competition comes from within the family. The good news is with Volkswagen Group Australia strangely keeping its Spanish Seat brand out of Australia, Skoda only has VW-branded products to worry about (from within the family). You’ll need more coin - $33,840 for the Golf 110TSI Highline model which shares the same 103kW/250Nm 1.4-litre turbocharged engine or $29,290 for the 90TSI Comfortline model (90kW/200Nm).