Czech out the Skoda Octavia!
Skoda is amongst the world's oldest car makers, with history revealing the company built its first car in 1905. The brand, now wholly owned by Volkswagen, manufacture their cars in the Czech Republic mostly. However, foreign plants have been set-up in India, Bosnia, Ukraine and Kazahkstan to supply cars for these respective markets.
Skoda has a record that many car makers would like to emulate. The company has itself in a situation where everything they do, they do well. The design, the manufacturing process and the marketing each contribute to the brand being admired the world over.
In a great marketing manoeuvre, Skoda is now available in Australia once again. Under the wing, so to speak, of Volkswagen Group Australia, the re-introduced Skoda brand is contributing another element to the success of the broader company.
The expansion of brands available locally is a sign of success for the Australian new car market. Buyers are rushing dealerships for the latest products. In addition to Skoda, recent new arrivals include Dodge and Fiat in 2006, together with Hummer and Caterham in 2007. Additional new arrivals are scheduled for this year and beyond. For example, Cadillac is due later this year, whilst Lancia and Chery are brands in the pipeline for later release.
Car dealers, like any business, prefer success. And any review of the aforementioned brands must conclude that Skoda is the stand out brand amongst those mentioned. With just ten dealers to service the entire nation, it is reasonable to assume that Skoda will have to expand their dealer network to take advantage of the strong new car market. That puts Skoda in an exciting position, with not only buyers wanting the cars that are so highly regarded overseas, but dealers will be wanting the opportunity to be the chosen ones to service the nation's hunger for good cars. Those dealers who miss out will be able to line-up for a consolation prize, such as a Lancia dealership ..... last prize will be a Chery dealership!
With two very good cars on offer, the medium sized Octavia and the small, yet trendy, Roomster, it is clear that the local market is enhanced by the presence of the Czech sourced products from Skoda.
The larger of the two Skoda cars, the Octavia, is a well-balanced mid-sized car priced from just $29,990 (RRP).
The Octavia is available as a sedan (which is really a hatchback) and a wagon. There is a choice of petrol and diesel engines, manual and the outstanding 6 speed DSG automatic transmission, front wheel drive or, in the wagon, all-wheel-drive. Three levels of trim are available; Ambiente, Elegance and RS. This makes for quite a sizeable selection of variants.
Prices (RRP) for the Skoda Octavia:
Each Octavia features, as standard, adjustable steering wheel (height and reach), digital clock, tachometer, an illuminated and cooled glove box, bottle holder in front door storage bin, storage drawer under front passenger seat, cup holders in centre console, external temperature gauge, air conditioning, trip computer, central locking, cruise control, lumbar support on the height adjustable front seats, power windows, tinted windows, alloy wheels, six airbags and ESP.
Octavia Elegance models also feature an upgrade to the audio system which has a 6 disc changer. This upgrade audio system is optional on Ambiente models. Further, the Elegance has 16" wheels (15" on Ambiente), auto headlights, auto wipers, auto dimming interior rear view mirror and Climatronic air conditioning.
The Octavia RS features 18" alloy wheels, together with a sports suspension and larger brakes. The highlight of the sporty RS is the fitment of the award winning VW Golf GTI engine. Naturally, the interior of the RS has a sporty orientation, with body hugging sports seats upfront, featuring an attractive 'sports' trim. A leather package for the steering wheel, gear shift knob, handbrake handle and gaiter is standard in the Octavia RS. Alloy look pedals are a feature, too.
The Numbers Game
Technical features of the Skoda Octavia
Engine and transmission choice
There is a choice between five engines when you choose an Octavia. This demonstrates the ability of Skoda to meet buyers where they are at, as it relates to the buyer's requirement for motive power. Although the Octavia Ambiente is only available with the 1.9 TDI and the RS, being a performance car, is only available with the 2.0 TFSI from the VW Golf GTI. Therefore, the real choice of engine is available with the Elegance, in which case the choice is between the 1.8 litre TFSI, 2.0 TDI and 2.0 FSI. An excellent selection of engines, if ever there was one!
Two turbo diesels, being the familiar and highly regarded Volkswagen units, are available. The 1.9 litre TDI is available in Ambiente models, whilst the 2.0 TDI is available with the Elegance.
Petrol power comes in three varieties, again straight from Volkswagen which is a good move in anyone's language. The base model, the Ambiente, isn't available with a petrol engine and, as already mentioned, the superb 2.0 TFSI from the Golf GTI is reserved for the RS, Skoda's sporty number. Octavia Elegance petrol engines are a choice between the 1.8 litre TFSI with manual transmission or the 2.0 litre FSI matched with the outstanding 6 speed dual clutch automatic, which first debuted in Australia in 2005 in the Volkswagen Golf GTI (which went on to be named Next Car's Top Drive Of 2005).
The statistics for the various engines are:
In a brilliant move, Skoda also has the Octavia wagon available with all-wheel drive. The Ambiente is available with the 1.9 litre diesel engine matched with a five speed manual. The Skoda Elegance is available with the 2.0 litre diesel engine, matched with the six speed manual transmission.
Six airbags and electronic stability programme (ESP) are amongst the standard safety features on all Skoda Octavia models.
The warranty period is 3 years/unlimited kms, with roadside assistance. Conditions apply, of course.
On the road in the Skoda Octavia
Some cars impress a driver very early in a driving opportunity. The Skoda Octavia is one such car. In my opinion, it takes just 300 metres in an Octavia to determine that it is an impressive car. It offers comfort, user friendliness, predictable driving manners and, in fact, quite a pleasant driving experience. Little wonder that Skoda, overseas, maintain that they are the car company for "Happy Drivers"!
Numerous Skoda Octavia models will be tested by the Next Car team. Stay tuned for a further expansion of the themes outlined here. In other words, we'll report why the Skoda Octavia has impressed us so much. This will provide an understanding on how Skoda has managed to sell over two million Octavias worldwide.
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