The Skoda brand is becoming increasingly familiar to Australians thanks to an expanding model line-up and through support of major cycling events such as the Tour de France.
And under VW’s ownership, the quality of vehicles on offer from the Czech car maker is now light-years ahead of dismal offerings from times, thankfully, long past.
The VW Golf based Octavia released here late in 2007 was in the vanguard of the company’s re-entry to our market, hoping to challenge established mid-size vehicles like Mazda6 and Camry.
Octavia had most tastes covered with sedan and wagon body styles in three specification levels and, model dependent, front or all-wheel drive, petrol and turbo-diesel engines, plus manual (five or six-speed), auto and DSG style gearboxes (both six-speeds). The all-paw models are manual only.
Standard safety features across the range include dual front/front side/curtain airbags, ABS and stability control.
The entry level Ambiente offers a 1.9-litre turbo-diesel (77kW) while mid-field Elegance features a 1.8-litre turbo and 2.0-litre petrol engines (118kW and 110kW respectively) or a 2.0 litre turbo-diesel (103kW).
The sporty RS sedan and wagons are powered by either a 147kW turbo-petrol or 125kW turbo-diesel, both of 2.0-litre capacity.
The diesels appeal for their plentiful torque and fuel economy, while the 118kW turbo-petrol will please many buyers for the performance it affords.
Octavia provides well-sorted dynamics typical of European models. RS versions are based on Golf GTi and should be sought out by more demanding drivers, and there’s a wagon version to increase practical appeal. Check carefully and avoid ones that have been driven hard or had significant accident repairs.
Inside Octavia is well laid out with enough room for transporting an average family. Fit and finish is good and owner gripes about reliability are few and far between.
DSG gearbox operation needs careful checking as failures, including the gearbox’s electronic control unit, are known. Check brake pads and rotors for wear as some Euros can be a bit hard on these items. Service records should be up to date including cam belt changes where specified.
Under the pump
Octavia will use between 7.7 litres and 12.0 litres of premium unleaded or 5.3 litres and 8.6 litres of diesel every 100km, depending on model and driving conditions.
For an indication of what you would pay for this vehicle please go to CD's online car price guide or our Car review Advice Service on 07 3666 9148 or 623 456 outside the Brisbane area.
Mazda6 2006 -2009
Excellent and deservedly popular. Sedan, hatch and wagon body styles. 2.3-litre petrol engine, replaced by higher output and smoother 2.5-litre early 2008 along with other model upgrades. Turbo-diesel option, manual only, no sedan. Responsive handling. Fuel consumption above class average.
Honda Accord Euro 2.4 2006 - 2009
Another classy mid-size sedan for discerning drivers. Quality build, fine chassis dynamics and steering, supple ride. Powerful 2.4-litre engine, no diesel option, premium fuel consumption higher than class average.
Ford MA Mondeo 2007 - 2009
Sedans and hatchbacks. Choice of 2.3-litre petrol, 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, both with six-speed auto or more expensive, sportier XR5 5cyl turbo 2.5-litre petrol. Belgian built Euro feel, good safety, interior and boot space to rival large cars.