Singapore - As the year draws to a close, everyone’s favourite holiday season is here again. ’Tis the jolly season of holly, mistletoe, Santa Claus and of course, his merry elves.
With Christmas looming, so begins the onslaught of shoppers scouring malls for the best bargains, last-minute gifts, decorations, stuffed turkeys, log cakes, bread pudding, honey-baked hams and gingerbread men.
While some may argue that partaking in a winter-themed holiday celebration in Singapore is doltish, others revel in the Christmas cheer and spare no expense in celebrating the season of giving.
Fortunately, the elves of Topgear Singapore fall into the latter category. As luck would have it, we were put in charge of acquiring Christmas decorations for the office.
Our ‘sleigh’ of choice? The Skoda Octavia Style 1.5 TSI e-TEC, which took us out and about on a merry jaunt in our quest for Christmas embellishments for the office.
Instead of a herd of reindeer lugging this sleigh along, the Octavia is powered by a turbo’d 1.5-litre four-cylinder imbued with mild-hybrid tech.
The engine produces 150 horsepower and 250Nm, which is channelled to the driven wheels via the 7spd DSG dual-clutch gearbox.
(Click HERE to read more about the VW Mk8 Golf 1.5 eTSI)
The 48V mild-hybrid system dispenses a little more torque to give the engine a boost at low RPMs and works in harmony with the engine’s start/stop system to dramatically reduce the car’s fuel consumption to a rated 5.3l/100km.
However, despite the fuel-saving tech, the Octavia is still able to sprint from 0-100km/h in 8.5 seconds.
The Octavia we had was kitted out in the generously optioned ‘Style’ trim, which was adorned with its share of bells and whistles, as well as Rudolph’s red-nose and reindeer antlers!
The ‘reindeer effect’ was an accessory that nicely complemented the Bohemian glass inspired Skoda Crystal Lighting headlamps.
Our car boasts chrome lashings on the front fascia and windows, 18-inch alloys, leather seats and a well-sized infotainment screen.
More importantly, it features an electric tailgate, which came in rather handily as we loaded a smorgasbord of gift-wrapped boxes, stockings and a full-decorated tree into the liftback’s cavernous 600-litre boot.
The rear torsion beam suspension setup helps free-up room that would otherwise impinge on the interior volume of the rear, which boded well for us on our shopping spree.
Revelling in the Christmas spirit, we foolishly decided to decorate our plastic tree with rabid enthusiasm and zeal with decorations we bought earlier that day.
That is, until we remembered the finished tree would have to be loaded up into the Skoda Octavia to be transported back to the office!
Our enthusiasm waned as we realised there was no possible way of accommodating our tree lengthwise within the confines of the boot amid the pile of presents.
And we fell into utter disarray as the stacks of neatly wrapped gift boxes, decorative garlands and loose baubles started spilling onto the tarmac as we got jiggly with the tree.
Even after contorting the tree several ways, we had to remove several ornaments including the Star of Bethlehem tree topper before we could fit the crown of the tree through the ski hatch.
In retrospect though, we could have re-fitted the Star once the tip peeked through the opening.
Tree stowed, we tossed the rest of the gifts and stockings into what remained of the rear trunk space and went to town tarting-up the Octavia’s cleanly-styled cabin with leftover Christmas bling and baubles, as we stowed gift boxes and the like into the door side pockets and centre console.
Astonishingly, the supple ride of the Octavia wasn’t any more hampered by the additional weight of the tree, gifts and our ever-growing girth after we stopped for chow.
The suspension is suitably pliant, so the rear occupants weren’t terribly inconvenienced by the tree lodged between them, especially given the plastic needles of the tree dug into their forearms as I cornered enthusiastically from time to time.
Of course, the tree had to be transported safely as we traversed a multitude of road conditions, which ranged from congested HDB parking lots to the Pan-Island Expressway.
Given the cut-throat, kamikaze hubbub of the holiday season traffic, we were thankful the Octavia is equipped with safety systems aplenty, which includes side assist warnings, lane keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert and a rear camera... from which I monitored the editors faffing about with the tree decorations!
We’ve already had a couple of prior drives in the Skoda Octavia and I’ve personally lauded the ride and refinement it offers, especially on the highways.
However, it wasn’t until we headed to Dempsey Hill for an early dinner that I was able to explore the dynamic limits of the car with some spirited driving through the ‘scenic route’.
Informal studies suggest that Santa Claus’s sleigh would have to travel millions of kilometres to deliver presents to kids all across the globe. In worldly numbers, that works out to roughly 3000 times the speed of sound.
So it was only right to stretch the Octavia’s legs to try to live up to Santa’s blistering pace.
The engine’s amply-padded torque provided the required kick to power through corners as the Skoda raced the amply padded quartet back to the office in record time at the behest of our colleagues who were waiting for the Christmas goodies.
Granted, the Christmas tree had to be bent back in shape after the day’s worth of shopping jostling it about in the boot.
At least the four turkeys survived the journey relatively unscathed… Ho! Ho! Ho!
PHOTOS Jay Tee & Clifford Chow
Skoda Octavia Style 1.5 TSI e-TEC
Engine 1498cc, inline4, turbo
Transmission 7spd dual-clutch DSG
Top Speed 230km/h
Fuel Consumption 5.3l/100km (combined)