2023 Skoda Octavia 1.0 e-TEC Style Review : Small gains, big space
Singapore - The Skoda Octavia now comes with a lower-powered 1.0-litre MHEV powertrain, which makes it less painful on the pocket, in a time where COEs have skyrocketed. And I know full well that this grinds your sprockets.
When Skoda first introduced the current Octavia here, it came equipped with a 1.5-litre MHEV turbocharged engine, producing 150hp and 250Nm (the same power rating as Volkswagen Golf when it was initially launched). The Čzech liftback won our hearts, with quite unbeatable family sized interior space, and effortless delivery. Alas, since June last year, the Category B COE rose above the $100,000 mark, and overall, COEs were on a high. The former especially spelled bad news for cars which skimmed above 130hp. Cars under the VW group umbrella, like the Audi A3, the Volkswagen Golf were affected by the spike. The bread-and-butter Octavia too was also not spared.
So now, Skoda has a… well, I would not call it a “right-sized engined” Octava, but rather one that is jsou dostačující, or adequate. The 3-cylinder turbocharged 1.0 produces 109hp and 200Nm (the same 3-cyl found in the 1.0 Audi A3 Sedan and Sportback), so it now sits comfortably below the Category A power ceiling. While the engine has less power, and one cylinder less, it delivers adequate performance. It also has 48-volt mild-hybrid technology, similar to what is found on the 1.5. The MHEV system not only keeps the car’s vitals alive while you coast with the engine off or when at the lights, it also provides a small boost where it feels it is needed.
The Octavia’s 7-speed DSG is a familiar sight, and as expected, it swaps cogs quickly, and smoothly. But if I do have one complaint, that is that the set-up is optimised for fuel economy, as the transmission has a preference to change-up too early for my liking. This often results in exhaust resonance, which is noticeable within the cabin. But speaking of economy, I easily managed anything from 18km/l to 19.5lm/l on the highway, while city driving brings this figure in the neighbourhood of 13s.
Like most Skoda cars, the Octavia’s ride is on the softer side. The front MacPherson strut and rear torsion beam arrangement holds its own decently. The rear-end occasionally shows itself over uneven roads, but this is by far no deal breaker. That comfortable ride quality is further enhanced by back-friendly, almost armchair-like front seats, which in my opinion, are the best for a car in its class.
The interior has a good amount of hard plastic elements which make up the dashboard and centre console. This is visually balanced with a stitched leather or fabric panel (depending on trim) that spans across the dashboard. There are also padded door cards which do their part in contributing to comfort and insulation. I like that Skoda had also done away with the conventional gear shift lever, as it lacked a detent, and would slip easily into “manual mode”, with the slightest of the wrong hand movement. Like the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf, this has been replaced with a neater thumb-sized stub.
I feel that on the whole, the quality for the fourth-generation Octavia is notably better than the car it replaces. The ‘Style’ version car which we are in has a longer equipment list. This includes a wireless smartphone charger, wireless Apple and Android connectivity, and for that massive 600 litre cargo area (expandable to 1555 litres with the seats folded), it also receives a virtual pedal to open the liftback-style bootlid. Also, you will get plenty of storage solutions around the car - a signature Skoda thing… This also includes an umbrella holder within the front door. Also for the ‘Style’ variant, Skoda has also upgraded the headlamps to LED Matrix units, which have cornering lamps.
Perhaps if I were to pick on a few things, I feel that the controls for the air-conditioning which are now partially buried within the 10-inch Bolero infotainment system, are not so easy to toggle, especially if you are new to it (the Ambition trim Octavia gets a smaller 8-inch ‘Swing’ infotainment unit). Additionally, the 10.1-inch screen could have been tilted slightly in-favour of the driver.
While skyrocketing COEs are never a bread-and-butter car’s best friend, the 1-litre engine in the Octavia helps to make the price of what is an attractive, estate-rivalling liftback a little more palatable.
PHOTOS & TEXT Clifford Chow
2023 Skoda Octavia 1.0 e-TEC Style
Engine 999cc, inline3, turbo
Transmission 7spd dual-clutch
Top Speed 202km/h
Fuel Consumption 4.3l/100km (combined)