There’s a reason we spend so much time recommending Skodas to prospective buyers, and the 2019 Skoda Octavia 110TSI Sport sedan embodies many of them.
It’s attractive, affordable, practical and, perhaps most importantly, a pretty enjoyable thing to drive for something that is so useful.
Firstly, don’t think of the Sport as an RS-lite, because it isn’t, and it isn’t meant to be either. What it does offer is a solid step up from the base model without the further reach you need to get to an RS badge, and for many buyers that’s more than enough.
While the RS remains an undeniable halo in the brand portfolio, for most of us the Sport will be more than enough.
The Octavia range in sedan form starts with the 110TSI (from $23,890 before on-road costs), moves to this 110TSI Sport ($31,490 before on-road costs) and then moves on to the RS ($39,990 before on-road costs).
There is, of course, the RS245 above that ($45,490 before on-road costs), but that’s almost certainly a different buyer profile I’d wager.
Crucially, even the RS represents really sharp value for money below $40K, but this Sport at a tick over 30 grand is uncategorically impressive.
Standard feature highlights include: 18-inch ‘Vega’ brushed-alloy wheels, black front spoiler, diffuser and grille surround, a black headliner and new seat trim, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
Upgrade to the Tech Pack and you move to a 9.2-inch central screen with Columbus infotainment system featuring Bluetooth audio and streaming with voice control, SmartLink smartphone connectivity, USB and two SD card slots.
A spec-tweak earlier in the year added Skoda's Virtual Cockpit fully digital instrument cluster as standard, which adds a further layer of quality to an already well-appointed cabin. I love the way you can customise the view, and set it up to display pretty much exactly what you want, the way you want it.
The new Octavia is still a while away, too, 2021 to be more precise, so this current model needs to stay fresh for a bit longer.
The facelift assisted that, and there’s no doubt it still looks sharp enough against newer competition, so its appeal isn’t just about value for money.
The cabin feels comfortable and insulated, with the front seats especially worthy of mention. I always appreciate the way Skoda lays a cabin out, and delivers more than enough storage space and easy ergonomics.
It’s one of the many reasons that Skoda products rate as highly as they do with CarAdvice assessors. The view forward is broad and it’s easy to get comfortable, too, with plenty of adjustability for drivers up front.
The second row is roomier than you might expect for this segment, and adults will be able to cover longer distances back there. If you’re a family buyer, with two kids, the Octavia will do the job nicely. The front seats are high-backed, so the view forward isn’t great, but the bench itself is contoured enough and reasonably comfortable, too.
The Octavia looks like it’s a cross between a sedan and hatch, and that’s because it is effectively. Lift that large hatchback and you access an expansive boot space with seats that fold down (60:40 split) almost flat and a smaller hatch for longer items like skis or fishing rods.
There’s a 12-volt socket back there, too, and the space is once again useful and easy to access. It’s a good reminder of why the hatch space in general is so handy compared to a conventional boot you’d have in a normal sedan.
As we have discovered before, the 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder feels punchier than it has any real right to. Throttle response is sharp, and 110kW (at 6000rpm) and 250Nm (between 1500–3500rpm) don’t sound like much, but they help it get up to speed effortlessly.
Drive is sent through the seven-speed DSG and then on to the front wheels. It’s a neatly paired package that gets to work with the minimum of fuss and is pretty smooth, too.
The only real complaint, if you want to dig right into it, is the usual hesitation that DSGs have around town in traffic. A tiny hint of lag at take-off, and then some hesitation in give-and-take traffic, but that aside, the drive experience is smooth.
If you stamp on the throttle to merge into fast-moving traffic, for example, the Octavia gets up and moving swiftly.
It’s efficient, too – Skoda claims a low five per hundred figure, and we saw 7.6L/100km after our week of testing, which isn’t bad at all for a sharpish sedan of this size and practicality. We also liked the steering, another common Skoda strong point, and it’s once again rock solid in this car.
Another point worth mentioning, in this SUV-mad world we live in, is the ride quality that Skoda has engineered into the Octavia. Many SUVs could learn a thing or two from the unruffled way the Octavia glides over poor roads, without any hint of unsteadiness or loss of composure.
It feels solid, too, with just the right balance between ride and handling for mine. Job well done on that front.
I had fun driving the Octavia for a week, and that’s not something you can always say about what is an accessible, mass-market sedan that isn’t trying to be overly sporty. The way it blends practicality and driving enjoyment is nicely balanced, too – it would be easy to go too far one way or the other, but Skoda hasn’t.
The ads claim that Skoda is ‘Simply Clever’, and its cars are. Rarely are they not a smarter, more practical and more useful option than the competition. Styling is subjective, of course, so then it comes down to a matter of cost.
And once again, the Skoda shines. The Octavia Sport is exceptional value for money, and if you don’t need or want a more focussed, sportier sedan, you should be taking one for a test drive.