Purchasing a new car can always be a exciting experience and reminiscing back to when I bought the Skoda I clearly remember it was not the first pick on my list. My ideal car was the Ford Mondeo Titanium Liftback (and I use the word ideal and not dream because no one dreams of owning a Mondeo), I wanted one purely based on the fact it looked like a sedan but it has the boot size of a wagon. Cargo space at the time was the most important feature on my list. After multiple enquiries about the up and coming Mondeo I soon realised Ford has no interest in selling me the New Mondeo, they wanted to clear stock of the old one first and as I was not prepared to buy a new car that had been out for nearly a decade it was off the shopping list.
Skoda was a brand that I had always looked at from a distance and had a laugh at, usually muttering the words poor mans VW, like most people I still had the mindset that Skoda used VW's old engines and running gear and they would be rubbish. After reading and viewing quite a few reviews on the new Octavia I decided to put my badge Snobbery aside and go and look at one in the flesh.
First thing I realised about Skoda is they are actually happy to let you test drive and talk about the features of their cars, there was no bagging out of the other car brands I considered, the cars really spoke for themselves and the dealer was actually happy to talk and strike up a deal.
On the down side what I found (and so have other Octavia owners) is that stock levels are low in Australia, it's a matter of you get what you are given or be prepared to wait to have one built and shipped over (with an estimated wait time of 9 months).
My must have features on the Octavia was Leather Upholstery, Satellite Navigation, Sunroof and the Canton 10 Speaker audio system. The leather and Sat- Nav is only available as Standard on the Elegance model which at the time of me purchasing my Octavia there was only 6 available for sale, only 2 had both the sunroof and Canton Sound options fitted and as one was white it left me with no choice but the grey.
At first I was apprehensive about the 1.4 Litre engine mated with a 7 speed DSG transmission, purely because I was used to the power of a 2.5 litre engine of my old Liberty, and when I think 1.4 Litre engine I tend to think of my granddads gutless Toyota Starlet, however, this is not the case with the Octavia, the added turbo gives it that kick to get you going, I've also had the car fully loaded (passengers and cargo) and the engine has never felt like its under strain.
It can also Leave a Hyundai i30 for dead (I know I've tried)and with ease it can pass trucks on the highway. true to life fuel consumption I have had it down to as low as 5.9L/100KM with my average sitting at 7.6l/100KM.
The exterior of the car has had mixed reviews, some people think its boring or safe, I myself love the styling, a question I ask myself whenever I buy a new car is "will I still like it in my driveway in 5 years time?", with the Octavia it was a yes, ok there is no bold or crazy styling and is why I like it.
The interior is much the same as the exterior, nothing radically bold or funky, the interior is well finished with not a trace of "cheap or tacky" anywhere. These aren't a young persons car though (and the sales person let me know that by saying to me "yeah, these are really popular with old people") a bonus as I can park in seniors car parks and no one would know the driver is only 28.
Aimed toward the older generation also means I don't need a degree to work the Sat Nav, infotainment system or any of the switch gear, its all clearly laid out exactly where it should be.
Simply cleaver is Skoda's tag, and the Octavia lives up to that, with smart features like windows opening and closing from the key fob, advising me at sub 4 degrees that there could be ice on the road (there never is), various anchor points in the boot, and my favourite is the Sat Nav letting me know the car is low on fuel and asking me if it should search for close by fuel stations, to which I reply "if you're going to pay for yourself", its never replied back.
As a part time Uber driver I've often been asked "what's it like to live with?" I can honestly say my Octavia has had its fair share of issues, till now it has seen a dealer on average once a month for the first 18 Months of its life, Mostly electrical (flat battery due to a faulty component sent the entire electrical system into chaos), the DSG has played up (remedied with a firmware update), various rattles and trim pieces have needed to be replaced or fixed, the Sat Nav unit packed up amongst other things. I also get to play a fun game called fault code roulette (as I seem to have a new and different fault code come up every month).
The next question is usually "would you buy one again?",
The answer is even with the issues Yes I would, even though the car has had is issues I still love the car, even broken down in a McDonald's car park. It was a nice place to be while I waited for Skoda to come with a tow truck.
Is there anything I would like to see in the next generation Octavia? Yes, there is one thing I do miss is illuminated vanity mirrors, I honestly think for the price paid, Skoda could have sprung the extra few dollars for them. I would also like to see the Audio system being made compatible to play High resolution audio files (FLAC), it just seems a waste having a 570 Watt audio system (that uses fibre optics to the amplifier for pure audio quality) yet it can only play MP3's.
The addition of independent rear suspension and more sound deadening is a must have, the cabin boom is terrible, especially if you change to cheaper tyres.
If they can make the Voice control more obedient that would also be a plus.