I purchased the Skoda Octavia in June 2016 (my first new car) after our 2003 Toyota Corolla started having issues. It was emitting intermittent white smoke. I took it to a number of mechanics that had a look at the problem, and they tried to fix it but just couldn't.
I was looking at a number of similar small new sedans, and once I saw the Skoda that was it! I fell for it. It was within my budget of around $25K. (I actually paid $27K as I purchased the Skoda Care pack and paint protection). The Skoda looked just amazing, especially in its Race Blue metallic paint and it looked more expensive to me. I thought more like a $35–$40K car.
The base Skoda model had impressive features. I was in luck as Skoda had discontinued the previous year's base-model variant (that had hardly any features at all). For the features that were included, I would have had to pay extra or go up a level or two in trim class to get similar extras from other competitors. These features included: reverse camera, rear parking sensors, alloy wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel (this was mid-2016 remember, so a lot of base-model cars hardly had any features).
I looked at a number of similar competitor cars such as the Kia Cerato, Ford Focus, VW Jetta, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla, Subaru, Mitsubishi Magna, Nissan Pulsar, and Honda City. With the exception of Mitsubishi and Nissan, the sale price was similar or higher for these competitors and I was not getting the features for their base models.
I was tempted by Mitsubishi and Nissan due to the price, which would have saved me quite a few thousand dollars. I felt the Mitsubishi did not have good driver visibility. I very nearly bought the Nissan, but my heart was already set on the Skoda by then. Admittedly, I only test-drove a few of these cars, including the Skoda of course.
The Skoda has been very reliable, with no problems yet after two years of ownership. Although, I drive it mainly on weekends, so it does about half the average 12,500km per year. It has great boot space and a spacious interior.
On the road, a lot of people look at the car and appear to be trying to figure out what it is, as Skoda is not so common in Australia yet. The exterior of the car looks great with its crisp lines. I love the prominent front grille and the Skoda badge on the car, which really complements and completes its upmarket feel. The interior is great, neat and simple – the dashboard is not overly busy.
The DSG auto gearbox takes a bit of getting used to. It's great on long-distance drives with smooth, perfect shifts once you get going. The only negative about the DSG auto transmission is on start-up, as you can't just plant your foot on the accelerator like a normal automatic. You have to give it that vital second where it clicks into first gear (DS1) and then you accelerate normally, which means it's no good for that quick dash for a gap in traffic (which could go horribly wrong). The steering is great and very responsive, and the braking is good as well.
The Skoda seemed a class above the other competitors, more metal for the money, crisp lines, understated design, and the fact that it's not as common on the road as virtually all its competitors made it stand out.