My wife and I have recently purchased an MY17 Skoda Octavia RS 162TSI wagon from Thomson Skoda in Parramatta. I’m not new to the Volkswagen 'family' – I have previously owned a 2012 Volkswagen Polo GTI (6R), and I replaced that with a 2014 Volkswagen Golf GTI (MK7). When we got engaged, I agreed to sell the Golf in order to save money for the wedding. It was damn hard, but we did it, and traded down (way down) to my mum’s old RAV4.
I sold the Golf on the proviso that when we were married we would get a new car. Well, we were only back from the honeymoon for 24 hours when a demonstrator offer I couldn’t refuse came up, and I immediately bought this lovely Skoda Octavia RS wagon in Black Magic.
Factory options fitted include the 19-inch Black Pack (19-inch wheels), Tech Pack (push-button start, upgraded stereo, and a host of driving tech like radar cruise control and semi-autonomous parking), as well as the panoramic sunroof. It all came in under $40K, which was bang on our budget. I think it helped that the face-lifted model had just come out to drive the price of this pre-facelift car down.
We only require one car between us, but I love driving, so whatever car we bought had to be fun to drive. Only having one car meant that it needed to be able to carry a load, and I never seriously considered any SUVs because there are none available under $40K that appeal to the driving enthusiast in me.
So the choice came down to sporty wagons. The Holden Commodore SV6 was too big and brash, and used too much fuel. The Renault Megane is an appealing-looking car, but just didn’t have the zip I wanted. The Subaru Levorg was a consideration, but the CVT really killed the driving joy for me. Audis, BMWs and Mercs were too expensive for us, as much as I wanted a Euro car.
A lot of consideration when into my choice and the Skoda Octavia really ticked all the boxes – and having owned the Golf GTI before, I knew a lot about how this car was going to drive. I was not disappointed. It may be a few tenths or so slower than the Golf due to the extra weight it carries, but it doesn’t feel it behind the wheel.
The DSG does have that famous hesitation off the line, but it’s really only noticeable when absolutely flooring it from a stopped position, and I don’t do that very often. The car will still beat 90 per cent of the rest of the traffic at the traffic-light drag race. It’s the perfect sleeper car too, as people have no idea what it is or how fast it can go!
The steering is beautifully light, and while electronic, feels beautifully connected. Really, there’s very little different about the way it drives compared to the Golf, which is pleasing because it is a joy to drive. You forget that there’s a wagon behind you, as it does feel very much like a smaller hatchback to drive.
Driving around town like a normal person, the car is very easy to drive and behaves exactly how you want it to. It’s a kitten when driving in a docile manner, but plant the foot and it comes to life. Push the vRS Drive Mode button and select Sport mode, and the car turns into an animal – it just wants to attack the road. The engine holds the revs nicely, and the steering feels even more direct and connected.
Push the Drive-mode button again and select Eco mode, and the car becomes quite sedate – shifting up early to conserve fuel, the stop-start engine system becomes quite aggressive and will switch off even when just slowing towards a stop. The engine also engages neutral when coasting to save fuel. I quite like this feature. There’s another kind of driving pleasure to be derived from trying to drive as economically as possible and achieving the lowest litres per 100km figure you can!
The leather-trimmed bucket seats hold you nicely. I have a bad lower back and they are a godsend for me. The 8.0-inch touchscreen looks huge. I know there are bigger screens out there (the facelift has a 9.2-inch unit), but this is more than big enough. The sat-nav system is good, and while it is not online it has a lot of stored points of interest: shopping, petrol stations, restaurants, landmarks etc. Apple Carplay and Android Auto are standard and it's a fantastic interface for your smartphone.
The back seats are big enough for fully grown adults to travel long distances, and while the car is not massive, the boot is absolutely huge. It swallows all our holiday luggage, and if you put the back seats down, the space is cavernous. I regularly transport large rolls of fabric for my job, and this car takes them easily.
The experience hasn’t been all roses, though. Literally one day after driving the car away from Thomson Skoda, the car beeped saying the oil level was too low. A week later, it required washer fluid (okay, no big deal), and two weeks later, the car beeped again saying that the coolant level was too low! Now, it was a demonstrator with 6000km on it when I bought it, but I still would have expected that the dealer had checked oil and coolant as part of the pre-delivery checks they do. In any case, the first service has just been completed, so I hope not to have to worry about oil for some time (being a VW owner previously, though, I know I’ll be filling it up at least once between services, which is fine).
I was slightly disappointed that blind-spot monitoring, auto-folding mirrors, and electric seats were all cost options. I feel as though a car in this price bracket should probably have these as standard.
I was slightly worried about the resale value of the car after 3–5 years, but the thing that sealed the deal for me was that Skoda offered me five years factory warranty, five years free servicing, and five years roadside assist. The savings and peace of mind this brings really tipped me over the edge into Skoda ownership.
One of the heartbreaking things about owning a Skoda is that so many people have no idea what a Skoda is. I have had people ask me 'What kind of Holden is that?', 'Is that an Audi?' and 'What’s a Skoda?'. I really hope Skoda can get its brand recognition up there because it makes a fantastic car. It seems that owning a Skoda is a considered choice – you don’t end up with a Skoda unless you’ve done a good amount of research into the options available in the market.
All in all, the Skoda Octavia RS wagon really seems to be a perfect fit for me, and I’m loving driving it. I’d highly recommend anyone put it on their shopping list when looking for a sporty car that can carry a load.