The Skoda Octavia has never been what I'd consider to be a small car. I'm not talking about engine sizes or muscle here. What I mean is that physically, the Octavia is not a small car. So, when Skoda Ireland told me that I was booked into their latest 1.0, 3-cylinder, petrol engine, I thought... "let's get ready to be amazed at just how under-powered a car can be". Well, Volkswagen Group has proven me wrong and this 1.0 litre engine sitting inside the body of an Octavia has proven to me that family saloons can be powered by such a small set-up and still prove to be efficient, smooth and, well, fun.
The first thing that struck me when I sat inside the 3-cylinder Octavia was the just how smooth the car was on turnover. I've driven a few 3-pots before in smaller cars, and even at that, there can be a loud rattle on turnover. Not in the Octavia though. The only time that you really hear noises from this turbocharged engine is when you put pressure on it, but even at that it's not the worst sound a driver could hear.
Skoda has recently been doing some clever marketing around this 1.0 engine. They've been asking people to test drive it without telling them exactly what it is. Most of the replies would indicate that those who drove it reckoned that they were driving much larger engines. This of course is aided by some nice styling to the body. Our test model looked more like the vRS than a standard Octavia and it looks great.
In terms of fuel economy, Skoda tells us that it could return as good as 4.5l/100km. I did not achieve this figure; however, it would be fair of me to say that I had to hand back this car a little bit too early to honestly report on fuel economy (other test-car commitments). In general though, my motor-writing colleagues inform me that the car is efficient and some are saying that it returns between 5 and 6 litres per hundred kilometres. If this fuel economy is true, then it's refreshing. It's about time that we started to see petrol cars returning good efficiency numbers. Recently I drove the 2.0 litre Mazda3 and while it was an excellent vehicle, I must say that I was a little disappointed at the 7.1l/100km that I had achieved from it.
Apart from the swanky new engine, there are some other factors worth noting about the Octavia. It has been around for a quiet a while and initially it seems that taxi drivers were the early adapters to this vehicle. Now it's proving to be an extremely attractive package to all sorts of drivers in Ireland. It doesn't look as good as the Superb, the Golf or even the Mazda3, but at the same time, it's hardly an ugly duckling. The interior gives excellent space and comfort, while the boot offers a very competitive 590 litres - which is excellent for the segment.
Prices for the Octavia in general are reasonable. An entry level 1.2 litre TSI will set you back just €18,995 (“Active” trim). Sitting into an entry level 1.0 TSI starts from €22,880 and with this you get the “Ambition” trim. We tested the "Style" trim and entry pricing for this starts from €24,235. Our test model had €1,495 worth of extras thrown in and it comes to market at €25,730. For the extra cash, my vehicle received bi-Xenon headlights, darkened rear glass, 17" Hawk alloys, a sports interior, a rear tailgate lip spoiler, and black effect door mirrors.
Overall, it's hard not to be impressed by most Octavia models on the road, but this 1.0 version is a real eye-opener in terms of just how much a small-engined car can impress. Well done Skoda!