Test drive: Skoda Octavia Hatch SE 1.2 TSI 105PS 6-speed manual
The TotallyMotor Verdict
If you’re looking around for a keenly-priced family car that fits the bill without cutting too many corners, then chances are you’ve already had a look at the Skoda range of cars. Many people clearly have because Skodas are selling well. But, if you haven’t, this circa £15k Octavia SE is a good benchmarker. It’s a lot of car for the cash.
A lot of car indeed, but how is a little 1200cc, 4-cylinder motor going to pull all of that capacious interior and mega-boot-space? The answer is turbo forced induction, and it works a treat.
The little TSI petrol engine is backed-up by a small, quick-reacting turbocharger and, matched with a right-ratio’d 6-speed manual gearbox, for a quiet-looking car; we’ve got a fair bit of spring in our step. And a cute little turbo-whistle from under the hood.
More on all of that later, let’s start our TotallyMotor test drive review with some of the other critical points; inner space, hauling capacity and value for money.
Test drive: Skoda Octavia Hatch SE 1.2 TSI 105PS
Storm Blue is the colour and £15,040 is the OTR list price; without options, is the car you see here. Consider that outlay for a second – considerably less than a similar size car from other brands, and comparable to some rather smaller yet flashier “premium” superminis. Just looking at the amount of body-size-footprint your cash gets you and this Octavia immediately begins to make strong sense.
Sure, she might not be the hottest fire-starter in town looks-wise, but that can be much of this Skoda’s attraction for many buyers; a kind of incognito motoring that comes with the pride of (reasonable) price paid. Saying that, the Octavia looks – and is – solid and well screwed together, with the right kind of panel fit consistency and a reassuring weight to doors, lids and switches.
An inch or two larger than the “Pyxis” 5-spoke 15-inchers that carry this SE lower-mid trim Octavia would fill the arches with a touch more pizzazz, but again that’s not really what this Octavia is about. And I have to say what a relaxing change it was not to be driving a car with super-sexy big wheels and skinny tyres. You’d have to work hard in truly ham-fisted fashion to chew these tall-tyre’d alloys curbside.
Into the interior:
For £15k it’s pretty much impossible to criticise this interior. There’s acres of space front and rear in every leg, elbow and head direction, and with a multi-adjusting driver’s seat and steering wheel I found a good driving position. All I’d say about the driver’s seat is that, for me, the base was a little too soft. They look good, though.
The generous interior space is well-appointed enough and although there is a fair amount of black plastic throughout the cabin it’s modern and well-fitted black plastic and you can’t really complain about for the price paid. It also has a rugged feel to it and that’s something high on the importance-list for those with young, sticky-fingered families. There’s oodles of space for said family’s junk in the cavernous truck, too.
The uncluttered steering wheel has but two buttons, and they both work the horn. There is no minefield of functions inside this Octavia and in these days of button-madness it’s a refreshing change to not have to read a tome-like instruction manual before take off. All you have to do is get in and drive.
Saying that, there is enough of the practical interior-techno that drivers actually use day-to-day; namely a button-minimal but rich-sounding touchscreen radio that’ll play six in-dash CDs and connect to MP3s. The onboard trip computer is also a must-have for frugal driving fans. And if you work with the 1.2 TSI Octavia you should see some decent mpg…
With the in-dash economy-meter reading around the mid-40mpg mark you’d be forgiven for thinking that this Skoda is powered by the dark oil; diesel. But a turn of the key ignites a distinctly non-diesel but petrol-purr from the little 1.2-litre engine. Pop the hood and it’s a wonder that such a diminutive powerplant can nip this large car along with such aplomb.
The 6-speed manual gearbox is friendly - if a little clinical - to use, with six well-spaced ratios working in frugal-performance-harmony to sprint or cruise this Octavia. The choice is yours.
Wind the TSI engine up into the boost-zone and it rewards with spritely acceleration, a turbo-whistle, an endearingly gruff, but not unrefined soundtrack, and a to-62mph time of 10.8secs. With its near-105bhp engine, this 119mph Skoda is faster than it looks.
Matching the cracking engine is an impressive turning circle that makes this big car easily manoeuvrable and in-town practical, while the suspension and steering are more cruise-focused than perhaps the sporty engine suggests. Keep the Octavia in a gentle cruise mode and she’ll purr along almost silently with a relaxing, pliant ride backed up by strong-feeling brakes.
Indeed, you could enjoy this peppy Octavia on your favourite weekend back lanes with a smile-raising squirt of speed and keep the kids cocooned and in comfort during the week. And if your weekly shop fills up that biggest of boots you’re clearly over-feeding them!
Octavia 1.2 TSI is immediately easy to drive, extremely practical on the inside, and I found it very easy to bond with and enjoy with that lusty little engine leading the way.
Ten second sum up:
The Skoda Octavia Hatch SE 1.2 TSI is quiet and unassuming on the outside, vast and practically-spec’d on the inside and, with this 105PS petrol engine, an excitable yet happily frugal performer for when the mood takes you. At a touch over £15k and with the family in mind it’s almost unfair to ask for more.
Prices and availability:
The Skoda Octavia hatchback range starts at £13,280 for the 1.4-litre 80PS 5-speed, rising to £22,350 for the high performance vRS model. Price as tested £15,040 for the SE 1.2 TSI 105PS model. Available now.
In a similar size- and price-range, we’ve also driven the: Mitsubishi Lancer Juro 2.2 DID
Words & pics: Daniel Anslow
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