25.2.2018Skoda Octavia Estate 1.5 TSI review
The Skoda Octavia Estate is a car that offers terrific value for money, and its 1.4 litre TSI petrol engine was one of the picks of the range. That unit has been replaced by the VW Groupâ€™s 1.5 TSI Evo engine though, which offers the same power as before, but with slightly improved economy. Packaged up in the refreshed Octavia Estate, the combination could remain one of the top picks.
Review by Chris Lilly
Having driven the 1.5 TSI Evo engine in other VW Group models, I know that itâ€™s an excellent unit. With plenty of torque, itâ€™s surprisingly gutsy for a petrol engine, and the power available makes for a good balance of performance and efficiency. The Octavia Estate is the largest car I have tested it in though, with the load-lugger likely to put the engine to the test more often than those driving a VW Golf hatch for example. As usual though, the engine is more than up to the task of pulling everything along. Power in this instance goes to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox, with 150hp on tap for the driver. This allows for a 0-62mph time of 8.0 seconds - somewhere between adequate and quickish - letâ€™s say ample. There can be a slight lag in response from the engine if you catch it in low revs, but these occurrences are few and far between. On the whole, the 1.5 TSI engine is quick to respond, and performance feels good in just about any gear. It settles down very nicely at speed, with motorway cruising a refined experience. Town driving might be easier with the DSG transmission, but the manual â€˜box certainly doesnâ€™t hinder the gear changing process, with a smooth shift.
The Octavia has never been the most engaging car to drive, with even the vRS models not as sharp as hot hatch rivals. However, Skoda has built up quite a reputation as practical suspension engineers, and the Octavia Estate rewards â€˜normalâ€™ driving. Push on down a twisty road and the Octavia Estate will respond, but without much enthusiasm. Thereâ€™s plenty of grip, and the steering is precise enough to let you pilot the car through a series of corners without fuss. But it is on more open roads or around town where the suspension excels. The handling is a fine balance between control and comfort, with a composed ride and one that is rarely ruffled. At slower speeds, the Octavia Estate belies its size and proves fairly nimble about a car park for example. Itâ€™s not an exciting car to drive, but it is a very good one.
I prefer the Octaviaâ€™s pre-facelift looks, but even the changed nose doesnâ€™t look too bad. Essentially though, the basic package hasâ€™t changed. As such, buyers will get a huge car for their money, but wrapped up in a design that manages to hide much of the bulk. Itâ€™s a clean and classy design, one thatâ€™s reserved but without being boring. Thankfully, the practical shape translates well to interior space. Front seat passengers will be able to relax in comfort, while those in the rear will have to be particularly picky to find fault with the amount of head, leg, and shoulder room available when four adults are present in the Octavia. The boot is simply cavernous, and those needing much more space will be well advised looking at the costs of vans or trailers rather than seek out bigger booted estates. The hatchback is plenty practical enough for most, but the estate is colossal considering how much the Octavia costs.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Skodaâ€™s interiors follow the same set of rules as the exterior. Flashy and exciting to look at they ainâ€™t, but the cabin is always well built, ergonomically laid out, and with plenty of kit. The infotainment system is the same as found on VWâ€™s Golf et al, and is a very nice unit to use. The crisp graphics and range of features make for an attractive system, though by tidying up the dash, it also removes quick access to a few controls. The core elements such as air conditioning and volume are retained as physical buttons or dials at least. The seats throughout are comfortable and supportive, easily able to cope with long drives without complaint from occupants. The driver gets a good seating position too, with adjustable wheel and seat allowing for the ideal setting.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
The 1.5 TSI petrol engine officially returns 56.5 MPG and produces 115 g/km CO2 in the specification tested. There are options with better official statistics from both diesels and petrol options, and it says much about the range that the 1.5 TSI is one of the least economical options available. In fact, because the engine isnâ€™t too compact or down on power, I found it easier to achieve results close to the official figures than with other options. After around 500 miles with the Octavia Estate 1.5 TSI, the trip computer showed an average of 47.3 MPG, which is pretty good considering that was over range of routes and employing a range of driving styles. Within that distance included a trip of almost 100 miles which averaged 53 MPG, and another of 45 miles that averaged 56.6 MPG. Neither of these runs were completed with a particularly light foot, so the 1.5 TSI petrol can certainly be a frugal option for drivers. To tax, the model tested will cost Â£165 to tax for the first year - included in a carâ€™s OTR - and then the flat rate of Â£140 a year since it costs less than Â£40,000 to buy.
Skoda has added a number of features to the Octavia Estate 1.5 TSI to help with its green credentials. A drive mode select allows for Eco settings to be put in place, which lessens throttle response amongst a number of other features to improve the engineâ€™s efficiency. The 1.5 litre unit also features cylinder deactivation technology when not under load, and DSG equipped versions see gear changes optimised and coasting enabled at higher speeds. There are gear change indicators for manual models, and Skoda includes a driving coaching system, making drivers as to their eco driving prowess. According to our calculations, the model tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 40.
The Octavia Estate is not just excellent value for money in a price/practicality sense, it is also very well equipped. The SE model tested included 16-inch alloys, leather multi-function steering wheel, rear parking sensors, cruise control, touchscreen infotainment system with DAB, Bluetooth, and MirrorLink, dual zone air conditioning, drive mode select, and electric windows all-round - amongst a number of other elements. The test car included 18-inch alloys, a powered tailgate, front and rear parking sensors, and a panoramic sunroof. It must be remembered that SE is the second trim level of five too, with only S below it, and SE Technology, SE L, and Laurin & Klement above it, which increase equipment levels further.
Having a young family, the Octavia Estate is one of the models I would be most interested in buying if I were in the market for a new car. The Skoda is exceptional value for money, offering a combination of space, equipment, and low running costs that is almost impossible to match. Fitted with the 1.5 TSI EVO engine, the petrol makes for a good alternative to diesel even for those that rack up the miles and/or carry heavy loads. And for other circumstances, the willing nature of the engine makes it one of the picks of the range.
Model tested: Skoda Octavia Estate SE 1.5 TSI 150PS
Body-style: Family estate
Engine / CO2: 1.5 litre petrol / 115 g/km
Trim grades: S, SE, SE Technology, SE L, Laurin & Klement,
On-road price: Estate from £19,000. Price as tested £21,030 (£24,060 with options)
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.0 Stars