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Skoda Octavia review: Five doors for the price of four

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SKODA OCTAVIA 1.0 TSI AMBITION PLUS.

Singapore

SINGAPOREANS love saloons. According to the Land Transport Authority, they outsold hatchbacks three to one in 2017. This might explain why the Jetta used to make up more than a third of Volkswagen's Singapore sales.

That model may have been retired, but there is a worthy successor from Skoda, Volkswagen's value-driven subsidiary. The Octavia may technically be a hatchback, but if any car can woo a Singaporean to give five doors a try, it is this.

In many ways, the Octavia picks up where the Jetta left off. It shares its mechanicals with the Volkswagen Golf, but features a much larger body: 412mm longer, with 66mm for the wheelbase alone.

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That makes the Octavia a seriously roomy car. Rear passengers have ample space to stretch, and the boot is enormous, with a 590-litre capacity. Not only that, the tailgate means a much larger aperture than a saloon's, making it a cinch to load cargo.

Up in front, the ambience is almost as premium as in a Volkswagen, especially thanks to the slick eight-inch touchscreen, although it is not hard to find evidence of cost-cutting; the clacky steering wheel controls and gearshift paddles, for instance.

Thankfully, the driving experience is anything but budget. The soft suspension comfortably shrugs off patchwork roads, and the refinement makes it easy to unwittingly cruise faster than intended. The engine may be tiny, but a turbocharger makes it admirably virile.

The same goes for equipment levels: seven airbags, a reverse camera, cruise control and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto are all standard, and there are nifty touches such as an umbrella compartment under the passenger seat and bag hooks in the boot.

You have to pay a price for all that: S$108,400 (including Certificate of Entitlement).

The Octavia does offer loads of comfort and barang barang-carrying practicality, but it is dearer than its rivals. Maybe it would help to think of the Octavia as a car that offers five doors for the price of four.

Singaporeans love saloons, but we love a bargain even more.


SKODA OCTAVIA 1.0 TSI AMBITION PLUS

Engine 999cc, in-line three, turbocharged
Power 114hp at 5,500rpm
Torque 220Nm at 2,000rpm
Gearbox Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Top Speed 202kmh
0-100kmh 10.0 seconds
Fuel efficiency 5.0L/100km
Price S$111,400 with COE
Agent Skoda Singapore
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