Skoda Octavia 2.0 TDI 150 SE
Week ending March 28
Miles this week 165
Last week’s update was about the Octavia’s Driving Mode Selection – a function that’s not much cop, so hardly gets used.
That’s not something you can say about the standard touch-screen system, though. It controls the stereo, phone operation, various car settings and the optional sat-nav, so it’d be a real pain if it wasn’t good to use.
Thankfully it is. It’s simple to find your way around the various menus (helped by large short-cut buttons on either side of the screen), is easy to use on the move and responds pretty quickly to finger prods. Proximity sensors mean the screen even displays various functions before you touch it. It sounds spooky, but it's actually pretty cool.
By Barnaby Jones
Week ending March 21
Miles this week 361
My SE-spec Octavia comes with Driving Mode Selection as standard.
At the press of a button, this allows you to alter the responsiveness of the engine and accelerator, the weight of the steering and how effective the climate control is.
Being able to tailor the car to suit your mood or to save fuel sounds great, and could be genuinely useful if you and your partner prefer a car to feel and behave slightly differently.
The thing is, ‘slightly’ is the word. The various settings are all so similar that you hardly notice any difference between them.
Also, put the steering in ‘Sport’ mode and all you get is extra weight, which simply makes the car feel less wieldy most of the time.
Similar systems in other cars can make a positive difference, but this one is largely useless, so more often than not the button remains unpressed.
By Barnaby Jones
Week ending March 14
Miles this week 203
On paper, our Octavia offers Golf quality for less cash.
At first it also looks like a more convincing family car than the Golf, with an extremely spacious interior and a massive boot. The handsome, well made and entirely logical dash and dials all look like they’ve been lifted straight from the mighty VW/Audi parts bin, with the exception of the cheap-looking Skoda steering wheel.
Add in reasonable performance, excellent real-world economy and potential target prices as low as £18,000, and I began to see why our road test team voted the Octavia winner of the family car section in our Car of the Year awards.
However, our particular car lacks a central armrest and audio controls on the steering wheel, which I find slightly irritating. I'm even more irritated by the handbrake, which requires Herculean effort to operate. The old Octavia used to feel lighter on its feet than its VW/Audi equivalents, but this new one feels heavier and stiffer, as if it’s been rather unnecessarily beefed up.
Worse, the low speed ride is too firm and prone to fidget. I could accept this on a sportier version, but our SE wears modest 16-inch wheels and relatively high-profile tyres with plenty of sidewall.
Thus equipped, the Octavia is not by any means an interesting car to drive, so it comes as a disappointment to find that if the car has any liveliness at all it appears to be only in the ride quality.
Week ending March 7
Miles driven this week 181
Every week I delve into our extensive True MPG database (it now covers around 400 models) to produce a round-up of real-world fuel economy figures for different types of car.
One of the things I always notice is that 2.0-litre diesel engines tend to come remarkably close to matching their official MPG data. These 2.0s are usually flexible engines with between 140bhp and 160bhp, which can pull in top gear from relatively low revs.
Our long-term Skoda Octavia is no different. The 148bhp engine is strong and reasonably smooth, yet its extra grunt over the 1.6 TDI doesn’t really dent the fuel economy. In fact, with my driving style, it beats the smaller unit.
I’ve driven two Octavia 1.6 TDI models in the last year, and the best figure I saw on the readout was 62.3mpg. However, driving on similar roads at similar speeds in Barnaby’s 2.0 TDI, I saw 71.3mpg.
Readouts tend to be rather optimistic, but even if the true number was 66mpg, that’s still better than I could get from the 1.6, and only 2.9mpg shy of the 2.0’s official figure.
Granted, the 2.0 TDI is slightly more expensive to buy and run than the 1.6, but it’s definitely worth testing driving them back-to-back to see which suits you best.
By Ed Callow