The Skoda Octavia and Skoda Superb are two of the roomiest family cars you can buy. The Octavia is cheaper than a Volkswagen Golf and about the same size as a Ford Mondeo, while the Superb comes in at Mondeo prices and offers limo-like accommodation.
So which is the better buy? If you’re undecided, here’s everything you need to know to choose between the two.
What are the Octavia and Superb like to drive?
The Octavia and Superb both offer accurate, well-weighted steering and good body control. While the smaller, lighter Octavia feels the more sprightly of the two, the Superb is still pretty agile considering its size.
The Octavia has a well-controlled ride that soaks up most bumps with ease, suffering only a little patter over very scarred surfaces.
The Superb’s ride isn’t as accomplished; it often feels a bit jittery and can hop sideways over expansion gaps if cornering forces are involved. However, at motorway speeds the Superb has the edge when it comes to keeping wind and road noise at bay.
There’s plenty of choice when it comes to engines. The Octavia offers turbocharged 1.2- and 1.4-litre petrols, along with 1.6- and 2.0-litre diesels. The Superb does without the 1.2, but adds a 1.8 petrol, a 168bhp 2.0-litre diesel and a range-topping 3.6-litre V6 petrol to the same selection. Both models also offer four-wheel drive options - the Octavia on both diesel models, and the Superb on the 2.0-litre diesel and V6 petrol only.
Even the entry-level petrols provide sufficient performance, and the rest of the options offer even more punch as well as some impressive fuel economy in the diesel’s case. The Octavia vRS models offer hot hatch pace in the petrol and diesel, while the Superb is offered with a V6 petrol that is a pleasure to use but is one to avoid if you don’t want to suffer catastrophic depreciation and fuel costs.
Can I get an automatic Octavia or Superb?
An automatic DSG ’box is available with the diesel engines across both models, with the exception of the Superb 1.6 and 1.6 Greenline III, which are available with five-speed manuals only. It’s standard-fit if you choose the V6 petrol Superb, and an option if you plump for the petrol or diesel Octavia vRS models.
What are the Octavia and Superb like inside?
The Octavia and Superb both have large, comfortable cabins, huge boots and good standard equipment. They are also both available as either hatchbacks or estates.
The entry-level Octavia comes with seven airbags, stability control, air-conditioning, alloys, Bluetooth and a colour touch-screen infotainment system that includes DAB digital radio. The Superb offers Bluetooth on SE Plus only, although that mid-level spec also adds sat-nav, whereas the Octavia gets this as standard only in range-topping Elegance trim.
Both cars are available with leather upholstery in the top trims, while the special-edition Superb Laurin and Klement models add luxuries such as heated rear seats, heated and cooled front seats and even a TV tuner.
One of the Octavia's biggest strengths is its size. It has a vast 590-litre boot and plenty of room in both rows of seating for six-footers. The Superb is even bigger – but not by much. As a hatchback, there’s only an extra five litres of space in the boot, and the estate version beats the equivalent Octavia by only 23 litres.
That said, the Superb still offers class-leading rear legroom, which will be a selling point for some buyers, and it has a clever tailgate that offers either a vast hatchback opening or a traditional saloon opening.
Which one should I buy?
Steer clear of the priciest models in the range, and the Skoda Octavia and Skoda Superb offer great value for money and more space and practicality than the majority of their rivals.
There’s not a lot between the two cars when it comes to powertrains. With the exception of the economical 1.6 Greenline diesel in the Superb, all the engines feel punchy enough across the ranges. In fact, it’s the entry-level engines that we’d recommend in both – the 104bhp 1.2-litre petrol in the Octavia and the 123bhp 1.4 in the Superb are great for private buyers. With these engines and in entry-level S trim, the Superb carries a £2500 price premium over the Octavia.
For company car uses, we'd recommend the 104bhp 1.6-litre diesel in the Octavia. It's a little noisier than it is in the equivalent VW Golf, but perfectly acceptable for most drivers and it averages a claimed 74.3mpg and just 99g/km of CO2 for impressively low tax costs.
A 1.6-litre Greenline III diesel is the cheapest option for company car buyers in the Superb, but the engine often labours at low revs. The 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel is more relaxed and hardly any thirstier, claiming 61.4mpg and emitting 119g/km of CO2. Prices for the Superb are around £2000 higher but the tax implication for company owners means the true cost will be higher than that.
To better the Octavia in this comparison, the Superb would need to offer substantially more space and flexibility to justify the premium over its sibling. In reality, it doesn’t, although this has more to do with the Octavia’s impressive range of ability rather than major flaws in the Superb.
Ultimately, unless you really need the Superb’s limousine rear legroom, the Skoda Octavia is the more sensible choice whether as a hatchback or an estate.