New Skoda Octavia & Volkswagen Golf vs Peugeot 308

The Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Golf family hatchbacks have just been updated with more efficient petrol engines. Let’s see how they stack up against the frugal Peugeot 308...

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What Car? team
13 Jan 2017 08:00 | Last updated: 14 Jun 2018 00:03

Behind the wheel

Driving position, visibility, build quality

Both the Octavia and Golf’s driver’s seats have a generous amount of manual adjustment, including adjustable lumbar support, while both steering wheels can be manipulated to suit most drivers. Our Allure-spec 308 test car was fitted with the optional (£1500) electric, leather sports seats, but the standard seats are comfortable enough.

Less impressive is the 308’s tiny steering wheel, over which you look to see the instrument dials. Some of our testers found the top of the wheel blocked their view of the dials.

New Skoda Octavia & Volkswagen Golf vs Peugeot 308

Seeing out of the front and sides of all three cars is easy enough, thanks to their thin windscreen pillars, so judging roundabouts and T-junctions is never an issue. Your over-the-shoulder view in the Octavia, and even more so the Golf, is also reassuring, but the 308’s thicker rear pillars and smaller rear screen mean there’s more guesswork involved when reversing. Thankfully, all three cars get standard rear parking sensors. Peugeot and Volkswagen also include sensors at the front, but Skoda lists them as an option.

The Golf just edges the Octavia for interior quality. The Golf’s dashboard and doors feature soft-touch plastics, and these continue further down in the interior, although the general fit and finish of both cars, as well as the substantial feel of both sets of buttons and switches, are very closely matched. Perceived material quality in the 308 is decent enough, but start to prod and press and it becomes clear that there are more brittle plastics and the switches aren’t as nicely damped.

New Skoda Octavia & Volkswagen Golf vs Peugeot 308

Talking of switches, the Golf’s manual air conditioning (optional climate control is pictured) is easy to use and the Octavia’s standard climate control system is similarly intuitive. Less so is Peugeot’s decision to incorporate the 308’s climate controls within the menus of its touchscreen, making it a real faff to adjust the temperature while you’re driving.