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New Skoda Octavia vs used Audi A3: driving

Few family cars are able to compete with the new Skoda Octavia – is a used Audi A3, with its similar price tag, one of them? We find out.....

Skoda Octavia 2021 nose

New Skoda Octavia vs used Audi A3– driving

Performance, ride, handling, refinement

Under the bonnet, both cars use a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with 148bhp, giving the pair almost identical 0-60mph times of 7.9 seconds (Octavia) and eight seconds (A3). With this in mind, let’s sum up both engines with one word: strong. For the class, performance is right on point. 

On the road, the Octavia impresses with its comfort and refinement. It’s not particularly agile, sporty or engaging to drive, though; because its suspension is tuned for relaxedly wafting along, you'll notice some body roll in the corners. Adaptive suspension is available as a £925 optional extra; it doesn’t transform the car, but is worth considering because it provides a better all-round driving experience.

Audi A3 front corner

Dynamically, the A3 is better. It’s just as comfortable as the Octavia, yet it feels more attuned and capable when the road gets twisty. The A3 will prove more engaging and entertaining to the enthusiast than the Octavia, feeling sharp and predictable from behind the wheel. Admittedly, the S line trim of our A3 is supposed to be sporty – our test Octavia in its SE Technology trim less so.

New Skoda Octavia vs used Audi A3 – costs

Fuel economy, car tax, reliability

In our test car’s 1.5 TSI 150 SE Technology guise, the Skoda Octavia costs £22,915 from new. In excellent condition with under 10,000 miles on the clock, a one-year-old Audi A3 starts from around £26,000 in 35 TFSI S line form, or circa £22,000 with the lower-level Technik trim. 

Skoda Octavia 2021 rear

In terms of fuel economy, you’d assume that with such similar engines comes similar miles-per-gallon. In actual fact, that wasn’t the case during testing. The Octavia came out on top, averaging 48.5mpg, the A3 averaged 42.5mpg. 

Because both are petrol cars that were registered after April 2017, road tax amounts to £155 per year. Looking at servicing, the Octavia gets a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty that can be extended to five years and 100,000 miles for a small fee. The A3 gets the same three years and 60,000 miles cover from new, and this should have a couple years remaining if you buy a year-old used example.

Audi A3 long-termer

The current Octavia and A3 were too new to feature in our 2020 What Car? Reliability Survey, however, their predecessors did. The previous Octavia (in petrol form) placed third out of 24 vehicles in the family car category, whereas the previous A3 came 18th. 

Skoda and Audi as brands also featured in the same survey. The former deserves praise for its fifth place finish out of 31 manufacturers, the latter not so much with its 22nd place finish.