Skoda has given a spritz to its Octavia mid-size car, hoping to give it a leg-up against the likes of the segment-crushing Toyota Camry, the Mazda 6 and the Subaru Liberty. The headline act is the introduction of autonomous emergency braking – tech that can help you avoid a rear-end shunt – in a family-sized car costing less than $23,000.
- Skoda has lifted the price of the Octavia Ambition, the cheapest car in the range, by $500 with this facelift, but reckons buyers gain $4300 in extra gear. The $22,990 entry-level car now includes alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control that keeps a set distance away from the car in front, a reversing camera with rear parking sensors, an emergency braking system that stops the car if it senses a low-speed crash is about to happen, and a bigger colour screen mounted high on the console that works with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
- The Octavia Ambition this car replaces didn’t even have alloys. Instead it had steel wheels hidden behind plastic hubcaps. It was also missing cruise control and a centre armrest between the front seats.
- Skoda is hoping Octavia buyers imitate what they do with the slightly larger Superb range: buy a car and then stack it up with packages. The Octavia will have three of them: a $3400 Sports Pack for Ambition models that gives it a more sporty look and bigger wheels, a $3200 Tech Pack that adds keyless entry – just keep the key in your pocket – front parking sensors and a lane-keeping system among other things, and a Comfort Pack with red-stitched leather, electric front seats and heated seats all around. There’s also a couple of “Black” packs that offer blacked-out exterior details and even larger wheels.
- The Skoda Octavia Scout is Skoda’s off-road version of the Octavia wagon. It’s better than a traditional SUV, as it’s more car-like, and includes the same smart braking system as the road-going versions. It doesn’t have animal detection, so slow down for the kangaroos.
- If you’re thinking about towing a caravan, buy the manual version of the Octavia. It is rated to tow 2000kg, which is a decent-sized caravan. The six-speed dual-clutch automatic versions of the Octavia can only tow 1600kg.
- Sadly, the Octavia misses out on a fairly unique feature of the larger Superb: umbrellas hidden inside a special cavity in the front doors. This is a feature you’ll see on Rolls-Royce cars.
- The Octavia RS is the sporty version of the liftback and wagon. It taps into sister brand Volkswagen to borrow bits from the Volkswagen Golf GTI, providing buyers with something that’s effectively a cheap, family friendly front-wheel-drive sports car.
Skoda is making noise about improving the brand’s poor residual values (the amount you sell the car for after owning it for a few years). A three-year-old Skoda loses about a third of its value, according to Glass’s Guide. Skoda is talking about giving new customers a guaranteed buy-back price to help keep resale values buoyant.