► 1.0-litre 113bhp 3-cyl petrol Octavia tested
► 62.8mpg economy and 104g/km C02
► Hatchback version starts from £16,660
Traditionally in the sibling rivalry within the Volkswagen family, Audi has all the toys it could want lavished upon it, while Skoda has to make do with hand-me-downs. However, the Skoda Octavia’s just been given the VW Group’s 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol three-pot at the same time as its Audi A3 sister.
Does the 1.0-litre engine have the muscle to haul the Octavia?
The new 1.0-litre three-pot petrol is barely audible at low revs, but emits a pleasing thrum when worked hard. Not that you need to. Despite relying on a turbo, this minuscule motor is perfectly capable of dawdling around town in a high gear with barely 1500rpm on the dial.
Use more revs and the 1.0-litre engine feels much more muscular than its diminutive size – or underwhelming power output – would suggest. With its weighty gearchange, well-judged steering and impressive handling – despite its much smoother ride than the Octavia vRS performance model – the Octavia 1.0 is no poor relation, proving surprisingly fun to drive.
More sedate driving, however, saw an impressive 57.6mpg displayed on the trip computer during our drive. The 1.0-litre might be the most affordable Octavia – with prices starting at £16,660 and rising to £20,480 for the automatic estate – but it still includes most of the essential kit most buyers would need or want:
- Digital radio
- Dual-zone climate control
- Rear parking sensors
- 16-inch alloy wheels
One tech treat the A3’s been keeping to itself until now, though, is DCC – Dynamic Chassis Control. This lets the driver adjust power steering, gearbox and suspension settings on the move and until recently was only available on the hotted-up Octavia vRS model. Now, DCC is available as an £850 option on all Octavias with 148bhp and above (so the 1.0 TSI detailed above misses out). We tested it out on the vRS 2.0TDI 4x4 with a DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
How much difference does DCC make?
In Normal mode the Octavia vRS has relatively heavy steering, though the DSG gearbox is reluctant to kickdown without a hefty prod on the throttle. Comfort mode feels pretty similar, though the steering is slightly lighter and feels less accurate as a result.
Switch to Sport mode, however, and the engine instantly drops a cog or two and holds onto gears for much longer, with the steering gaining additional weight and the DCC suspension’s electronically controlled dampers firming up. As a result, bumps in the road make themselves more obvious in the cabin than in Normal or Comfort modes, which seem to offer a little extra compliance.
The engine noise also changes markedly in Sport, gaining a deeper tone and rising in volume. Throw in a little extra boominess and it seems as if Skoda is trying to channel some of the Subaru Impreza’s baritone burble – though in this case, the result is not the most pleasant of noises.
Don’t write off the new 1.0-litre engine based on its size; the three-cylinder Octavia is both fun to drive and offers the potential for great economy. Best of all is its value, with the SE model weighing in at nearly £10,000 less than the vRS TDI 4x4 DSG – despite being arguably a more engaging machine to drive.
Meanwhile, the new DCC option on more powerful models might not be the most important factor for anyone toying with getting an Octavia, but it does make the car more versatile – especially the tailored individual mode, which lets you set steering weight, engine/gearbox response and suspension independently.