Half a year after the start of sales, Octavia is expanding its range of drives. Natural gas and, for the first time in history, a plug-in hybrid drive are added to petrol and diesel. Together with the Golf and Renault Mégane, the Octavia is one of the pioneers of this arrangement in the premium lower middle class. The idea is correct, but the organs inherited from their predecessors give it rather average properties and a few compromises.
The pandemic economic slowdown was reflected in the pace at which carmakers present this year’s news. That is why the Škoda Octavia, which was launched in March, is only now expanding its range of engines. Six other variants are added to the fifteen-liter petrol engine and two versions of the two-liter diesel.
Two of them follow the previous generation without major changes: the top two-liter petrol for the RS sports version and the basic three-cylinder 1.0 TSI. With it, in addition to manual shifting, you can now choose a machine with a small help of electricity, which allows you to “sail” inertia completely without a motor.
In addition, however, the Octavia has the technology ready for significant energy and emission savings. We have just tried them out for the first time in the vicinity of Vienna.
A proven solution is the CNG version. Fifteen hundred under the hood can be considered a comfortable center of the offer in terms of flexibility and performance, although the gas version is, as always, collected a little more lukewarm from below. However, it behaves quietly and, above all, economically. The calm style that the roads of the Austrian countryside encourage is less than 4 kg / 100 km.
The light foot is also worthwhile, because the tanks take 17 kg of gas, which is enough for a range of up to 400 km. It may not be enough for highway pilots, the manufacturer would like to reach customers looking for savings.
Unfortunately, the development of prices does not help him much, when natural gas rises to 28 CZK / kg. The Octavia G-Tec with an automatic from CZK 613,900 is 50,000 crowns more expensive than the 1.5 TSI and 2.0 TDI with manual. Therefore, the prices will not fully equal even at the beginning of next year, when CNG will also receive manual shifting.
The plug-in hybrid called “iV” is a premiere in the history of Octavia. The 13 kWh battery according to the WLTP standard is enough for 50 kilometers for electricity from the socket. For users who can charge regularly at home or at work and otherwise do not go too far, this is definitely an interesting alternative. In the Czech Republic, however, the Octavia is often chosen by long-distance pilots, who must be interested in what will happen after the battery is discharged.
Here, the Octavia iV has to make do with group technology, assembled for the purpose of component sharing and production savings rather than for car efficiency. The small supercharged 1.4 TSI engine, which reduces efficiency with load, and the six-speed automatic with a lot of inertia and friction do not mean the ideal of efficiency – it is no coincidence that hybrids of Japanese and American brands have been made the opposite for twenty years: atmospheric engine, simplest or no transmission.
The calm dynamics of a car loaded with three meters of electrical equipment will not surprise you. But whether it is worth consuming between six and seven liters is a more difficult question. In addition, the more agile style leads the machine to frequent downshifts and the golden mean between speed and smoothness is not easy to find.
This applies to the basic version of the plug-in hybrid, sold in Ambition and Style equipment from CZK 806,800. You can pay another CZK 130,000 for the RS version, which borrowed a sports jersey, anatomical seats and large wheels from the full-fat fast variant, and also boasts increased power from 150 to 180 kW.
The addition of a horse arouses curiosity, but in practice the two versions are not very different, as evidenced by the comparison of acceleration to one hundred in 7.5 and 7.3 seconds, respectively. Behind the wheel, you will notice sharper reactions to the throttle, harder suspension and a louder grunting exhaust.
Don’t worry, the Octavia RS will continue to be available with the much livelier 2.0 TSI engine. However, the combination of features described above makes sense in Western countries, where plug-in hybrid drives are supported by subsidies and some customers suffer from the sporty image of the car.
Hybrid versions are directly necessary for the success of Octavia in the local markets. In corporate fleets, the ratio of the tax benefits of propulsion and the practical skills of a car is decisive. In them, the spacious and comfortable Octavia plays the first league and the green technology allows them to sell better.