Long Czech list

Skoda brings the best — and worst — of its par­ent com­pany

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Car - GRA­HAM SMITH gra­ham.smith@cars­guide.com.au

NEW

Skoda’s story is very much one of ‘‘ that was then, this is now’’.

The East­ern Bloc shock­ers of yore are well and truly the stuff of the past. Since the early ’ 90s, the Czech car­maker has been owned by Volk­swa­gen and uses the best VW has to of­fer in the way of plat­forms and driv­e­trains.

The re­born Czech brand re­turned to this mar­ket in 2007 af­ter a long ab­sence promis­ing VW mo­tor­ing on a bud­get.

The mid-sized Oc­tavia was and re­mains the brand’s main weapon with a large range of vari­ants, in­clud­ing hatch­back and wagon, petrol and diesel en­gine op­tions and var­i­ous trans­mis­sions. It isn’t par­tic­u­larly stylish, but in to­day’s terms, when all cars look alike, the Oc­tavia stands out with its more con­ven­tional grille. Get past the looks and you find a prac­ti­cal, roomy and welle­quipped car that does ev­ery­thing with­out fuss.

The Oc­tavia is based on the VW Golf, and is big­ger than the donor car in most di­men­sions, more mid-size car than small. There’s a wide choice of petrol and diesel en­gines— all VW units— and they all per­form strongly while de­liv­er­ing de­cent fuel econ­omy.

Back­ing them up is a range of man­ual and auto trans­mis­sions, in­clud­ing the much-ma­ligned dual-clutch DSG auto. In­side, the Oc­tavia is neatly laid-out with room enough for four adults in com­fort, or five at a squeeze.

Thick pil­lars can cre­ate blind spots for the driver. Cabin noise tends to be a lit­tle higher than you might ex­pect for a car in this class.

NOW

With rel­a­tively slow sales you’ll have to look long and hard to find the car you want. They’re not plen­ti­ful like some other makes and models.

It also means prices are more af­ford­able if you’re buy­ing.

Few com­plaints about Sko­das have reached

Cars­guide, which is in­ter­est­ing given the amount of neg­a­tive mail we get about VWs. It could sim­ply be a case that too few Sko­das are out there to gen­er­ate com­ment, but Skoda has per­formed bet­ter than its par­ent com­pany in re­li­a­bil­ity sur­veys and has won sev­eral Bri­tish awards.

Re­gard­less, it is im­por­tant that any car is thor­oughly checked, be­cause there’s no rea­son to think Sko­das are im­mune from the prob­lems that plague theirVW­cousins.

En­gines, the 1.8TSI in par­tic­u­lar, can give trou­ble. Many have had to be re­placed quite early in the car’s life, so check ser­vice records care­fully.

The other prob­lem area is the twin clutch au­to­matic DSG trans­mis­sion, which is bril­liant when work­ing cor­rectly, but a night­mare when it’s not. Clutch packs, com­put­ers, wiring can all con­spire to bring the DSG to a halt, so test drive DSG-equipped cars care­fully.

Things to be noted are shud­der­ing, in­cor­rect gear se­lec­tion, hes­i­ta­tion, re­luc­tance to se­lect gears, go­ing into neu­tral at in­ap­pro­pri­ate mo­ments.

Note that Skoda rec­om­mends the use of pre­mium un­leaded fuel. The next model— based on this year’s new Golf— is due next year.

SMITHY SAYS

Neat, prac­ti­cal mid-sizer but it is bur­dened by some of VWs flaws.

Re­born brand: Get past the looks and there’s a prac­ti­cal, roomy and well-equipped car that does

ev­ery­thing with­out fuss

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