VERDICT There’s precious little in it. The Levorg deals better with regular slippery roads. Most people will be happy with the Skoda’s greater interior space, lower purchase price and cheaper running costs.
The $43,290 drive-away deal for the six-speed dual-clutch auto makes the Skoda more than $4000 cheaper than the Levorg. It costs just $1197 for three years’ servicing — with annual or 15,000km visits. Adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking are standard; the $1700 Tech Pack bundles lane-keeping assist, auto parking and upgraded infotainment display.
Not much separates this duo inside in equipment and presentation. Each has infotainment screen plus duplicate buttons for quick access and obligatory three-dial aircon controls. The Skoda seems slightly less cluttered. Outside, RS badges are the sole concession to a sporty look.
The 2.0-litre turbo (162kW/350Nm) is down on power but produces full torque between 1500rpm and 4400rpm — peak power kicks in at 6200rpm. The DSG ensures you’re in the right gear at the right time. Don’t bother with Drive Mode button — the synthesised snarl is too intrusive in Sport setting. Leave it in normal and shift the transmission lever to sport when you want to play.
Seven airbags earn top marks as a family-focused runabout. The body is robust, the brakes bite hard even after repeated hits and safety software works as intended, though it is also prone to the occasional “false positive” where the computer is concerned well before the driver.
The remarkable electronic diff keeps the front-drive Octavia tracking true — it doesn’t take much to spin the front tyres when the turbo spools up, though it is rarely accompanied by wheeltugging torque-steer. Stability control intervenes subtly. It isn’t as affected by mid-corner bumps as the Subaru but can lack traction in scrappy conditions. Tows 1600kg to the Levorg’s 1200kg.