It may be a reflection on my IQ, but I like to keep things simple. As such, I’m a big fan of the Skoda’s interior.
Not that simple is a synonym for barren, for the Octavia RS230 is loaded with equipment. There are more airbags than you can throw a crash test dummy at, electric front seats (driver’s with memory function), heated seats front and rear, dual-zone climate control, air-conditioned glove box, Bi-Xenon adaptive headlights, adaptive cruise control, collision-brake assist and an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav and smartphone mirroring (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto).
Spend a little more on options and you can add a full-length panoramic glass sunroof ($1700), electric tailgate ($490), 10-speaker sound system, keyless entry and start, electric rear park assist and lane assist (all part of the $1700 Tech Pack). It’s quite a list.
Crucially, though, the workstation is back-to-basics and all the better for it. For instance, having a proper lever handbrake might sound like a small thing, but I’m willing to bet the vast majority of you out there with a newfangled electronic one have at one time or another cursed it and its unintuitive operation.
Likewise, having three pedals and a lever is not only a plus in the reliability stakes, but the ‘drive mode’ and smoothness of both take-off and gear changes is entirely up to my two feet and hand-eye coordination. Those who suffer through longer commutes than my 25-30 minute each-way effort may disagree, but I’m not sure an auto would make life much easier in traffic, for the Skoda’s clutch is light and it’ll happily crawl along in first gear at walking speed.
Without wanting to come over all consumer advice, a quick word on the Skoda’s rear accommodation is appropriate at this point. The Octavia is not a big car, but room in all directions is plentiful for this 180cm scribe, though under-thigh support is good rather than great. The boot is also huge. Figures of 588L (seats up) and 1718L (seats down) mightn’t mean much, until you realise a Mazda CX-5 offers 403L/1560L and a Subaru Forester 422L/1474L. The rear seats don’t fold flat, but that’s only because the Octavia has an unusually deep boot floor.
This spaciousness came in very handy when needing to transport a homemade driving sim bought online recently (a somewhat cheaper way of feeding the motorsport addiction). Had the Skoda been five per cent smaller in any direction, it’s unlikely it would have fit.
I also love the ribbed seats – they remind me of a Maserati Merak – and I’m a complete convert to Apple CarPlay; it’s brilliantly easy to use and renders the Skoda’s standard media system largely redundant.
It’s not all champagne and roses, however. Skoda’s place at the bottom of the Volkswagen Group’s hierarchy is evident in the cheap, scratchy plastic used on the centre console and door trims, though everything you regularly touch – steering wheel, handbrake and gear-lever – is wrapped in red-stitched leather.
Last month I mentioned the full-length glass roof can turn the cabin into a bit of an oven during hot weather, but it seems I underestimated its effects. The front passenger seat has developed a couple of small scars, which I can only deduce are a result of leaving a jumper on it with metal ends on the toggles during a recent run of scorching Melbourne days.
This is far from a definitive conclusion, but it seems the metal tags became so hot they burned the leather. The Skoda’s constant ‘Eco Tips’ are also driving me up the wall, and I haven’t figured out how to disable them yet.
Next month, we’ll dive into the Octavia’s handling credentials.
It keeps things simple
Strange scars on the seat
Discovering the joys of Apple CarPlay
Fuel this month: 10.2L/100km
Distance this month: 904km
Total distance: 3613km