When the all-new Skoda Octavia was released in 2013 it really played the Czech brand’s strongest cards: space and value for money. It was bigger than the previous Octavia, and closer in size to the limousine-sized Skoda Superb. But which of the two should you pick if you’re after a new car? After all, the Octavia is the newer-feeling car, but there’s no arguing with the Superb’s level of class.
To help you decide we’ve put together a comprehensive comparison between the Superb and the Octavia.
Of the two cars, the Octavia is the easiest on the eye with a somewhat sleeker and more modern appearance. The Superb is perhaps trying to be a little more upmarket, where it seems Skoda believes that substance is more important than style. Although the Octavia has grown in size recently, the Superb is even bigger – it truly is a gargantuan car, but that makes it incredibly roomy inside.
To be honest, neither of these two is going to win too many beauty contests, so it will probably be what goes on underneath and in the cabin that will be the deciding factor for buyers looking to choose between them. We think they’re both handsome, but you need to reach into the optional extras to make sure you get LED daytime running lights to add a bit of youthful exuberance. You might find our Skoda Octavia colour guide useful for see how that car looks in each available shade.
Interior and practicality
Both interiors are clean, spacious and well laid out, but there is a slightly more premium feel about the inside of the Superb. While the Octavia (above) is all dark plastics (unless you plump for beige trimmings), the Superb can be ordered with wood finishes that give it a more upmarket look that some will appreciate. The moment you sit in either car there’s no mistaking that they come from the VW stable, which certainly isn’t a bad thing. Doors shut with a familiar, Golf-like thud and there are soft-touch plastics on the dashboards of both cars.
Both cars offer the kind of legroom and headroom that will go down really well with adults. These cars are all about transporting you and your passengers around in a comfortable and practical environment and both perform exceptionally well in this respect. Jump in the back of the Superb (interior shown below, legroom shown below that) in particular and you’ll realise what great value the car is – it has better legroom than luxury saloons that cost more than double the price.
Despite its relatively modest price tag, the Octavia comes pretty well equipped, and even base models get DAB (digital) radio, alloys and electric front windows and door mirrors. The Superb gets even more goodies than the Octavia, which you would expect with its higher price tag.
The Superb saloon’s Twindoor boot is worth a mention. It’s a cute bit of kit with electrically lockable hinges between the boot lid and the rear window that makes this saloon operate as a hatchback as well as a saloon – you decide how much boot to open depending on which button you press as you lift the lid.
The Octavia rolls slightly in corners, but grips well. It has a slightly harsh ride over extreme bumps, however – but for the most part it’s comfortable and pleasant. Opt for the sporty Octavia vRS and it’s a different kettle of fish – it’s a fun sporty drive that belies its size.
The Superb is much more about comfort and luxury than it is about just being ‘acceptable.’ You’ll definitely find the Superb a quieter, smoother and more pleasing cruiser, which is what you would expect for the extra cost. If you want to have some inappropriate fun in the Superb, the 3.6-litre range-topping petrol variant with four-wheel drive is the way to go as long as you are not too concerned about economy. Skoda only sells a handful of those each year in the UK – and they probably go to the Czech embassy…
Both cars do what they do well as far as the on-road experience is concerned, but if you are going to be doing rocket-ship mileage you’ll find the Superb is certainly the winner.
While many would instantly go for the 1.6-litre diesel in the Octavia, expecting a good compromise of economy and performance, you really should take a good look at the 2.0-litre diesel options or even a petrol engine. The 1.6 diesel doesn’t really have too much going for it other than its frugality, but even that isn’t too impressive when you find yourself driving it as hard as you need to get any sort of performance out of it. It’s also quite noisy.
The Superb offers the option of four-wheel drive on all diesels apart from the base 1.6-litre, with only the range-topping 3.6-litre V6 petrol giving you that choice if you don’t want a diesel. The same message about avoiding the 1.6-litre diesel also applies for the Superb – the 138hp and 168hp 2.0-litre diesels are vastly superior in a car of this size.
Few manufacturers make better diesels than Volkswagen and the 2.0-litre versions in both the Superb and the Octavia perform well, if not exceptionally. It’s very much a case of getting what you pay for with both models, although the power and refinement of the bigger Superb engines coupled with optional four-wheel-drive and the DSG automatic gearbox is what most of us would choose if budgets would allow.
Value for money
When you look at these two together, you’d probably expect the bigger Superb to cost considerably more than the Octavia. However, while there is a difference, it probably isn’t as big as you would think. The Octavia range starts at £16,310 for the S 1.2-litre TSI petrol and goes up as far as £27,660 for the Laurin Klement 2.0-litre diesel with 148hp and an automatic gearbox. Meanwhile, the slightly more sumptuous Superb range begins with the 1.4-litre TSI petrol S 5dr Hatchback at £17,075 and tops-out at £32,590 for the estate version in Laurin Klement trim with the top 2.0-litre diesel engine and four-wheel-drive.
If you are looking at the top-end of either model’s line-up, you may well start to find your gaze drifting in the direction of a few more prestigious brands, such as Volkswagen or Audi. The real strength of both Skodas lies in their mid-range offerings that deliver great value for money and all-round competence.
As the Skoda Superb and the Skoda Octavia appear to grow ever-closer together in terms of both size, it actually makes deciding between the two easier. If you’re willing to spend an extra couple of thousand pounds for the Superb, and plan on spending lots of time on motorways, then the bigger car is for you.
The Octavia, however, offers incredible value in its low- and mid-range trims. If you’re a company car buyer then this is the car to go for, and the latest version of the Octavia is an impressive step up in interior quality over the previous version.
There’s little to separate the cars in terms of engine choice too, seeing as they share most of Volkswagen Group’s small petrols and bigger diesels. The Superb is notable for its slightly Jurassic 3.6-litre V6, but it’s an engine to avoid unless you fancy serious depreciation and big fuel bills. It does, however, sound fantastic! If you want an equally brisk Octavia, plump for the petrol or diesel vRS versions. They give serious hot-hatch pace in a car with ludicrous amounts of luggage space, which is an amusing and enjoyable concept.
If you fancy four-wheel drive you’re well catered for with either car – the Octavia Scout gives a lofty ride height and rugged trimmings, but the Superb is also available in similar Outdoor trim.
Perhaps the biggest thing going in the Octavia’s favour though is its looks. While it isn’t the best-looking car in its class, the Octavia’s lines win hands-down over the Superb’s relatively old-fashioned and boxy look that really does need a re-think. There’s an all-new Superb due in 2015, so for the time being we’d plump for the Octavia – unless you need incredible amounts of rear legroom as opposed to just class-leading.