In the shape of the Octavia and Superb, Skoda produces two of the most practical, sensible, and tempting family cars on sale today. The question is, if you have £18-20,000, should you get a top-spec Octavia or get an entry-level Superb?
We’ve put the two side-by-side to help you decide which car will suit your needs better. Don’t forget, you can put either the Skoda Octavia or the Skoda Superb in our car configurator to see how much carwow could help you save.
Skodas aren’t designed to be the most eye-catching cars on the road but there’s little to dislike about the way the Octavia looks. One might say it looks like a cut-price Audi but – with the exception of the sporty vRS – a pedestrian will have little cause to turn their head when one drives by.
The Superb has some obvious family ties to the Octavia, but modernises the aesthetic. Every styling crease seems to have been tightened, every detail refined, and it all adds up to a handsome and understated look. It’s a big car, too – 202mm longer than the Octavia – giving it real presence on the road.
The Octavia’s interior is unmatched within its segment, with class-leading rear legroom and a huge boot. The interior doesn’t quite boast Volkswagen levels of fit-and-finish, but everything looks tidy, all the major controls are well thought out, and it’s generally a pleasant place to while away a journey. Storage is excellent, with deep door pockets and an array of cubby holes.
Exactly the same is true of the Superb. As the bigger car, the Superb is the more spacious inside but, at this point, you’re just spoiling your rear seat passengers – very few will actually need this much room! The umbrella stored in the rear door is a very neat touch, and the Octavia’s huge 590-litre boot still can’t match the barn-like 625 litres the Superb provides.
The choice of engines is vast for both the Octavia and the Superb, whether you’re looking for a petrol or a diesel unit. Here, however, we’re focussing on the Superb’s entry-level petrol and diesels, and pitting them against the alternatives in the Octavia range most closely matched on price.
Petrol fans can take a 125hp 1.4-litre turbo in the Superb, while those travelling longer mileages might be more tempted by the 1.6 litre diesel. With 120hp, it gets you to where you’d like to go – if not very quickly – and with a claimed 68.9mpg, it won’t use much fuel doing so.
In the same £18,000 to £20,000 range, buyers will find more potent options in the Octavia. The petrol option is a more powerful version of the same 1.4 turbo with 150hp. It can propel the lighter Octavia to 62mph from rest in 8.1 seconds – a full 1.8 seconds faster than the Superb. A 2.0-litre diesel produces the same amount of power and its thumping 251lb ft of torque makes it feel much more flexible on the road.
When the Octavia and Superb are fitted with identical engines, the former weighs 120kg less so, even at a gentle cruise, the Octavia uses less energy to maintain a constant speed. As a result, it’s the more fuel-efficient car.
The Volkswagen group makes use of the versatile MQB platform which, with minor modifications, underpins cars as varied as the latest Volkswagen Golf to the Audi TT Roadster. Both the Octavia and Superb use it too, albeit with key differences between the two.
The Octavia makes use of a simpler suspension design at the rear because it makes it cheaper to produce (and its shape helps contribute towards the massive boot). It comes at the expense of body control, however, and can’t quite match the in the class. As a result, the ride can feel just a little bouncy.
Combined with the fancier rear suspension and a longer wheelbase, the Superb rides more smoothly and feels more stable. The Octavia is by no means an uncomfortable car, but the Superb is noticeably better.
The bigger car is more refined, too. Engine, wind and road noise are marginally better suppressed which, combined with the bigger interior, makes it the better long-distance cruiser.
Value for money
It seems that, in most ways, the cheaper Octavia represents better value for money. At a comparable price point, it’s possible to buy a more powerful (and more efficient) engine and pair it with a higher trim level.
SE versions of the Octavia get rear parking sensors, voice control for Bluetooth-connected mobile devices, and dual-zone climate control over the S version of the Superb but, otherwise, equipment levels are fairly closely matched. The Superb even comes equipped with an ice scraper stored neatly within the petrol flap.
Of course, if you value space and refinement, the Superb starts to look more tempting in the value stakes. Due to the fact that the engines we’re comparing here are less powerful than those in the Octavia, it also falls into lower insurance groups, too.
Picking a winner comes down to where your priorities lie. Even when hamstrung by smaller engines, the Superb is the more refined car, it’s more spacious, and it’s more pleasant to look at, both inside and out.
However, for the same price, you could have a much more potent, better-equipped Octavia. It’s worth bearing in mind that, if performance isn’t an issue, at least there’s the possibility of saving an extra couple of thousand pounds by choosing one of the smaller engines in the Octavia range.
If we put our most sensible hat on, we’d say that the Octavia just edges it. However, if you have the space to keep it, the Superb is a very hard car to overlook.
Put either the Skoda Octavia or the Skoda Superb in our car configurator to see how much carwow could help you save. For more options, head over to our deals page or, if you’re still struggling to pick your next car, check out our car chooser.