Which should you choose between the Volkswagen Passat and the Skoda Octavia? It can be a tricky decision to make, because both cars are comfortable, capable family haulers.
This guide will walk you through the key differences between these cars, and by the end you’ll know which is best for you. Keep in mind that, if you decide that the Volkswagen Passat is the car for you, then you’ll have to go used because it is no longer available new.
It’s hard to deny that the Passat’s long, sleek shape looks handsome, and it’s just as tidy close up. Details like the line that runs through the grille into the intricate headlights give the impression of a car priced much higher than it was when new. The crease that runs along the car’s flanks and door handles certainly adds to its handsome look.
Being a newer model, the Skoda is the more modern looking of the duo. It’s still fairly conservative, however the pointy headlights and wide grille give it a slightly more aggressive look. If you want a sportier vibe, you can get the Octavia as a hot vRS model, which gets you deeper front and rear bumpers and some side skirts.
The Volkswagen Passat certainly has a high quality interior with plenty of soft touch materials and shiny trims, however the design is starting to show its age. At least everything is logically laid out and easy to use, and you get plenty of interior space. Rear passengers will have loads of head and leg room, and the boot’s a decent size as well. The saloon boot opening does make it slightly harder to load, although an estate version is also available.
The Octavia also offers ample interior space, and the hatchback body shell only adds to the practicality. As for the design, it’s more interesting than the Passat’s cabin. The freestanding touchscreen and digital drivers display look good, however material quality isn’t quite up to the Passat’s standards. The touch-sensitive controls throughout aren’t as easy to use either.
While the Passat is never going to be the car of choice for thrill seekers, its handling balance is composed and confidence-inspiring. More than anything else, it receives strong praise from critics for the ride quality. Particularly on the smaller wheel sizes of entry-level models, it suppresses rough roads and large bumps with aplomb, while road and wind noise are impressively suppressed.
The Octavia rides fairly well too, if not with quite the same level of control as the Volkswagen. Very bumpy roads unsettle the rear of the car slightly, which translates into a marginally less comfy ride and a less controlled feel when cornering. If you go for the hot vRS model, it handles well on a twisty road and offers hot-hatch performance, whilst still being a great long distance cruiser.
Comparing models at equivalent prices starts to reveal some larger differences between the two cars. The most basic Passat is fitted with a 1.6-litre turbo diesel unit. The 120hp engine is smooth and refined and, when driven carefully, should return around 70mpg. You can also have a 2.0-litre diesel with 150hp and a 1.5-litre petrol with 150hp.
The entry-level Skoda Octavia gets a 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine with 110hp. This will return a claimed 55mpg, however it can feel underpowered on the motorway. Step up to the 1.5-litre turbo petrol and you get a healthy 150hp but you’ll also still get 53mpg. A 2.0-litre diesel is also available, as is a 1.4-litre petrol plug-in hybrid.
Value for money
For an entry-level model, the Passat’s kit list is fairly generous. In S spec, buyers are treated to 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system as standard.
Entry level Octavia models some with automatic wipers and lights, rear parking sensors and dual-zone climate control. Step up to SE L trim and you get keyless entry and start, adaptive cruise control and 17-inch alloy wheels.
It isn’t really possible to spec the Passat to the same level, but even adding sat nav – one of the more desirable options – adds at least £675 to the price list. You’d even have to fork out an extra £85 for carpet mats, which are standard in the Skoda.
As for price, the Volkswagen Passat is only available second-hand these days with prices starting from around £15,000 for a 2017 SE model with 15,000 miles on the clock, and rising as high as £27,000 for a 2021 R Line with 1,000 miles.
The Octavia is available new, with prices starting at £23,335 for the SE, rising to £27,475 for the SE L. If you want the hot vRS model, then that starts £33,630.
Safety and reliability
When the Volkswagen Passat was last tested by Euro NCAP in 2014, it scored the maximum five star safety rating. However, it hasn’t been tested under the new NCAP safety testing regulations. The Skoda Octavia has been tested under the new standards, and it was awarded five stars.
As for reliability, there are no horror stories to report with either of these cars. If you buy a used Passat which is under three years old, you’ll still have some of the three year warranty left. If you buy an approved used Passat from a VW dealer, you’ll also get a two-year warranty for added peace of mind.
All new Skoda models also get a three year warranty, with unlimited mileage for the first two years and 60,000 miles in the third year.
Picking a winner depends on where your priorities lie. The Passat has a better ride, is more refined, slightly roomier inside and offers levels of quality the Octavia can’t compete with. For many buyers, however, the smaller engine and the more limited standard equipment might just swing the decision in the Octavia’s favour.
Besides the more powerful engine and more comprehensive equipment list, the Octavia has plenty to be commended on. With the exception of the Passat, it’s one of the most practical and comfortable family cars on sale. You get more for your money with the Octavia but you get an overall more desirable car with the Passat.
Save money on the Volkswagen Passat and Skoda Octavia
Once you’ve decided which car is right for you, head over to carwow to get the best deals. You can find a quality used Volkswagen Passat for a great price, or get offers on a new Skoda Octavia.
It’s as easy as configuring your ideal model, sitting back and waiting for our trusted dealers to come back to you with their best offers.
You can also sell your car through carwow, and it’s just as easy. Upload a few pictures, answer a few questions and our trusted dealers will offer you the best price for your car, and even come and collect it at a time to suit you.