2021 Skoda Octavia - First impressions in Singapore

Derryn Wong

Our first go at the new Skoda Octavia liftback ‘sedan’ in Singapore – has Skoda raised the game to go with a bigger S$130k with COE price tag?

Photos by The CarBuyer Team

These First Impressions are from a short stint behind the wheel, so are less comprehensive than a full test drive/review. To get up to speed on the launch of the fourth-generation Skoda Octavia Combi in Singapore read our local launch story with pricing, spec details and more

SINGAPORE – This is likely to be the most popular version of the new fourth-gen Octavia. As you’ve read in our news story, the Octavia is Skoda’s mainstream family car offering and is sold here as a liftback (i.e. sedan-looking hatchback) and as a station wagon Combi. 

For Ju-Len’s impressions of the wagon with the top-spec trim, read here. But most of the Singapore audience will be interested in this car, the liftback, which we drove for a few hours in the upper-spec Style trim. 

Perhaps the best thing you first notice about the car is that it looks like a Skoda Octavia immediately – something that’s not always been true for the brand, nor its models. But as we saw with the Skoda Kamiq and Scala, it’s quickly evolving into much more than a ‘budget German’ offshoot. It’s a handsome car, balanced in execution, and with confident details- like the new Skoda brand name spelt out on the rear, or the sporty, slit fog-lights. .

Skoda’s in-cabin game has been raised significantly – there’s less obvious cost cutting, more premium-feeling material (such as a denim-like trim panel) and of course, two large screens in the cockpit.

As the upper-spec Style version, the car gets the bigger 10.0-inch touchscreen, though a digital instrument panel is now standard across the entire range. The row of physical shortcut buttons, the volume slider dial that’s very large and actually works well is a testament to Skoda’s pursuit of dash rather than flash. 

The driving experience is familiar, but that’s not a bad thing, since it reminds us very much of the Volkswagen Golf Mark 8 – not surprising since it has the same platform roots, and the same drivetrain. 150hp and mild-hybrid assist mean perky acceleration and its refinement also means you’ll often go faster than you think you are. Our very off-the-cuff fuel efficiency was better than 5.0L/100km with ease, so we expect good numbers from day-to-day driving in our full review to follow. 

The rear seats are very decent, and match cars like the Toyota Corolla Altis, although they’re not quite as spacious as the Honda Civic’s. And when it comes down to it, the liftback style is more practical than a sedan, really. The boot is huge and class-leading: 600-litres, and with a broad, wide loading space. You’ll never want to fumble with a ‘proper’ boot after this. 

From the first look, it looks as if the Octavia is showing Skoda is raising its game consistently. It’s not tantalisingly sub-S$120k-cheap (thank COEs for that), and for now there’s no Cat A model. That would have spelt doom for a Skoda in the past, but given the quality on show here, things have changed.


About the Author

Derryn Wong

CarBuyer's chief editor brings 15 years of experience in automotive journalism, previously being the editor of Top Gear Singapore, a presenter for CNA, contributed to The Business Times, Today, and many other publications, and also covered technology as editor of Stuff magazine. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he is the Chief Slave of two cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong

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