Duel of the family cars
These cars belong to the class of cars that manage to transcend eras. Always at the forefront of technology, the León and the Octavia adapt and evolve with the times. Two cars with identical chassis: ACL had the chance to compare these two family models.
Octavia for Škoda, León for Seat: the most popular models of these two brands. First produced in 1959, the Škoda Octavia has long been part of the automotive landscape. The first model to bear the name was produced until 1971. It was not until 1996 that a new version of the model appeared. With a profile that still inspires the new generations, this new version allowed the Octavia name to establish itself lastingly in motoring heritage, since it has never been out of production since then.
As for the León, it first saw the light of day in 1999. This compact saloon had its golden age, at least so far, with the second generation, which was produced from 2005 to 2012. In 2020, the León IV was launched, with a compact saloon version but also an estate car version called “Sportstourer”.
The models we had for the test were a Škoda Octavia Combi RS and a Seat León Cupra Sportstourer. Cupra has long been the sports branch of Seat, but it has now become a brand in its own right. The León is also the last model for which the two brands share the same name. We therefore put the sports versions of the two cars up against each other. Two family cars with similar dimensions, appreciated as much for their sportiness as for their practicality.
Seat León Cupra Sportstourer
Last summer we were able to test the latest Seat León compact. So the interior of the Cupra immediately brought back memories. As explained above, Cupra was the sports division of Seat. Meanwhile it has become a brand in its own right, so it’s quite natural that it should seem familiar. When all’s said and done the Cupra León is just a Seat León with a sportier look. This racing spirit can be seen in numerous details, for example on the steering wheel. There are two buttons, one start/stop for the engine, the other to select the driving mode; the latter, as well as looking sporty, allows the driver to stay focused on the road ahead without having to go through the multimedia interface where the mode selection is usually. The characteristic Cupra colour is also present, with copper touches on various accessories giving a little colour to this rather sober interior. When people choose an estate car version, it’s usually because they need to transport bulky objects. So the question of practicality and boot capacity is primordial. The Cupra Sportstourer’s boot is fairly basic, but well suited to a family that often travels with loads. If long planks of wood have to be taken home, the rear seats can be easily folded flat with a pull-lock. Without folding the seats, the volume is 470 liters, so plenty for most family vacations.
Škoda Octavia Combi RS
With the Škoda, it’s really practicality that predominates. When you open the boot you’re faced with an astonishing 640 litres of storage space. As well as its volume, Škoda offers a multitude of storage combinations; you’ll find a foldable boot net, which has become a classic feature of the Czech brand, and a little hanging overhead net for small light objects. On the sides are hooks for shopping bags that can be folded away when not in use. In this way the entire boot volume is kept available. The Škoda Octavia is ideal for weekend DIY enthusiasts. The designers have well understood this and have incorporated a magic button, still at the level of the boot: you just have to press it and the towbar deploys automatically, which will delight quite a few people. Having to lie on the ground and bend double to install it is a thing of the past!
These practical aspects are not limited to the boot: there’s also an ice scraper in the tank flap holder and there are front-door umbrella or hand brush storage compartments.
Once they’ve settled in on board the Octavia RS, passengers find themselves hugged by very sporty seats. The rear is also very spacious, with plenty of leg room. And there’s no shortage of equipment: a 230 V outlet, a smartphone box. Everything is designed for storing as many things as possible without compromising passenger comfort. There are even retractable sun blinds incorporated directly into the rear doors, and the adjustable headrests will delight big sleepers! The dashboard is also finished in Alcantara and imitation chrome using high quality materials. This reflects the rise of the Škoda brand. A few years ago it was the Volkswagen group’s cheapest brand. Slowly but surely as the models were reworked they attracted more and more buyers. And here’s the result today: a car that’s quite simply brilliant, comfortable, family-friendly, wild and sporty all at the same time.
The die is cast
The two Volkswagen group cars made available for the test were basically family cars with sports finishes. The only thing that really set them apart was their powertrain; rechargeable hybrid in the case of the Cupra – which by the way is the only version available of this model –, and a 245 hp petrol engine for the Octavia.
As for the comfort and equipment, both offer a good driver position with sports seats that hold you in well. As for equipment, from the practical point of view it must be said that the Škoda is hard to beat. Even so, we need to bear in mind that the use to which these cars are put may differ. The Cupra lends itself more to a family game of golf for example, while the Octavia is easier to hitch a trailer to in order to go and help relatives or to do some home renovation.
As far as the feel is concerned, we can say that they are two good family cars with good roadholding. There is perhaps just one slight criticism for each of the cars. The Škoda has a tendency to wheelspin when starting from stop. You really have to go easy on the accelerator to avoid squealing tyres. As for the Cupra, the fact that it’s carrying batteries makes it feel a little bit cumbersome, which slightly spoils the pleasure.
It’s always difficult to talk about design, since this is a very subjective criterion. Nonetheless we would highlight the style of the Cupra brand; the matte grey associated with the copper gives it a fierce look. Turning to the Škoda, we liked the front and rear bumpers, which have been refined compared with previous generations.
|Seat León Cupra Sportstourer
|Škoda Octavia Combi RS
|in 7 seconds
|in 6.7 seconds
|225 kph (140 mph)
|250 kph (155 mph)
|1.4 liters per 100 km (168 mgp)
|6.6 liters per 100 km (35.6 mpg)
|€ 42,415 €
Watch the test video (in French)
Source des images: Seat et Skoda