Twin Test: Large Hatchbacks

  • We pit the practical Octavia against the stylish Mazda 6
  • Costs, practicality and driving all considered
  • Find out which one comes out on top

If you really can’t live with an estate’s workhorse image, but still value the family practicality they afford then the answer lies with the humble hatchback. We try the capacious Skoda Octavia hatchback and stylish Mazda 6 hatchback to see which is best.

Skoda Octavia (2004-2012) vs Mazda 6 (2007-2012)

Driving

Based on the venerable VW Golf the Octavia engages keen drivers while still remaining absolutely safe and predictable. There’s a wide range of engines, from fuel-sipping diesels to the high-performance petrol in the vRS model. Add the excellent DSG automatic option and there’s plenty to please.

Renowned for producing cars that are sharp to drive the 6 is no exception; the positive gearshift and feelsome steering inspire confidence  at speed, while the range of petrol and diesel engines are all excellent. It's not quite as comfortable as the Skoda

Practicality

Despite its Golf platform the Octavia offers plenty of space in the rear, certainly more so than in its VW brother and for family use its ideal. And you’ll  wonder why you even considered an estate when you open the tailgate; with the seats in place there’s 560 litres to make use of, and with the rear bench folded over 1,300 litres.

The Mazda 6 offers masses of load space with it's rear seats folded down.

With  the seats in place the Mazda doesn’t manage to eclipse the Skoda, offering ‘only’ 510 litres. But drop the rear seats, which as you expect fold flat and split 60/40, and that increases to a scarcely believable 1,702 litres. Add to that a hard wearing and spacious cabin and it’s clear that the Mazda 6 is one of the most practical hatchbacks around.

Costs

With  a choice of engines it’s up to you how much money you want to spend on running an Octavia, but the 1.6-litre TDI in the Greenline II version emits only 114g/km and can return over 60mpg. And with plenty of VW specialists, with which this car shares much of its parts, servicing and parts are reasonably priced too.

Skoda offer the efficient, low emitting GreenLine engine.

You’ll pay a little more for the 6 over the comparative Octavia, but the Mazda has exclusivity  and reliability on its side. Having said that you’ll  potentially pay more for maintenance when you do need to fix anything. At least the excellent 2.2-litre diesel engine emits only 133g/km and returns just under 55mpg.

 

  Skoda Octavia Mazda 6

Engines:

Power:

0-62mph:

Economy:

Fuel Capacity:

CO2 Emissions:

Road tax:

Insurance groups:

Boot space:

Petrol and Diesel, 1.2 to 2.0 litres

75-197 bhp

7.0-15.0 seconds

36-64 mpg

55 litres

114-180 g/km

£30-265

6-30

560 litres

 Petrol and Diesel, 1.8 to 2.2 litres

118-177 bhp

8.0-11.3 seconds

35-54 mpg

64 litres

133-186 g/km

£130-265

19-26

510 litres

 

Verdict

Skoda Octavia - Winner

It’s a close-run thing, and if you buy either of these hatchbacks you’ll  be delighted with their practicality, quality, running costs and image. But it’s the Octavia that wins outright, thanks to the wide range of models and drivertrains on offer.

If this decision was based purely on ultimate load carrying capacity the 6 would walk away with this one, being able to swallow more than most large estates with the seats collapsed. However, good though it is it just can’t offer the same choice as the Skoda so comes a very close second here.