How I was surprised by a Skoda engine

Skoda-Octavia-1.2-TSIDammit, I had a double take surprise this week, due to an engine not being what I thought it was.

100 lines: must check test car spec sheets before I drive.

Mind you, in a way, I’m glad I didn’t. Then, I wouldn’t have thought the 1.4 TSI in the new Skoda Octavia I’ve got out on test to be so good. Only to find it was actually a 1.2 TSI.

I’d already been taken by its torquey in-town nature on a six-mile blat across town. Already enjoyed the low-rev torque and dieselesque power delivery, wondering if this ‘1.4’ would make a fine replacement to my 1.6 diesel Kia cee’d wagon. 50mpg flashing on the trip computer near the end near-convinced me, particularly as this comes with smooth-running sweetness and whoosh, not clatter.

I did notice it ‘felt’ reliant on the turbo, in a way diesels are not. Off-the-line go was a bit switch-like and you could sense the gaping hole in drive before the turbo (quickly) woke up. It was soon filled with, I later discovered, 129lb ft of torque spread from 1400-4000rpm. That’s remarkable. No wonder it felt like at least a 1.4.

But, no, 1.2 TSI 105 it is. So, this weekend, I’ll see if I continue to be surprised by an 1197cc engine in a car as vast as the Octavia estate… and work out an excuse to give the 1.4 TSI a spin too. 140hp and a remarkable 184lb ft between 1500-3500rpm? Now that really would be a surprise, I’m sure.

I also must recalibrate my petrol engine expectations, to reflect the wizardry coming to market. For the past decade, diesel has had the lion’s share of tech development and amazed drivers accordingly. Now, with one eye on Euro 6 emissions and world market preferences, it’s the mainstream petrol engine’s turn.

Motoring journalists like me who’ve mainly enjoyed the cream of diesels from the manufacturers’ press fleets may have some surprises in store as these superpetrols come to market.

The Skoda’s already done it in the First 5 Minute test. Now to find out how super it is in practice.

Have any engines caught you by surprise? And were they diesel or petrol? Share them below and let’s see what the trend is…