Weighty Civic fob (left) feels like it could withstand repeated drops; switchblade-type Octavia key (middle) looks dated, but its buttons are the nicest to press; card-shaped Megane device (right) is the least pocket-friendly, but has the most functions.
On paper, the only thing these three contenders have in common is that they are family saloons. But in actuality, each one is purpose-built to meet the priorities of three different types of family-car buyers.
The Renault Megane Sedan caters to family men seeking a runabout with a focus on style, comfort and technology. The Megane’s strengths are its cushy ride and cool cabin, which features mood lighting and an instrument cluster with variable layouts.
The Megane, however, doesn’t do as well in terms of space and performance. Its rear accommodation is the tightest here, and its dual-clutch gearbox isn’t as quick as the Skoda Octavia’s. But if you can overlook these shortcomings, the Megane Sedan will make you a happy family man.
Enthusiasts who became family men will have trouble turning a blind eye to the Honda Civic Turbo. The Civic’s unabashedly sporty interior and excellent driving position are as hard to ignore as its potent drivetrain, which enables it to deliver the zippiest performance of the bunch.
What buyers also cannot ignore, however, is that the Civic’s athleticism gives it a greater thirst for petrol. And at press time, the Civic’s list price of $123,999 also makes it significantly more expensive than its two rivals in this story. But if you can stretch your budget, this is one saloon you’d want to have.
If being able to stretch out in a practical and spacious car is your priority, the Skoda Octavia should be at the top of your list. During our drive, the fastback impresses us with its commodious boot, roomy backseat and user-friendly cockpit.
Less compelling, however, are the relatively rougher plastics used in the interior and the firmer than expected ride, which makes this Czech number less comfy on road trips.
Also, the 1-litre Octavia is the only car here that is penalised with a $10,000 VES surcharge. Without the penalty, the Skoda’s value proposition might have made it the most sensational saloon in this story.