Despite Skoda now having a popular range of crossovers and SUVs, its best-selling model remains the Octavia.
This Czech model has established itself as a sublime family car known for its practicality, efficiency and affordability, and with its Volkswagen Group stablemates – the VW Golf, Seat Leon and Audi A3 – all receiving a new generation for 2020, it’s time the Octavia to join in, too.
It continues to be offered in both large hatchback and estate forms, and here we’re trying the latter. Large proportions make it even more practical than before, while the interior has been given a digital makeover – most versions coming with a large touchscreen and digital dials. Elsewhere there’s now even more standard kit, while new mild-hybrid powertrains make their debut as well.
It certainly looks to be even more appealing than before on paper, but does it all stack up?
Soon you’ll be able to select mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the Octavia (making it Skoda’s most electrified car yet), but for the time being it’s just conventional petrol and diesels to choose from.
In terms of petrol, there’s a 113bhp 1.0-litre or a 148bhp 1.5-litre, but when it comes to diesel there’s a new 114bhp 2.0-litre diesel unit alongside the engine fitted to our Octavia – a 148bhp 2.0-litre mated to a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission. It’s currently the only automatic version available.
This engine is a brilliant match for the car as it delivers a great mix of performance and efficiency. The sprint to 60mph comes along in 8.6 seconds and Skoda claims it would reach 136mph maxed out. But it’s brilliantly efficient – returning a claimed 60mpg, and with CO2 emissions as low as 122g/km. On a decent motorway run, you could expect to see even better fuel economy, too.
Ride and handling
While Seat takes a sportier approach with its Leon, the Octavia has always been the safe and sensible VW Group choice behind the wheel. It’s been set up for refinement and comfort and those are two areas where this Skoda absolutely excels – if you spend a lot of time behind the wheel, the Octavia is ideal.
It’s not the most dynamic of choices, with its light steering not doing anything to inspire fun, but that’s not what the regular Octavia is about. With a sportier vRS version on the way, this will offer more in the way of driver enjoyment.
The only tiny gripe is that the 2.0-litre diesel isn’t the most refined, and for optimal serenity, a petrol version could make more sense.Enquire on a new Skoda Octavia
Interior and equipment
While there was nothing wrong with the previous generation Octavia’s interior, Skoda has made plenty of changes for this new model. With an eight-inch touchscreen fitted as standard, along with digital dials, it certainly feels like you’ve set foot into a far more modern car than the previous Octavia. That said, with air-con controls nestled within the touchscreen system, it can prove a bit fiddly to use on the move.
However, the quality of the Octavia’s cabin is excellent, and it feels brilliantly put together and ideal for family duties. Speaking of using it as a family car, this latest Octavia continues to impress in this area, with a seriously vast cabin and huge boot that outclasses just about all of its rivals. Rear adults will have no trouble getting comfortable in the back, while the 640-litre boot is one of the largest of any estate car – in fact it’s only 20 litres smaller than the larger Skoda Superb Estate.
At launch, just three trim levels are offered – SE First Edition, SE L and SE L Launch Edition. Standard kit is generous and includes LED lighting, climate controls,, automatic lights and wipers, rear sensors and the aforementioned touchscreen and Virtual Cockpit system.
Make the step up to SE L and it adds heated front seats, a large 10-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation, keyless entry and start, and adaptive cruise control. Meanwhile our test car is the top-spec SE L First Edition grade – adding an electric driver’s seat, LED interior lighting and blind spot monitoring.
This step up in quality has been reflected in the price, though the Octavia remains a value-packed model. Prices start from £21,945 for the estate (roughly £1,000 more than the hatch) and for that you get plenty of standard equipment as well.
In fact we reckon the entry-level SE First Edition grade comes with all the standard equipment you need, and while the luxuries of higher spec versions are pleasing, you need to question whether it’s worth the extra money.
Our top-spec version with the most expensive engine pushed the price up significantly, though, costing a steep £29,540 – and that’s before options.
Skoda has managed to build on everything that was great about the Octavia in the first place with this new model. It’s now even more practical, well-equipped and impressively efficient, too.
With upgraded styling and a high-quality interior, it now feels every bit as good as a Volkswagen Golf in this class – only far more practical. While this top-spec diesel is a bit pricey, if you choose a lesser specification and engine, the Octavia will make even more sense. And with new derivatives and electrified variants on the way, this Skoda will remain just as complete as it’s always been.Enquire on a new Skoda Octavia