It has adopted the latest Skoda family grille, with a single chrome bar along its top edge
The Skoda Octavia has grown considerably, now sitting between traditional rivals like the Hyundai i30 and Renault Megane and bigger models including the Volkswagen Passat, Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia. Its jump up in size has also made way for the smaller Skoda Rapid to slot in between it and the Fabia hatchback. It’s 90mm longer and 45mm wider than before and looks more elegant and better balanced as a result. It has adopted the latest Skoda family grille, with a single chrome bar along its top edge, and has a single sweeping lower grille. Its design follows Skoda’s latest ethos of creating attractive and tough-looking cars through the use of simple, clean and strong body lines and surfaces.
If you are used to the old Octavia, the new model immediately feels more spacious inside, especially thanks to its extra shoulder width. It’s a good place to sit, too, with supportive seats, expensive materials and attractive dials, as well as a touch-screen mounted in the central console. This is a clear step up from the smaller Rapid, which feels decidedly less luxurious than the upmarket Octavia. In fact, quality levels are generally on a par with the latest Golf, and ahead of rivals including the Hyundai i30 and Renault Megane.
The boot measures 590 litres to the rear seat backs
While the Octavia has the appearance of a saloon car, it benefits from a hatchback boot, providing a large opening to a huge luggage area. It measures 590 litres to the rear seat – way more than the 378 in the Hyundai i30 and 372 litres in the Renault Megane. Front headroom has increased by 8mm, while front elbow room has shot up by 39mm. There are some thoughtful touches too, like an ice scraper which sits hidden in the fuel filler door, a double-sided boot cover (rubber on one side, carpet on the other), door litter bin, holders and hooks dotted around the cabin and also an anti-misfuel system, to stop you putting diesel in a petrol car and vice versa.
Ride and handling
The 150bhp diesel Octavia has advanced multi-link rear suspension, while the rest of the range makes do with a simpler torsion beam setup. We found the models with the smaller engines drove best, with a softer ride better soaking up bumps. Grip levels are high across the board, with the Octavia feeling well balanced and safe when it eventually approaches its limits. The 150bhp diesel is surprisingly firm when fitted with 18-inch alloy wheels, thumping through severe bumps. In vehicles fitted with a driving mode button, ‘Sport’ firms up the steering, which is precise and well weighted.
There’s a wide range of engines, all of which are turbocharged. A 1.2-litre TSI petrol and 1.6-litre TDI diesel kick off proceedings, both with 105bhp. The diesel is fitted with a five-speed manual gearbox as standard (while the petrol gets a six-speed ‘box), and both can be specified with an optional seven-speed DSG automatic transmission. If you fancy a car with more power, there’s a 1.4-litre TSI petrol with 140bhp or a 2.0-litre TDI with 150bhp. Don’t be put off by the small size of the 1.2-litre, it’s surprisingly strong and feels quicker than the quiet and smooth 1.6. The bigger engines feel more grown-up, but the extra power doesn’t feel necessary too often and the 2.0-litre diesel is less refined than the 1.6.
The Greenline version achieves an astonishing 83mpg while emitting 89g/km of CO2. The standard 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesel models achieve 74.3mpg/99g/km and 68.2mpg/106g/km respectively. Choose a petrol and you’ll get between 53.3 and 57.7mpg and 114-121g/km of CO2.
Skoda has built an excellent reputation with its customers, topping many annual satisfaction surveys. The latest Octavia is unlikely to upset this trend, feeling well-built and trustworthy. It shares technology destined for the Volkswagen Golf, SEAT Leon and Audi A3, so everything has been thoroughly and expensively developed.
The Octavia scored a maximum five-star rating from Euro NCAP after crash tests, and it was particularly impressive in the pedestrian impact test, thanks to its ‘active’ bonnet. This lifts the bonnet in the event of a collision to give greater clearance between it and the hard components underneath. The Octavia received further Advanced Rewards for some of its extra safety features. Multi-Collision Brake puts on the brakes automatically if a collision is detected, reducing the risk of a secondary impact; Front Assistant will brake the car if an imminent collision is detected with an object in front of the car; and the City Emergency Braking Function observes obstacles which could enter the car’s path between speeds of 3mph to 18mph. Driver Activity Assistant monitors the actions of the driver to alert them to possible signs of fatigue or lapse in concentration. Crew Protection Assistant will pretension the front seatbelts and close the side windows and sunroof if an impending accident is detected. There’s also Lane Assist, and between seven and nine airbags depending on trim level.
Elegance benefits from 17-inch alloys, leather and alcantara upholstery, cruise control and sat-nav
Trim levels will be S, SE and Elegance, with the S proving a compelling package. It includes 16-inch alloys, DAB digital radio, eight-speaker stereo, CD autochanger, Bluetooth, daytime running lights, hill hold, leather steering wheel, air-con, stop and start and parking sensors. SE trim adds acoustic parking sensors, body-colour exterior trim, driver alert system, driving mode selection, dual-zone air-con, front fog lights, tyre pressure monitoring and rear electric windows. Elegance benefits from 17-inch alloys, leather and Alcantara upholstery, cruise control, sat-nav, colour trip computer, front armrest with storage cubby, auto main beam headlights, cargo nets,
The Octavia is right at the heart of Skoda’s range, and represents the manufacturer’s values perfectly. It is amongst the best value and most practical cars in its class. Happily, you also don’t have to buy a range-topper to enjoy it as the entry-level 1.2-litre S model is one of the highlights of the line-up.