Car Dealer’s Jack Evans drives the latest Skoda Octavia
What is it?
Sitting at the heart of the Skoda range, the Octavia is a big deal for the Czech brand. Essentially it represents everything Skoda is about – whether that’s excellent value-for-money, brilliant practicality or genuine solidity.
The latest Octavia is quite a change from the previous version. It’s sharper to look at, it’s wider, longer and taller than the car it replaces, and despite sharing the same length it’s more spacious than ever.
What’s under the bonnet?
Our test car came fitted with a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine, sending 148bhp and 340Nm of torque to the front wheels via a seven-speed DSG gearbox. And whereas those power outputs may sound relatively mundane, the Octavia’s economy figures are anything but; Skoda claims up to 60mpg combined with CO2 emissions of 123-141g/km depending on wheel size.
Performance-wise, you’re looking at 0-60mph in 8.5 seconds, while flat-out the Octavia will hit 137mph. Though a cheaper petrol option is available, we’re sure that given its low running costs this diesel choice will be a key consideration in the Octavia’s list of powertrains.
What’s it like to drive?
If buyers are looking for outright comfort then the Octavia should be at the top of the pile. The Octavia feels as though it has been designed with the UK’s roads in mind, given its exceptional ability to steam out the creases in the road ahead and leave you riding a comfortable and soft wave of forward motion.
Of course, a by-product of this soft ride is a limited ability to control body roll. Try and tackle a country road in slightly keener fashion and you’ll find the Octavia responds by leaning like a tacking sailboat in a gale. Would we sacrifice some of that ride quality for more body control? Absolutely not. The fact that the Octavia majors so heavily on ride comfort makes it a genuinely refreshing option in a wider car market which is dominated by firm-riding models.
How does it look?
The previous-generation Octavia was, in our eyes at least, one of the very best looking cars in its segment. This latest version certainly moves the game on, but it doesn’t look quite as svelte as the car it follows on from. Our car – an estate – has been styled in such a way that much of the car’s heft is disguised, so it manages to appear a little smaller out on the road than its proportions would lead you to believe.
What’s it like inside?
Skoda benefits from access to the wider Volkswagen Group’s technologies, which is why the latest Octavia’s interior is a far more screen-heavy affair than the previous Octavia’s. As a result, the cabin feels cleaner, sharper and less button-cluttered, with the main screen giving access to practically every function for the car.
When it comes to boot space, there’s 640 litres to play with – a helpful 30-litre bump on the outgoing car. This can, of course, be extended by folding the rear seats flat too. It’s a very practical option and outguns cars in even the class above when it comes to spaciousness.
What’s the spec like?
Our car came in First Edition specification, which meant that it was practically weighed down with equipment. Features included 17-inch alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, chrome roof rails and front heated seats. For now the range kicks off with the SE First Edition which gets LED headlights, 16-inch alloys and a Virtual Cockpit for the dials.
But what about that new infotainment screen? Since it controls crucial aspects of the car such as the heating and ventilation, it’s now a much-used part of the car’s cabin. Fortunately, it operates well and is easy to navigate through. The display itself is sharp and easy to read, and all of the various controls make sense.
What do the press say?
Autocar said: ‘The fourth-generation model also adds a smart new appearance, a renewed layer of perceived quality and greater refinement – all of which help to make the latest incarnation of the most popular Skoda a more attractive proposition than ever before.’
What do we think?
As a car for the rigours of the everyday, it’s fearlessly well-suited thanks to great practicality levels and a ride which turns even the most lumpen of roads into far more comfortable surfaces. It also looks good and feels good inside.
Model: Skoda Octavia Estate SE L First Edition
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel
Max speed: 137mph
Emissions: 123-141g/km CO2
Families and perhaps the odd cash-rich taxi driver
Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus, Kia Ceed
KEY SELLING POINTS
Impressive build quality
It’s pretty much all the car you’ll ever need