Skoda Octavia: car review

Posted on June 7th, 2013 by James Luckhurst

A car that’s brilliantly practical, good to drive and inexpensive to run.

Skoda Octavia: car review

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What is it?
Skoda’s family hatchback, the Octavia. It’s a rival for the Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Volkswagen Golf.

How safe is it?
Every model comes with stability control and up to nine airbags. There are some clever high-tech safety aids which are available on the Octavia for the first time.

Who should buy one?
or brand snobs, but for the rest of us, the Skoda Octavia is exceptionally spacious, drives well and represents great value.

David Motton’s review: Good Motoring, Summer 2013

Skoda Octavia: car review
Under the skin the new Octavia is closely related to the Volkswagen Golf Mk7. Skoda couldn’t have asked for a better starting point from which to develop their new hatchback, as the Golf is superb to drive.

The Octavia doesn’t quite reach the same heights, but it really is very good indeed. Cornering is poised and balanced with plenty of grip. Well weighted and precise steering helps the driver place the car accurately, and firmly controlled suspension means there’s no wallowing over dips and crests. However, it’s not quite as supple as the Golf, thumping into really sharp bumps which the VW manages to smooth over.

It’s not as quiet as the Golf, either, with more wind and road noise at speed. That’s not to say that it’s a noisy car or that it will be tiring on long journeys, but the Golf has moved the benchmarks for cars of this size and price and the Octavia doesn’t quite match them.

There’s a choice of two petrol and two diesel engines. The range starts with a 1.2 TSI with 104bhp. We haven’t had the chance to drive this version of the Octavia, but having tried the 1.2 TSI in the Seat Leon, we know this engine packs a greater punch than you’d expect from its modest output. If you need more poke, try the lively 138bhp 1.4 TSI. It’s a great engine, pulling strongly in the mid-range but with the economy to make you think twice about buying a diesel.

We’ve driven both the diesel options, which will soon be joined by a super-economical Greenline model. The 104bhp 1.6 TDI is brisk enough but we preferred the 2.0 TDI. There’s a big step up in performance and the engine also sounds that bit quieter. For high-mileage drivers or anyone who needs to tow a caravan or trailer, this engine would be our pick.

The two diesels are available with the smooth-shifting DSG transmission if you’d rather leave the car to swap gears for you.

Skoda Octavia: car review
Even at the end of its life, the previous generation Skoda Octavia was the roomiest car in the small hatchback class. The new car is bigger still, so much so that you wonder if it’s fair to call it a ‘small’ hatchback at all. There’s more than enough room in the front seats, with a wide range of adjustment for the seat and wheel so it’s easy to get comfortable.

But rear-seat passengers are the ones who will really notice the difference compared with the Octavia’s rivals. Passengers of over six-foot can stretch out behind equally lanky drivers with room to spare. A Golf doesn’t even come close – it’s more like a Passat inside. Luggage space is also in a different league to most small hatches.

There’s 590 litres to fill, a massive 210 litres more than in the Golf. Fold the seat backs down and that extends to 1580 litres. With the seats lowered the load bay isn’t quite flat, but this is minor when you consider how much space the Octavia offers.

Skoda Octavia: car review
There’s some clever technology here. Skoda’s Automatic Post Collision Braking System applies the brakes after an impact to reduce the risk of further crashes. Front Assistant can slow the car if the driver fails to brake (it’s standard on Elegance models) while the Prefill System readies the brakes if the driver lifts off the accelerator sharply. Euro NCAP has awarded the car five stars for overall safety.

Skoda Octavia: car review
Even the entry-level models come with a respectable kit list – something you can’t say about Skoda’s other recent model, the Rapid. S-spec cars include alloy wheels, air conditioning, electric front windows and a digital radio. Step up to SE trim for upgrades including dual-zone climate control, electric rear windows and rear parking sensors. Top-spec Elegance models have Alcantara and leather trim, satellite navigation and cruise control.

Skoda Octavia: car review
You’ll pay less to buy the Octavia than most of its rivals. What’s more, you’ll pay less to run it, too. The entry level price of £15,990 undercuts the cheapest Golf five-door by £950. The diesels start from £18,040. The 1.2 TSI stretches a gallon for 57.7 miles according to official figures, while the 1.4 TSI achieves 53.3mpg. As for the diesels, the 1.6 TDI promises a remarkable 74.3mpg, while the 2.0 TDI manages 68.9mpg.

The new Octavia is brilliantly practical, good to drive and inexpensive to run.

Price: £20,140
Performance: 0-60mph in 8.2 seconds
Economy: 68.9mpg combined
Insurance: 19
Tax: Band B (£20 standard rate)
Figures for the 2.0 TDI CR 150PS