Skoda Octavia review

Our Rating: 
4
4.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Skoda Octavia is a subtle alternative to the Volkswagen Golf that offers more space and better value

For: 
Lots of space, fuel efficient engines, plenty of equipment
Against: 
Prices have risen, conservative design, unexciting to drive

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The Skoda Octavia is a great family hatchback, but given it’s based on the excellent Volkswagen Golf and SEAT Leon, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Compared to its family hatch rivals the Skoda Octavia has a big selling point in terms of practicality. It's one of the biggest cars in its class and comes close to the dimensions of the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat from the class above. Available as either an estate or hatchback, the Skoda Octavia has excellent legroom and boot space whichever model you choose.

While the Skoda Octavia still represents good value it's not great value like the old model. Prices have risen to almost £30k for a top-line Laurin and Klement spec model in line with the improving profile of the Skoda brand.

The Skoda Octavia engine range offers an expansive line-up of diesel and petrol units, which range from the 1.2-litre petrol - the smallest engine in the range - to the turbocharged 2.0-litre turbocharged found in the Skoda Octavia vRS. All engines blend performance, practicality and economy very well, although the GreenLine is by far the most economical returning an incredible 88.3mpg and 85g/km.  

There is also a Skoda Octavia Scout, which gets four-wheel drive, plastic body cladding and an increased ride height. This makes it a rival to the Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer and Volkswagen Passat Alltrack.

In terms of driving, the Skoda Octavia feels competent, but it isn’t as fun behind the wheel behind some of its rivals such as a Ford Focus or a Volkswagen Golf. The Skoda Octavia Estate won the Auto Express 'Best Estate Car of 2013' award as a result of its attractive price, spacious interior and understated looks. Skoda has also made the Octavia Estate even more desirable as it’s now available with four-wheel driv

Our choice: Octavia GreenLine

Styling

4

Since its launch in 1998, the Skoda Octavia has never been a 'flashy' car and has always gone for the low-key approach. That's not to say it's ugly, because it still looks neat and smart – it's just not likely to attract many second glances.

The Skoda Octavia is bigger than most of its rivals such as its two sister cars, the SEAT Leon and Volkswagen Golf and the ever-popular Ford Focus. This makes the Skoda Octavia great for boot space and passenger accommodation. Many of the Skoda Octavia's details are quite subtle – the vertical lines inside the headlights that match the grille, for example.

As it's a Volkswagen Group car, the Skoda Octavia has an interior that's superbly laid out, well screwed together and easy to use. Skoda offers the Octavia in six trim levels, which are all available in either a hatch or estate body style: the entry level S, mid-range SE and Elegance, the eco-friendly GreenLine, the high-spec Laurin and Klement plus the hot Skoda Octavia vRS.

Given Skoda's reputation for good value, standard equipment on the Octavia is excellent, with alloy wheels, DAB radio, a touchscreen system and Bluetooth connectivity all coming as standard on the entry-level S model.

The racy Skoda Octavia vRS adopts a sporty appearance, with a boot spoiler, bigger alloy wheels, a red strip across the rear bumper and a more aggressive bodykit. It’s also available in a bright range of colours. The interior of the Skoda Octavia vRS is also given some much needed flair thanks to sports seats, which are also available in black and white alcantara, aluminium dash-inlays, aluminium pedals and a sports steering wheel.

Driving

4.2

Behind the wheel, the conservative appearance of non-vRS Skoda Octavia models matches their handling. While it shares many components with the Volkswagen Golf and SEAT Leon, the Skoda Octavia is not as good to drive as either. It also can't match the Ford Focus for driving thrills.

The Skoda Octavia vRS gets the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine from the Volkswagen Golf GTI. It manages 0-62mph in just 6.8 seconds, it handles rather well and it will suit keen drivers who are also on the look out for practicality and economy.

While the Skoda Octavia may not be quite as much fun to drive as the Volkswagen Golf, but there's very little body roll. Less sound deadening means you hear bumps in the road more than the VW, but it's far from uncomfortable.

Skoda Octavia Estate front interior

The engine range on the Skoda Octavia yields plenty of choice. It’s comprised of four diesels and four petrols, all of which are available with Skoda's excellent automatic DSG gearbox.

With the exception of the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine in the Skoda Octavia vRS, none of the engines are particularly thrilling, but they are easy on the wallet, thanks to Skoda fitting stop-start tech across the Octavia as standard. There's even a handy 'eco tips' option that can help you save fuel by offering helpful driving advice while on the move.

If you're planning on chewing up the miles in your Skoda Octavia, then go for a diesel engine – they may be slightly more raucous than their equivalents in the Audi A3 or Volkswagen Golf, but the economy will be worth it. The turbocharged petrol engines in the Skoda Octavia are also worth considering if you're not doing many motorway miles, but it's the GreenLine model that's the pick of the bunch. Powered by a 109bhp 1.6 TDI engine it's not the quickest, but there's no precious little penalty in terms of cornering ability and refinement compared to less economical versions.

Reliability

4.9

In our 2014 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, Skoda claimed back top-spot after dropping to second in 2013.

The survey saw the Skoda Octavia take a tumble from sixth to 28th, with owners complaining about ride quality, seat comfort and dated technology. Still, running costs and build quality continue to please and the Skoda Octavia remains a solid choice for family buyers.

In 2013, the Skoda Octavia received a full five-star rating from Euro NCAP partly thanks to a new raft of safety systems, which include tech to prevent front and rear accidents and systems to ensure the driver doesn’t fall asleep at the wheel or stray out of their lane.

The safety features fitted to the Skoda Octavia can also prime the seatbelt tensioners and close the windows to prepare for an accident. There are up to nine airbags plus anti lock brakes and anti skid technology.

Practicality

5

The Skoda Octavia gets more space than a Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus. In fact, it can match larger cars such as the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat in the practicality stakes. It's a real selling point for the Octavia, and one that attracts a lot of potential buyers.

The current generation Skoda Octavia is much bigger than the previous model, with a huge 590-litre boot that expands to 1,580 litres with the rear seats folded flat.

Skoda has been sensible with the interior of the Octavia, and there are plenty of storage spaces and cubbies. Look hard enough and you’ll find cup holders, rubbish bins, boot holders, a reversible boot floor and even an ice scraper hidden inside the fuel filler cap – these little touches all add to the Skoda Octavia's sensible and practical appeal.

Running Costs

4.8

None of the engines in the Skoda Octavia range are particularly thirsty, but the 109bhp 1.6-litre diesel which is by far the most efficient, returning 74.3mpg and CO2 emissions of just 99g/km on the standard 1.6 TDI model and 88.3mpg and 85g/km on the GreenLine model thanks to an extra ratio in the manual six-speed gearbox and adding fuel-saving technology such as stop-start, low-rolling-resistance tyres and brake energy regeneration.

The Skoda Octavia's 2.0-litre diesel engine also returns good economy figures. Without the DSG gearbox, it returns 68.9mpg, and emits 106g/km of CO2, and with it fitted, it still does a respectable 62.8mpg with 119g/km of CO2.

The sporty Skoda Octavia vRS is also available with a diesel engine, which is far from a gas-guzzler. It does 61.4mpg and emits 119g/km of CO2. Even the petrol version of the Skoda Octavia vRS is impressive with 45.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 142g/km. With the DSG gearbox, the Octavia vRS' economy figures are still pretty good - 44.1mpg, and 149g/km.

The 1.8-litre petrol TSI engines are also quite punchy and return good numbers. With the DSG gearbox, it returns 39.8mpg, plus 131g/km of CO2. Without the DSG, it returns 46.3mpg, but CO2 emissions rise to 141g/km.

Overall, the Skoda Octavia is good value to buy thanks to a high level of standard equipment and low servicing costs - this means it's not an expensive car to keep on the road.

Disqus - noscript

There are no less than three references to this vehicle published at the same time by AE. Quite over the top and no wonder there is cynical laughter around!

Very good for taxing because I use one on the taxes

Dull looks? This is one of the better looking saloons (yes I know it's got 5 doors) I have seen recently. The front looks much better than the outgoing model and the rear is reminiscent of the previous pre-facelift Audi A6 (2003-2007) which was possibly one of the handsomest saloons ever made. Sober looks doesn't mean it is dull, not every car has to look like like a Nissan Juke.

Both the reliability and practicality scores just fail to hit a full 5 stars. Why? Given the mix of Golf/Focus pricing with Passat/Mondeo space and the safety and comfort kit provided for the money I can't see how you've found something to mark it down - especially as the accompanying text contains no negatives.

There ought to be products apart from this dull dog or Nissan Juke vulgarities.

Agree. For me, simple and clean design is a big plus, and - importantly - provides variety, with an option to choose more extravagant cars from other brands, if that's your choice.

Hyundai, Kia, Ford, GM...

Perhaps so.

I dont want to buy a car with start stop system! Thats not the best way to economy... I like vw and skoda but I want normal engine like before. Standard 1.4 tsi or 1.8 tsi are very good.

You can turn that off in cars computer options as user or predefine it to mods. Like you can turn it off for Sport mode but left it on for Eco mode. So dont be scared, you can turn it off :)

If I could change my car from the crappy Kia Sportage, this would undoubtedly be my first choice.

So much kit for the money, VW group build quality & componentry you can see why Skoda have it made,

Kia Sportage KX-4 anyone???

Why does the model that is reviewed here have a 5 speed manual instead of a 6?

It's a car; smart, in respect of appearance, is possible, "sexy" is not, and using the adjective to describe a car is evidence of, at best, a poor vocabulary and extremely poor eyesight.

Too bad you have to buy an audi (or a new seat or... A renault !) to have the multimedia screen implemented at the right height in the dashboard...

Looked in a mirror lately?

Because it's a lower end model, 1.6 TDi in either S or SE trim.

That's the only Mk3 Octavia that currently has a 5 speed manual box, otherwise it's a 6 speed manual, 6 or 7* speed DSG.

* Not vRS.

You can always manually deactivate it you know!

Mine is a 2 litre diesel with 60 miles on the clock and it's already saying it needs to do a full DPF regen. Ridiculous.

This review has returned from hyperspace a full twelve months after it originally appeared! When it first appeared there were no fewer than three current reviews of the same model on this site. Curious indeed.

Compared to VW and SEAT, Skoda make the better value cars and the smartest buy. The Skodas are the best VW group cars in this class and some of the best you can buy.

That's not a hatchback, as the author claimed, even if Skoda uses that demeaning term in the UK, but a lift-back, which is quite a different thing.

Lets be honest. More taxi drivers will buy one of these than familes. This obviously is one of the biggest compliments you can make, economy driving, reliability with looks being of secondary importance. In my area I estimate 7 out of 10 taxis, are the Skoda Octavia.

Oh dear. Someone has a different opinion than you.

I like it! Really good car.

Last updated: 19 May, 2014
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