Skoda Octavia review
The Skoda Octavia has stepped out of the shadows of the VW Golf – it’s spacious and cheap to run
Competition is tougher than ever in the small family car market, with the new Volkswagen Golf, Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and SEAT Leon challenging the best-selling Ford Focus. The Skoda Octavia has always fought hard with tonnes of space, value and great dealer service on its side – the old model was always a hit in our Driver Power satisfaction survey. The new Octavia is no different, although the price advantage isn’t as big as it used to be quality has also improved. There’s is far more boot space than in any other small hatch, while legroom is especially generous. Efficient engines ensure good fuel consumption with high mpg, although this isn’t an especially spirited car to drive – the Focus will still be the car to put a smile on your face. A more practical estate version will go on sale in May, while the high-performance vRS is expected in July and a new four-wheel-drive Octavia Scout will complete the line-up sometime in 2014.
Our choice: Octavia 1.2 TSI S
Although Skodas are becoming a little more stylish, the new Octavia hatchback is smart rather than sexy. Clean lines won’t offend anyone, but it lacks the compact look of a VW Golf and some of the finer detailing of the Audi A3 and even the Kia Cee’d. What detailing there is – the vertical strakes inside the headlights mimicking those of the grille – are a little too subtle, while the LED driving lights are as conservative in design as the rest of the car. The only real detail worthy of note is the ‘fin’ - a kick up in the rear window line not dissimilar to BMW’s famed Hofmeister kink. The interior is similarly smart, functional and clean and build quality is exceptional. There's a choice of three tim levels - S, SE and Elegance - but every model gets a decent level of kit that includes alloy wheels, DAB radio, touchscreen system and Bluetooth connectivity.
The Ford Focus doesn’t have anything to worry about. Neither does the VW Golf, come to that. The Octavia isn’t especially fun to drive and the ride feels a touch firmer than the Golf with which it shares many of its chassis bits. Generally the ride is comfortable and it’s not going to make the kids sick, while the car corners reasonably flat with little body roll. The engine line-up is typical VW Group fare with two petrols and two diesels, all with stop-start and other fuel saving tech. They are strong performers, but you will get a thrill over how little fuel they use – these are really impressively economical engines. The two diesel enignes are a little louder than they are in the equivalent Audi A3 or VW Golf though, while the turbocharged petrols worthy of consideration if the running costs stack up for you.
Skoda’s performance in our Driver Power satisfaction surveys proves that there shouldn’t be any concern over the new Octavia’s reliability. Owners rate everything from quality to ease of driving and especially the service they get from Skoda dealers. The new Octavia ups the safety score with a host of systems that do their best to prevent front to rear accidents, will make sure the driver’s not dosing off or straying out of lane. If an accident is about to happen, another system will prime the seatbelt tensioners and close the windows, while there are up to nine airbags plus anti lock brakes and anti skid protection.
Space is the Octavia’s trump card and the new Octavia is bigger than ever, with more rear legroom than you’ll find in rivals such as the VW Golf or Ford Focus and even getting close to cars like the Ford Mondeo and VW Passat. Compared with its predecessor, the new Skoda Octavia has grown in almost all dimensions, including the fact that it now sports a huge 590-litre boot – just 15 litres shy of the previous Octavia Estate’s luggage capacity. It’s not just about space, though – there are plenty of clever little touches inside: cup holders, rubbish bins, boot holders, a reversible boot floor and even an ice scraper hidden inside the fuel filler cap all add to the Octavia's sensible and practical appeal.
Stop-start is standard on every Skoda Octavia, while the 1.6 diesel Greenline eco model offers headline-grabbing emissions of just 89g/km plus 83.1mpg. Even the standard 1.6-litre diesel dips below the 100g/km mark, while the punchy 2.0-litre diesel gets close at just 109g/km – that makes the Octavia an appealing company car. Both are available with the VW Group's excellent DSG automatic gearbox as an option. The 1.2 and 1.4-litre petrols are also reasonably frugal, both topping 50mpg. Skoda dealers are a pleasing lot, too, helping Skoda to a history of top ratings in our Driver Power satisfaction surveys. Low servicing costs help, but the Octavia's overall running costs tend to be lower than many rival small cars and its generous equipment levels make it a good value family choice.