Skoda Octavia review
The Skoda Octavia offers great value for money and it's a great family car, too
Riding on a platform shared with the Volkswagen Golf, the Octavia offers a great range of standard equipment for the price as well as impressive driving dynamics and an advanced choice of engines. The roomy Octavia undercuts the premium Golf and still offers a road-tax exempt, sub 100g/km variant. A satisfied bunch of owners put the Octavia right up there as one of the best in class.
Our choice: Octavia 1.4 TSI SE
Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Skoda Octavia
Despite a mild update to the styling in 2009 – which included softer headlights – the Octavia is now beginning to look a little dated. Base models look cheap compared to the VW Golf, and do without alloy wheels or front fog lights. A conservative design doesn't help, but for some that won't matter - it is one of the most understated cars on the market. However, options aren't particualrly pricey, meaning more stylish additions can be added for minimal outlay.
The best engine choices for the Octavia are the TSI or TDI engines. Skoda does offer a 1.4-litre engine with 79bhp but it's best avoided unless you only really use your car around town. The 1.4 TSI on the other hand is much better and offers plenty of go - sprinting from 0-60mph in a respectable 9.7 seconds. The TDI engines, particularly the 2.0 TDI 140 are excellent too, offering refined motoring and an impressive turn of pace. The fact that it is based on the Volkswagen Golf means handling is predicatable and even under hard cornering you'll struggle to unsettle the Octavia's good chassis.
The Octavia anaged only a four-star rating for crash safety from Euro NCAP, which doesn't sound too bad but there are plenty of cars in this class that have achieved the full five stars - including the Volkswagen Golf MkV on which it is based. It still has four airbags to keep occupants safe though. Reliability hasn't been an issue and the Octavia placed an impressive 4th in our 2012 Driver Power survey - an admirable achievement for a manufacturer that was considered laughable less than two decades ago.
The Octavia has a wide hatchback opening, making loading and unloading incredibly easy. Boot space is 585 litres which is not only bigger than traditional hatchback rivals like the VW Golf but it's also larger than a Ford Mondeo or Vauxhall Insignia. If you go for a S or SE model it's worth specifying the optional folding rear seats, which increase the load area to a maximum 1,455 litres. This feature is standard on all higher trim levels. A durable cabin completes a great value, practical package.
The star of the line-up here is the Skoda Octavia Greenline which manages road-tax free emissions of 99g/km and combined fuel econsumption of 74.3mpg. Engines are taken from the VW Golf, with a range of surprisingly frugal petrol motors - the 1.2 TSI does a diesel rivalling 50mpg. But the 2.0-litre TDI engines are the best all-rounders - you'll get 59mpg and hit 60mph in less than 10 seconds. Desirability is still a sticking point for Skoda, meaning residual values could be better but list prices are low compared to rivals and there is a fixed-price servicing deal to relieve part of the sting.