Based on the same MQB platform as the new VW Golf, Audi A3 and SEAT Leon, the third-generation Octavia is bigger and more efficient, but maintains the same value-for-money proposition that’s made Skoda such a hit. Prices are likely to start from around £16,000 when it goes on sale in March.
Compared to its predecessor, the car is 90mm longer, 45mm wider and the wheelbase has been stretched by 108mm, making the interior even more spacious than before.
Skoda claims no other car in this segment offers more rear knee and headroom, while the familiar saloon bodyshape with a hatchback tailgate allows a 590-litre boot – also top of the class. By comparison, the new VW Golf can muster only 380 litres with the seats in place.
Skoda’s design team likes to keep things simple, and the new Octavia’s clean-cut lines demonstrate this philosophy perfectly. Smaller headlights and a wider, lower grille add more aggression to the nose, while the longer wheelbase and shorter front and rear overhangs give a sportier profile. A pronounced flick at the rear of the window line – a ‘Hoffmeister kink’ – adds further character to the chiselled looks.
The interior continues the tidy and uncluttered design, with a much larger central touchscreen and higher-quality switchgear from the MQB parts bin. As with other cars in the family, Skoda has managed to strip the car’s kerbweight – by up to 102kg.
As a result, the engine range breaks new ground in terms of efficiency. Although the full line-up is yet to be revealed, the cleanest car will be the Greenline version of the 110bhp 1.6 TDI. This adds stop-start and brake energy recuperation, returning a superb 83.1mpg and producing only 89g/km of CO2 – identical figures to the forthcoming 104bhp Ford Focus ECOnetic. A 2.0 TDI engine will also be offered, in a variety of outputs.
A range of four TSI petrol turbos is planned, including a 1.2 TSI with 84bhp and 104bhp, a 120bhp 1.4 TSI and a 179bhp 1.8 TSI. Skoda also confirmed that four-wheel-drive models are in the pipeline, and a sporty RS trim level will be offered. A more powerful vRS variant is expected to join the range in 2014.
A broad line-up of safety kit, normally seen on more premium models, has been added. This includes auto braking, lane assist and fatigue detection. Skoda hasn’t skimped on the comfort and convenience systems either. In a first for Skoda, adaptive cruise control maintains a set distance to the car in front.
There are also intelligent headlights that switch automatically between high and low beam, an auto park function and a driving mode selector which lets you tailor certain vehicle parameters such as throttle response and gearshifts.