New Skoda Octavia

12 Dec, 2012 1:15pm Luke Madden

We get behind the wheel of a prototype version of the bigger, more luxurious, new Skoda Octavia


We'll get to drive the Octavia in full production-spec during the middle of January but this early prototype reveals a car that's very difficult to dismiss. The Octavia not only has the space you'd associate with a car in the class above but now it's got quality and the technology, too. The price-tag – although a fair chunk more than the outgoing car – still undercuts the usual Golf and Focus models and it's set to be around £2,000 than the slightly less practical Mondeo. We may have some minor criticisms of the steering and the ride but these may turn out to be fixed when we get behind the wheel again early in 2013.

The new Skoda Octavia is based on the same platform as the new SEAT Leon and VW Golf but while they each have their bespoke selling points - flair and luxury, respectively - the Octavia majors on space. There’s more to it than that, though, as we found out during a prototype drive ahead of the car’s launch in March 2013.

These early models wear a slight disguise but official pictures, released by Skoda, reveal a design that’s sharp but sensible. Narrow headlights, creased bodywork and Rapid-inspired lines form part of a design that you’ll see on all upcoming Skoda models.

But back to the Octavia’s big selling point. No other car in this segment offers more rear legroom, headroom or boot space. The boot in particular is impressive: with the seats up it measures in at 590 litres (enough for four sets of golf clubs) and with the seats down there’s 1580 litres of space.

The big increases are down to a big boost in the Octavia’s dimensions. It’s grown by 90mm in length, 45mm in width and the wheelbase has been stretched by 108mm. Being sat in the back seats now is a much more luxurious experience and the amount of space is comparable to big saloons like the Ford Mondeo.

Sitting in the front also feels a lot more upmarket, with a better level of quality and a little more flair in the dashboard design - it’s a feeling of luxury that was missing in the old Octavia.

The driving experience is much improved, too. We tried the 2.0 TDI model with 148bhp, linked up to a seven-speed DSG gearbox. At idle and on the move this diesel is one of the smoothest and quietest we’ve tested, putting the efforts of much more premium models to shame.

It feels quick out on the road, with punchy in-gear acceleration and a 0-62mph time that's expected to be around the 8.5-second mark. Fuel economy with the DSG box will be just more than 60mpg, while with the six-speed manual it’s nearer to 70mpg. A Greenline model, powered by a 108bhp 1.6 TDI engine should manage 83.1mpg and 89g/km.

Snowy roads and temperatures well in to the minus numbers don’t make for the best conditions to test handling, but the usual Skoda feeling of solidity and surefootedness dominate the driving experience. The steering felt a little dead just off centre while on the motorway but that could be down to the fact that this car is still a prototype.

The ride was a slight concern, too, with ridges and small bumps making their way in to the cabin more than they would in a Golf or Focus. However, on flowing ups and downs the suspension performs far better.

It’s still too early to pin down an exact price for the Octavia but Skoda is predicting it’ll start from under £16,000. That’s a fair bit more than the current car but customers will get more equipment as standard, like ESP, electric windows and a touchscreen media system.

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Hardly the 'new octavia'.. it's just the current one ever so slighty updated.

Totally different platform...

I think he was referring to the appearance.

God, it's dull.

Doesn't anyone read the report? This is not a production version and it's in some disguise.

In any case would anyone really have expected a brand such as Skoda to push the boat out in terms of design? It's not what they do, nor what their target audience are after - they want smart, practical, value for money products. Sorry if that disappoints but when anyone comments they really should think a little bit first about what they are commenting on.

Skoda hit the spot frequently these days - it's the other brands in the Group who should be held up to criticism.
SEAT fail in not pushing the design language when they should be the most innovative, VW fail a lot of the time because the cars are mostly too safe for such a brand (and they really are VERY boring), and Audi are starting to become a little too passe.

If you want flair then start poking your heads inside a Citroen showroom, or even dare I say it a Volvo showroom. Let's also hope that Alfa produce a worthy successor to the 159.

As far as this Octavia is concerned then the likes of Toyota, Vauxhall, Peugeot, and even VW themselves, really do need to be concerned.

Why would you have expected a brand such as Skoda to push the boundaries in terms of design?

Yeah true - anyone buying a skoda is not bothered about image or style - just a fairly cheap car that does what it says on the tin.

This notch back is a hotch potch

If you look at it straight upfront and look past the Skoda badge it resembles an old A4. It's probably the headlights. Not sure.
The crease on the bonnet is Skoda's own and so is the rear end - probably inspired by Superb.

The steering is lifted straight from Seat.

The switch gear is unmistakably Golf.

I like the side profile. It resembles Mazda 6.

This car borrows so much from so many cars. It's got to succeed. I read somewhere that Skoda expects this to join the 10 best selling cars. Good luck.

I care about the image, and that is why I choose a Skoda - it has a great image nowadays, it's unpretentious and confident, and the new Octavia is a stunning looker, better than the new Golf, and not trout-pouted like the Focus/Mondeo ranges. £16,000 upwards is hardly cheap , but it is good value. Skoda concentrate on value, rather than being a budget brand nowadays anyway. Dacia and Chevrolet are the budget brands..

It's disguised to look like the current one - go look at the new octavia launch pictures! It looks nothing like the current model. Jeez, are people that stupid!

No, just no, Skoda has improved massively from the image it had 10 years ago but it does not have a great image. I don't think it ever will do.

Skoda 10 years ago had a poor "image" it did not deserve. Now I wonder whether it is not in danger of having a better one than it warrants. Recent offerings have been dull in the extreme and, from the point of view of a passenger in the ubiquitous minicab, not particularly impressive. They need to be at least as cheap to buy and as durable as the Korean opposition coming up on the rails. Some of the latter are even built in Skoda's part of the world!
Anyway. let's forget about "image" and "badge" and concentrate on "reality". This would give members of various motoring "fanclubs" something to think about

I really want to know what you drive, please inform me. You slate everything VAG associated.

No I don't. Yeti and Scirocco are fine as far as I am concerned, because they are not dull in appearance. The Seat Ibiza is a decent looking car although in profile very similar to the A.1, which ought to hack off owners of the latter no end, considering how much extra they pay!

I love listening to the Skoda haters! if you want to waste money on a less practical, less well built and more expensive 'more premium brand' such as Ford lol and Vauxhall lol then crack on..... Skoda have been right up there with the big boys for ten yrs now. My 2011 Octavia VRS tdi gets all the right looks and comments and for a similar spec Audi or BMW I would have to spend an additional 10k!!!!

So let me get this straight, the Octavia MK2 which often got 5 stars is much improved in MK3 form, drives better, handles better and is nicer inside and out - I see now why it only gets 4 stars...

still forgot to mention what car you drive?!?!

A Proton of course! Or a Perodua. What I drive has no relevance to the subject in hand, which is the Skoda Octavia and what IMHO is its dull or (as someone put it elsewhere) staid appearance. The Austin Cambridge of our times.
I cannot say how it will drive anymore than its fanboys can at the moment. The motoring press seem divided but it is always wise to be a bit cautious about their views.
(By the way I have never ridden in a Proton or a Perodua let alone driven one, so peace to the fanboys of those particular marques)!

He has a Citroen DS3....

But it's only the narrow-minded idiots that still have a problem with the name, not realising that Skoda is one of the oldest car makers in the world, has won the IRC 3 times running in the past 3 years, and has been under the VW wing since Dec 1990.It's the british that have the problem as some are still badge snobs, and most of the time drive around in inferior cars like Fords, Vauxhalls, Fiats, Peugeots, Citroens, Seats etc etc etc. As a long-time Skoda owner, I wouldn't want to own anything else.

Key specs

  • Price: From sub-£16,000
  • Engine: 2.0-litre turbodiesel
  • Power: 148bhp
  • Transmission: Seven-speed DSG, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 8.6 sec (est)
  • Top speed: 130mph (est)
  • Fuel economy: 62mpg (est)
  • CO2: 119g/km (est)
  • Equipment: Touchscreen, electric windows, Bluetooth, air-con