Skoda Octavia review
The Skoda Octavia offers tonnes of space, and a whole range of efficient engines
Competing in the small family car class, the Skoda Octavia has always had its work cut out, fending off rivals such as the new Volkwagen Golf, Audi A3, BMW 1 Series, SEAT Leon and the popular Ford Focus. But the Skoda Octavia has put up a good fight, capitalising on practicalities such as space and value, while offering great dealer service. The previous Skoda Octavia was continuously successful in our Driver Power satisfaction survey, and the new Skoda Octavia follows suit. Sure, the price advantage isn't as captivating as it once was, but quality has come on leaps and bounds. It's got more boot space than any other small hatch, and legroom has improved significantly, too. The Skoda Octavia 2013 engine range is highly efficient, offering great fuel consumption with high mpg - we'd opt for the 1.6 TDI, which manages 74.3mpg and returns 99g/km of CO2. After a review of the Skoda Octavia, one negative is that the drive isn't perhaps as exciting as the Volkswagen Golf or the ever-popular Ford Focus. An incredibly practical Skoda Octavia Estate launched in mid 2013, and consequently went on to win Auto Express' Best Estate Car of 2013 award - with an attractive price, spacious interior and stylish lines. There is also a high performance vRS model. The Skoda Octavia vRS matches the Golf GTI as far as performance goes, and undercuts the Volkswagen in terms of price, too. We've driven both petrol and diesel versions of the Skoda Octavia vRS, and both blend practicality and performance better than any rival. A Skoda Octavia 4x4 in the form of the Scout is due to complete the line-up sometime in 2014. Expect the Skoda Octavia Scout to have a raised height ride and larger dimensions targeting the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack and the Peugeot 508 RXH.
Our choice: Octavia 1.2 TSI S
Skodas have always emphasised function over form and the New Octavia hatchback follows the same formula – it is smart rather than sexy. But while its looks won’t set anyone alight with desire, its clean lines aren’t going to offend anyone either: it’s design is spartan but not ugly. It lacks the compact look that characterises a Volkswagen Golf and some of the finer detailing that marks out the likes of the Audi A3 – or even the Kia Cee’d. And what detailing there is – the vertical strakes inside the headlights that match those of the grille, for example – are a little too subtle. Even the design of the LED driving lights is conservative. 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 trim 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. There is also a high performance Skoda Octavia vRS model, which gets a boot lid spoiler, red strip across the rear bumper and a more muscular bodykit. It gets sports seats, aluminium pedals and a vRS steering wheel, too.
The Octavia’s driving experience mimics its looks – so don’t expect much flair. It’s certainly not going to give rivals like the Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf anything to worry about in this department. 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 components. It’s still comfortable, though – it’s not going to make the kids sick, and it corners reasonably flat, too, with very 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, and if the Octavia doesn’t thrill you with its driving experience, it will at least give you a thrill over how little fuel it uses – the engines really are impressively economical. The two diesel engines are a little louder than they are in the equivalent Audi A3 or VW Golf, though, while the turbocharged petrols are worthy of consideration if the running costs stack up for you. If you opt for the high performance Skoda Octavia vRS, which gets the same 2.0-litre turbocharged engine as the Golf GTi, you will be able to accelerate from 0-62mph in just 6.8 seconds and it handles well, too.
Skoda’s performance in our Driver Power satisfaction surveys proves that there shouldn’t be any major problems with the new Octavia’s reliability, or that of the Skoda Octavia estate and vRS version. 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, and make sure the driver isn't dozing 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. Euro NCAP awarded the Octavia a five-star safety rating in 2013.
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. Plus, there's a Skoda Octavia 4x4, referred to as Scout, which is on its way in 2014 - we expect this to have even more boot space, and a large cabin, too. But it’s not just about space; 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, and 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. In the high performance Skoda Octavia vRS you'll find the same 2.0-litre turbocharged engine as in the Golf GTI, producing the same 218bhp power figure. The diesel Skoda Octavia vRS still manages 61.4mpg, too, as well as 119g/km of CO2 emissions. Skoda dealers are a pleasing lot, too, helping Skoda to a history of top ratings in our Driver Power satisfaction surveys – the brand was ranked the second best in Britain in 2013, while the Octavia came sixth in our Top 100 cars. Low servicing costs also help keep bills down, 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.