Skoda Octavia review

Our Rating: 
5
5.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Skoda Octavia offers tonnes of space, and a whole range of efficient engines

For: 
Lots of space, fuel efficient engines, plenty of equipment
Against: 
Prices have risen, conservative design, unexciting to drive

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The Skoda Octavia is a family hatchback, and that means it's got some very tough competition - it rivals the Volkswagen Golf, SEAT Leon and Ford Focus but also premium brand alternatives like the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series. The Octavia does have a big selling point, however - it's one of the biggest and most practical cars in the class.

Legroom and boot space is excellent in the Octavia, and that means it's great value as well - it's a bit more expensive than the previous model, but it's also bigger and has more equipment than ever. The Octavia is a consistent high performer in the Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, too - so it's clearly a great car to live with.

The Skoda Octavia engine range is excellent, with a wide choice of petrols and diesels, all of which are efficient and offer low running costs. We'd go for the 1.6 TDI diesel, which manages 74.3mpg and returns 99g/km of CO2, making it free to tax.

The Octavia is a competent car on the road but it is nowhere near as fun to drive as the Ford Focus and the Volkswagen Golf that shares the Octavia’s chassis beats it in this department as well.

Auto Express' Best Estate Car of 2013 award was given to the superb Skoda Octavia Estate, as it's the most practical car in the Octavia range with an attractive price, spacious interior and stylish lines.

Performance fans can go for the Skoda Octavia vRS, which matches the Golf GTI for performance while also being slightly cheaper. There are petrol and diesel versions available, and both blend performance, practicality and economy very well. In fact, the vRS is up there with the Golf as being one of the most practical hot hatchbacks around.

A new version of the Skoda Octavia Scout, a 4x4 that offers raised ride height, is also likely to be revealed in 2014 - rivalling the VW Passat Alltrack. We’re also expecting a new Octavia Coupe concept that will add stylish looks into the range.

Our choice: Octavia 1.2 TSI S

Styling

4

The Skoda Octavia has never been one to go for style over substance, and this new model is the same. It looks neat and smart, without ever sacrificing what makes it a great car: practicality. It's certainly not an ugly car but it's not likely to attract many second glances either.

The Octavia is a larger car than most of its direct rivals. that's great for boot space but the Skoda doesn't have the sporty looks to match the Audi A3 or Kia Cee'd. Many of the details are a bit too subtle - the vertical lines inside the headlights that match the grille, for example. There is, however, a kick up in the rear window line similar to BMW’s trademark Hofmeister kink, which gives the lines of the car a bit more drama.

The interior is really well laid out, well built and easy to use. - it is a VW Group car, after all. There are three specifications to choose from: S, SE and Elegance. Standard equipment is excellent, however, with alloy wheels, DAB radio, a touchscreen system and Bluetooth connectivity all coming on the entry-level car.

The hot Skoda Octavia vRS has a sportier appearance, with a boot spoiler, red strip across the rear bumper and a more aggressive bodykit. Sports seats, aluminium pedals and a sportier steering wheel brighten up the interior too.

Driving

4.2

The Octavia's looks aren't the only area where the car takes a pragmatic approach - it's certainly not going to give great-handling rivals like the Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf much competition for driving enjoyment.

Although the Skoda shares many chassis components with the Golf, it's not as good to drive and the ride actually feels a bit firmer, too. There's very little body roll, however, and the ride certainly isn't uncomfortable, so passengers won't complain (and the kids won't get sick).

The engine range is comprised of two petrols and two diesels, all of which are economical and decently powerful. While none of the standard car's engines are particularly thrilling, they will save you quite a bit of money, thanks to stop-start and other efficiency-improving tech as standard. There's even a handy 'eco tips' option that can help save fuel by offering helpful driving advice while on the move.

Go for a diesel engine if you are planning to do a lot of miles - the economy will be worth it, even if these engines are louder than their equivalents in the Audi A3 or VW Golf. The turbocharged petrols are worthy of consideration if you're not planning to do a lot of motorway miles. An excellent DSG automatic gearbox is also available as an option.

The hot Skoda Octavia vRS gets the same 2.0-litre turbocharged engine as the Golf GTI, so it goes from 0-62mph in just 6.8 seconds. The vRS handles rather well, too, and will suit keen drivers who need practicality and economy - especially the diesel version.

Reliability

4.9

Skoda came in at second place in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey's manufacturer poll, down from a first place finish the previous year. The previous-gen Octavia still ranks incredibly well in the poll, coming in at number six. Build quality, ease of driving and good dealer service were all ranked highly by owners and this new model looks set to do just as well in the next survey.

The Skoda Octavia received the full five stars from Euro NCAP in 2013, partly thanks to a handful of new safety systems. These systems aim to prevent front to rear accidents, and make sure the driver isn't dozing off or straying out of lane. The car can also prime the seatbelt tensioners and close the windows to prepare for an accident. There are up to nine airbags plus anti lock brakes and anti skid technology.

Practicality

5

There's more space in the Skoda Octavia than rivals such as the VW Golf or Ford Focus - so much so that the car even manages to rival models in the class above like the Ford Mondeo and VW Passat. It's a real selling point for the Octavia, and one that will attract a lot of potential buyers.

It's much bigger than the previous model, with a huge 590-litre boot that expands to 1,580 litres with the rear seats folded flat. Plus, there's a Skoda Octavia 4x4, referred to as Scout, which is on its way in 2014.

There are plenty of storage spaces and cubbies inside the Octavia with cup holders, rubbish bins, boot holders, a reversible boot floor and even an ice scraper hidden inside the fuel filler cap - these all add to the Octavia's sensible and practical appeal.

Running Costs

4.8

The most economical model is the Skoda Octavia GreenLine eco, which features a 1.6 diesel that offers headline-grabbing emissions of just 89g/km plus 83.1mpg. All models are excellent when it comes to economy, with stop-start coming as standard. Even the 1.6-litre diesel emits less than 100g/km of CO2, while the punchy 2.0-litre diesel emits just 109g/km – making the Octavia an appealing company car.

Both of the petrol engines, 1.2 and 1.4 litres in size, get over 50mpg - we'd go for one of these if you don't drive many miles. If you need performance mixed with running costs, the diesel Skoda Octavia vRS is decently fast and still manages 61.4mpg, and 119g/km CO2.

The car is great value to buy as thanks to a high level of standard equipment and low servicing costs will mean it's not expensive to keep the car on the road.

Disqus - noscript

There are no less than three references to this vehicle published at the same time by AE. Quite over the top and no wonder there is cynical laughter around!

Very good for taxing because I use one on the taxes

Dull looks? This is one of the better looking saloons (yes I know it's got 5 doors) I have seen recently. The front looks much better than the outgoing model and the rear is reminiscent of the previous pre-facelift Audi A6 (2003-2007) which was possibly one of the handsomest saloons ever made. Sober looks doesn't mean it is dull, not every car has to look like like a Nissan Juke.

Both the reliability and practicality scores just fail to hit a full 5 stars. Why? Given the mix of Golf/Focus pricing with Passat/Mondeo space and the safety and comfort kit provided for the money I can't see how you've found something to mark it down - especially as the accompanying text contains no negatives.

There ought to be products apart from this dull dog or Nissan Juke vulgarities.

Agree. For me, simple and clean design is a big plus, and - importantly - provides variety, with an option to choose more extravagant cars from other brands, if that's your choice.

Hyundai, Kia, Ford, GM...

Perhaps so.

I dont want to buy a car with start stop system! Thats not the best way to economy... I like vw and skoda but I want normal engine like before. Standard 1.4 tsi or 1.8 tsi are very good.

You can turn that off in cars computer options as user or predefine it to mods. Like you can turn it off for Sport mode but left it on for Eco mode. So dont be scared, you can turn it off :)

If I could change my car from the crappy Kia Sportage, this would undoubtedly be my first choice.

So much kit for the money, VW group build quality & componentry you can see why Skoda have it made,

Kia Sportage KX-4 anyone???

Why does the model that is reviewed here have a 5 speed manual instead of a 6?

It's a car; smart, in respect of appearance, is possible, "sexy" is not, and using the adjective to describe a car is evidence of, at best, a poor vocabulary and extremely poor eyesight.

Too bad you have to buy an audi (or a new seat or... A renault !) to have the multimedia screen implemented at the right height in the dashboard...

Looked in a mirror lately?

Because it's a lower end model, 1.6 TDi in either S or SE trim.

That's the only Mk3 Octavia that currently has a 5 speed manual box, otherwise it's a 6 speed manual, 6 or 7* speed DSG.

* Not vRS.

You can always manually deactivate it you know!

Mine is a 2 litre diesel with 60 miles on the clock and it's already saying it needs to do a full DPF regen. Ridiculous.

This review has returned from hyperspace a full twelve months after it originally appeared! When it first appeared there were no fewer than three current reviews of the same model on this site. Curious indeed.

Compared to VW and SEAT, Skoda make the better value cars and the smartest buy. The Skodas are the best VW group cars in this class and some of the best you can buy.

That's not a hatchback, as the author claimed, even if Skoda uses that demeaning term in the UK, but a lift-back, which is quite a different thing.

Lets be honest. More taxi drivers will buy one of these than familes. This obviously is one of the biggest compliments you can make, economy driving, reliability with looks being of secondary importance. In my area I estimate 7 out of 10 taxis, are the Skoda Octavia.

Last updated: 17 Jan, 2014

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