Skoda has decided bigger is definitely better, so the latest Octavia Estate is the most spacious yet, with more room for luggage than the Audi A6 Avant. And as the outgoing model was Europe’s best-selling estate cars last year, the pressure is on for this new car to deliver.
Thanks to its clever MQB platform, Octavia dimensions have grown. It’s now 90mm longer and 45mm wider than before, and the wheelbase has stretched by 108mm. However, the sharp new styling ensures it looks just as compact as the model it replaces. Smart optional details like the silver roof rails (£120) and slender LED running lights boost its desirability, too.
The boot loading lip is now lower and wider than before, to help make loading larger items easier, and with the rear seats folded, boot capacity is now a massive 1,740 litres (160 litres more than the hatch). Leave them in place, and it has a capacity of 610 litres.
New handles in the boot make it even easier to flip the seatbacks down, plus the front passenger seat folds flat, so you can carry flatpack furniture that’s almost three metres long.
But the Octavia caters as well for people as luggage, with masses of head and legroom, while build quality inside takes a big step forward. The sweptback dash is smart and uncluttered, and major contact points such as the steering wheel and gearlever have a really robust and classy feel.
There are four engines to choose from at launch, and our car featured the the ultra-efficient 1.6-litre TDI, which is set to be the top seller. It comes with a precise five-speed manual box and emits just 99g/km of CO2 – so there’s no road tax to pay. Skoda claims 70mpg-plus fuel economy, while an even cleaner GreenLine version, due out later this year, promises even more.
The 1.6 TDI feels surprisingly brisk thanks to its 250Nm of torque. Once you’re up to speed, cabin refinement is excellent, too. The engine can get a little vocal while accelerating, though, and the more responsive 2.0-litre diesel will only cost you £900 more in SE trim.
The ride is clearly set up for comfort rather than driving fun, but even though the Octavia has grown, the narrow footprint and light, accurate controls make it really easy to place on the road.
Body roll is minimal in corners and there is plenty of grip from the front tyres, although for extra security in poor conditions, both diesel models are available with four-wheel drive. Perhaps the most impressive thing about the new Octavia Estate is that it’s a whopping £460 cheaper than the equivalent VW Golf hatch – whichever way you look at it, that’s incredible value for money.