Skoda Octavia Estate review
The new Skoda Octavia Estate is roomier than ever, with more standard kit and efficient new engines
This all-new Skoda Octavia Estate offers masses of space, improved build quality and a range of efficient new engines. It goes head-to-head with the likes of the Ford Focus Estate and Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer, but its biggest competition could well come from the forthcoming new VW Golf Estate and SEAT Leon ST, as they both use the same lightweight platform and efficient engine line-up as the Skoda. For a small premium over the already spacious Octavia hatchback, the estate offers even more space, sharper looks and the option of four-wheel drive on the two diesel models. There are three trim levels to choose from, but even entry-level S models come well-equipped. SE and Elegance versions add luxuries like satellite-navigation, dual-zone climate control and leather upholstery. An ultra-efficient GreenLine version will go on sale in October, boasting C02 emissions of just 87g/km, while high-performance vRS models will also be released this year.
Our choice: Octavia Estate 2.0 TDI SE
The latest Skoda Octavia Estate is longer, wider and lower than before, which helps give it a more aggressive and planted stance. It gets the same styling overhaul as the hatchback, with clean lines that give it a more upmarket look similar to the latest models from Audi. Neat details like LED rear lights, silver roof rails and smart Bi-Xenon headlights are all available as options, but even entry-level models come with alloy wheels, DAB radio and a touchscreen fitted as standard. Inside, the high quality dash materials and chunky switchgear feel really robust. The driving position is good and despite the increase in size, the Octavia Estate still feels compact enough to drive around town.
The Octavia Estate majors on comfort, so the ride is softly sprung and all the controls are light and easy to use. It's capable rather than exciting to drive, but each of the four engine options (two petrol and two diesel) are very refined and extremely efficient. The 1.6-litre TDI has enough torque to haul the extra weight of the estate around, but the tall gearing of its five-speed gearbox makes it feel a little sluggish compared to the 2.0-litre model. The petrols feel more nimble than the diesels and are whisper quiet, but feel like they might struggle when the car is fully loaded. The 4x4 versions of the TDI engines both get the more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension setup and feel grippier on twisty roads as a result - although they are also a lot less economical than front-wheel-drive versions. The DSG automatic gearbox is smooth and relaxing but does cost considerably more than the equally excellent manual 'box.
The Octavia Estate has a five-star Euro NCAP rating, and even entry-level models come with seven airbags and a sophisticated ESP system. Every Octavia also benefits from a 'Post-Collison' braking system that prevents further damage once it senses a crash has occurred. SE models get a driver fatigue system that warns you if you need to take a break, while active safety options include radar-guided cruise control, auto-braking radar, intelligent headlights that dip the beams when they sense oncoming traffic, lane-keep assistance and even an auto parking function. Skoda has performed incredibly well in our annual Driver Power satisfaction survey, thanks to its excellent dealer service and the reliability of models like the Skoda Yeti and even roomier Skoda Superb Estate.
The Skoda Octavia is the most practical car in its class bar none, and the Estate version is even more spacious than cars of a class above. It can carry 610 litres of luggage with the rear seats in place, while new handles in the boot make it easier to flip the seat backs down for a maximum luggage capacity of 1,740 litres - that's more than estate versions of the much larger Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Passat and Mazda 6. The boot is double-layered so you can choose between a flat loading bay or extra storage, while the front passenger seat also folds so you can carry longer items more easily. SE models come with a cooled glovebox, storage cubbies under the seats and seat back pockets, while options like elastic nets and bike racks make adapting the Octavia to suit your lifestyle easy. There's tonnes of space for passengers in the back, although the 4x4 models have a high central transmission tunnel.
All of the engines in the new Octavia Estate are very efficient, as every car comes with stop-start and energy recovery as standard. The pick of the bunch is the 1.6-litre TDI model, which has an official economy figure of 74.3mpg and emits less than 100g/km of C02 - amazing for such a large and practical vehicle. Even the larger capacity diesel and petrols all produce less than 120g/km of C02, so running costs should be very reasonable. Low insurance groups and a high standard specification make up for the fact that the Skoda will depreciate slightly faster than rivals like the Volkswagen Golf Estate. A GreenLine model will join the line-up later this year and promises to be even cheaper to run, too.