Skoda Octavia review
The Skoda Octavia is a subtle alternative to the Volkswagen Golf that offers more space and better value
The Skoda Octavia is a family hatchback based on the Volkswagen Golf and SEAT Leon. It's brilliantly packaged and offers more bootspace than both, as well as a hugely practical interior and enough room for five.
In fact, it's one of the biggest cars in its class, coming close to models such as the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat from the class above. It's available as either a five door hatchback or more practical estate, though both offer plenty of space and identical levels of standard equipment.
While it might not offer the same exceptional value as Skodas of old, all current-generation Octavia models boast alloy wheels, automatic post-collision braking and DAB radio. Mid-range SE models are better still, while top-spec Elegance and L&K versions can rival sister company Audi for luxury.
The Skoda Octavia engine range offers an expansive line-up of diesel and petrol units, which range from the 1.2-litre petrol - the smallest engine in the range – to the turbocharged 2.0-litre turbocharged found in the Skoda Octavia vRS. All engines blend performance, practicality and economy very well, although the GreenLine is by far the most economical returning an incredible 88.3mpg and 85g/km.
There is also a Skoda Octavia Scout, which gets four-wheel drive, plastic body cladding and an increased ride height. This makes it a rival to the Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer and Volkswagen Passat Alltrack.
In terms of driving, the Skoda Octavia feels competent, but it isn’t as fun behind the wheel behind some of its rivals such as a Ford Focus or a Volkswagen Golf. The Skoda Octavia Estate won the Auto Express 'Best Estate Car of 2013' award as a result of its attractive price, spacious interior and understated looks.
Our choice: Skoda Octavia GreenLine
Since the launch of the original Octavia in 1998, the large family hatchback has spawned three-generations. While it could never be described as a 'flashy' car, the low-key styling and bargain list prices have always appealed to cost-concious buyers. However, with this latest generation car, the Czech carmaker has turned the tried and tested formula on its head.
Skoda has taken all its VW Group know-how and injected it into its big selling C-segment hatchback. The Octavia is more stylish, better packaged and more fun to drive than before – but list prices have jumped as a result, with the most recent car priced on a par with mainstream rivals like the Ford Focus and Mazda 3.
The Skoda Octavia has an interior that's superbly laid out, well screwed together and easy to use. Skoda offers the Octavia in six trim levels, which are all available in either a hatch or estate body style: the entry level S, mid-range SE and Elegance the eco-friendly GreenLine. There's also a high-spec Laurin and Klement plus a hot Skoda Octavia vRS.
Given Skoda's reputation for good value, standard equipment on the Octavia is excellent, with alloy wheels, DAB radio, a touchscreen system and Bluetooth connectivity all coming as standard on the entry-level S model.
The racy Skoda Octavia vRS adopts a sporty appearance, with a boot spoiler, bigger alloy wheels, a red strip across the rear bumper and a more aggressive bodykit. It’s also available in a bright range of colours. The interior of the Skoda Octavia vRS is also given some much needed flair thanks to sports seats, which are also available in black and white alcantara, aluminium dash-inlays, aluminium pedals and a sports steering wheel.
Behind the wheel, the conservative appearance of non-vRS Skoda Octavia models matches their handling. While it shares many components with the Volkswagen Golf and SEAT Leon, the Skoda Octavia is not as good to drive as either. It also can't match the Ford Focus for driving thrills.
The Skoda Octavia vRS gets the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine from the Volkswagen Golf GTI. It manages 0-62mph in just 6.8 seconds, it handles rather well and it will suit keen drivers who are also on the look out for practicality and economy.
The Skoda Octavia may not be quite as much fun to drive as the Volkswagen Golf, but there's very little body roll. Less sound deadening means you hear bumps in the road more than the VW, but it's far from uncomfortable.
The engine range on the Skoda Octavia yields plenty of choice. It’s comprised of four diesels and four petrols, all of which are available with Skoda's excellent automatic DSG gearbox.
With the exception of the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine in the Skoda Octavia vRS, none of the engines are particularly thrilling, but they are easy on the wallet, thanks to Skoda fitting stop-start tech across the Octavia as standard. There's even a handy 'eco tips' option that can help you save fuel by offering helpful driving advice while on the move.
If you're planning on covering big miles in your Skoda Octavia, then go for a diesel engine – they may be slightly more raucous than their equivalents in the Audi A3 or Volkswagen Golf, but the economy will be worth it. The turbocharged petrol engines in the Skoda Octavia are also worth considering if you're not doing many long journeys, but it's the GreenLine model that's the pick of the bunch. Powered by a 109bhp 1.6 TDI engine it's not the quickest, but there's no precious little penalty in terms of cornering ability and refinement compared to less economical versions.
The survey saw the Skoda Octavia take a tumble from sixth to 28th, with owners complaining about ride quality, seat comfort and dated technology. Still, running costs and build quality continue to please and the Skoda Octavia remains a solid choice for family buyers.
In 2013, the Skoda Octavia received a full five-star rating from Euro NCAP partly thanks to a new raft of safety systems, which include tech to prevent front and rear accidents and systems to ensure the driver doesn’t fall asleep at the wheel or stray out of their lane.
The safety features fitted to the Skoda Octavia 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.
The Skoda Octavia gets more space than a Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus. In fact, it can match larger cars such as the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat in the practicality stakes. It's a real selling point for the Octavia, and one that attracts a lot of potential buyers.
The current generation Skoda Octavia is much bigger than the previous model, with a huge 590-litre boot that expands to 1,580 litres with the rear seats folded flat. A Mondeo offers 541 litres, while the Passat boasts 586.
Skoda has been sensible with the interior of the Octavia, and there are plenty of storage spaces and cubbies. Look hard enough and you’ll find cup holders, rubbish bins, boot holders, a reversible boot floor and even an ice scraper hidden inside the fuel filler cap – these little touches all add to the Skoda Octavia's sensible and practical appeal.
None of the engines in the Skoda Octavia range are particularly thirsty, but the 109bhp 1.6-litre diesel is by far the most efficient, returning 74.3mpg and CO2 emissions of just 99g/km on the standard 1.6 TDI model and 88.3mpg and 85g/km on the GreenLine model. These improved figures are thanks to an extra ratio in the manual gearbox and fuel-saving technology such as stop-start, low-rolling-resistance tyres and brake energy regeneration.
The Skoda Octavia's 2.0-litre diesel engine also returns good economy figures. Without the DSG gearbox, it returns 68.9mpg, and emits 106g/km of CO2, and with it fitted, it still does a respectable 62.8mpg with 119g/km of CO2.
The sporty Skoda Octavia vRS is also available with a diesel engine, which is far from a gas-guzzler. It does 61.4mpg and emits 119g/km of CO2. Even the petrol version of the Skoda Octavia vRS is impressive with 45.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 142g/km. With the DSG gearbox, the Octavia vRS' economy figures are still pretty good - 44.1mpg, and 149g/km.
The 1.8-litre petrol TSI engines are also quite punchy and return good numbers. With the DSG gearbox, it returns 39.8mpg, plus 131g/km of CO2. Without the DSG, it returns 46.3mpg, but CO2 emissions rise to 141g/km.
Overall, the Skoda Octavia is good value to buy thanks to a high level of standard equipment and low servicing costs - this means it's not an expensive car to keep on the road.