Skoda Octavia Estate 1.2 TSI S

When it comes to supreme practicality at a sensible price, this load-carrier is hard to beat

Second-hand estate cars are 10 a penny at around the £14,000 mark – but brand new models aren’t quite as easy to find. So, if you want the thrill of buying a box-fresh machine in a package that combines on-road brilliance with a huge boot, Skoda provides the answer.

The Octavia is now available with the VW Group’s new 1.2-litre TSI petrol turbo engine, which replaces the old 1.6-litre and produces 105bhp. We’ve been impressed by the unit in our long-term Yeti, and it’s just as good here…

The entry-level S costs £14,225 and features manual air-con, central locking and electrically adjustable mirrors. Standard-fit split-folding rear seats and roof rails take care of practical matters.

All models come with high-quality interior trim and an attractive, no-nonsense dashboard. If your budget stretches to £15,215, you’ll be able to afford the SE, which adds a CD changer, chrome cabin trim, alloy wheels and a trip computer to the mix.

In either case, the Octavia’s understated looks suit the extended roofline of the estate. And its tailgate opens to reveal a spacious 580-litre boot – one of the biggest in its class. Fold the 60:40 split rear seats and the load space increases to an impressive 1,655 litres. With power sockets, carrier bag hooks and covered storage compartments, the Skoda is an extremely practical machine.

That’s space taken care of, then, but what about pace? The 1.2-litre TSI’s turbo boosts output to 105bhp, and the four-cylinder engine is smooth and willing. You need to use the full rev range to make the most of its performance, yet peak torque of 175Nm arrives at 1,550rpm and the lively nature of the unit at higher revs makes the car an enjoyable companion.

It’s a fine motorway cruiser, too, and the light, six-ratio gearbox ensures decent refinement at high speeds. Handling is predictably safe and secure, with plenty of grip plus progressive and accurate steering, while the suspension is tuned to deliver comfort rather than out-and-out agility. Even so, the Skoda is an accomplished performer, whether you’re sprinting down a rural back road, sitting on the motorway or buzzing around town.

There’s no need to worry about reliability or aftersales service, either, because Skoda came out on top in Auto Express’s Driver Power owner satisfaction survey this year. The company’s dealer network also performed strongly in the poll, finishing second overall. So although the Octavia has a very average price tag, this load-carrying version is anything but…

In detail * Price: £14,225 Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000): £5,505/38.7% * Benefit in kind tax bracket: 15% Annual tax liability (std/higher rate): £427/£853 * Road tax band/cost: E/£110  Insurance group: 13 * Driver Power position (manufacturer/dealer): 1st/2nd * Euro NCAP (adult/child/pedestrian/overall): 4/4/2/81 points * Engine: 1.2-litre turbo 4cyl petrol * Power/torque: 105bhp at 5,000rpm/175Nm at 1,550-4,100rpm  * 0-62mph/top speed: 10.9 seconds/119mph CO2: 134g/km * Urban/extra urban/combined economy: 39.8/57.7/49.6mpg * Length/width: 4,569mm/2,018mm Wheelbase/height: 2,578mm/1,468mm  * Kerbweight: 1,265kg Boot capacity (seats up/down): 580/1,655 litres * Standard equipment: Air-con, electric front windows, electric heated mirrors, multifunction storage box behind rear seats, CD MP3 stereo, roof rail

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