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 brilliantly packaged variation on its Volkswagen Group bedfellows, the VW Golf and SEAT Leon. It offers more boot space than either, as well as a hugely practical interior with enough room for five. In terms of driving, the Skoda Octavia feels competent, but it isn’t as much fun behind the wheel as some of its rivals, such as the Ford Focus or even the aforementioned 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, and it should still be on any compact estate car buyer's shortlist. You wouldn’t call the latest Octavia (updated in 2017) racy, unless you’re lucky enough to be in the market for a hot vRS version. But for solidity, reliability and all-round practicality, the Octavia is hard to beat for family or business drivers.
There's more to the Skoda Octavia than meets the eye. It used to be a sensible budget family car, but today there's plenty of variety on offer, with practical hatchback and estate models, both including rapid vRS versions. There really is something for everyone if you're looking for a car that's practical and a bit different in the family car class.
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Under the skin, the Skoda Octavia shares its platform, engines and much of its on-board tech with the Volkswagen Golf. The big difference is the Octavia's size in relation to the Golf. The Octavia is longer overall and has a longer wheelbase, too, so it offers more space than the Golf and a lot of its rivals, too. Those include cars such as the Honda Civic, Kia Ceed, Vauxhall Astra, Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla. But that's not all, as there's also the Peugeot 308, Renault Megane, Hyundai i30, SEAT Leon and Mazda 3 to consider.
While the Octavia isn't the budget option it once was, it does offer relatively good value for money. List prices start from around £18,600, which is a little lower than for the Golf, while top-spec cars such as the vRS and vRS Challenge come in at around £30,000. That's similar to the Golf, but the Octavia offers more space and a bit of extra kit for the money.
The current Octavia arrived in 2013, while an update in 2017 added a new grille and headlights, although the look wasn't universally well received.
Trim levels start with the Octavia S, then progress through SE, SE Drive, SE L and SportLine, with the vRS and vRS Challenge versions at the top of the range.
Even the entry-level Octavia S gets alloy wheels, automatic post-collision braking and a DAB radio as standard. SE L trim is designed to compete with sister company VW on the luxury front, offering comparable comforts at a more affordable price point, while SportLine is the equivalent of VW's R-Line, as it offers sporty looks like the vRS, but without the performance or higher running costs.
At the top of the line-up is the Octavia vRS, which is Skoda’s flagship performance car in this range. It’s a car that has a strong following, having received a high-profile launch at the World Rally Championship way back in 1999.
The vRS combines GTI-esque performance with all of the real-world practical qualities that Octavia owners have grown to love. There's also the vRS Challenge which adds bigger alloys, electrically-adjustable heated front seats and Dynamic Chassis Control, which offers three driving modes: Comfort, Normal and Sport.
There's a broad range of turbocharged engines to choose from. Petrol options include a 1.0 TSI turbo three-cylinder producing 113bhp, a 1.5 TSI with 148bhp and cylinder deactivation to help fuel economy, a 2.0 TSI with 187bhp, or 242bhp in the vRS. The diesels comprise a 1.6 TDI producing 113bhp, or a 2.0-litre TDI, which produces 148bhp, or 181bhp in the vRS.
Most Octavias feature a six-speed manual gearbox, although the DSG auto is offered as standard with 2.0 TDI versions and the 1.5 and 2.0-litre TSI-powered cars. On top of that, Skoda's 4x4 four-wheel drive is available on selected estate models, and the vRS in either body style.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Skoda Octavia is a subtle alternative to the Volkswagen Golf that offers more space and better value
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe engine range is impressively efficient, and the Octavia is more fun than it looks
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsImpressive economy is one of the Octavia diesel's strengths
- 4Interior, design and technologyRestrained and sensible styling wraps up a full house of technology options
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceIt's pretty simple. If you need more space than the Octavia offers, buy a van...
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe Skoda Octavia has an enviable reputation for reliability, and a five-star Euro NCAP rating