New Skoda Octavia Estate 1.5 petrol 2017 review

We try the facelifted Skoda Octavia Estate with the brand's new 1.5-litre TSI petrol engine

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

The Octavia Estate is neither stylish nor glamorous, but it does the job of being a small family estate car superbly thanks to a combination of no-nonsense practicality, value and decent driving manners. The new 1.5-litre TSI petrol engine under the bonnet is a revelation, delivering smooth but punchy power, and it’s linked to a solid gearshift. The chassis is comfortable in everyday use, too.

This has been a big year for the Skoda Octavia. The Czech sister model to the Volkswagen Golf and SEAT Leon won Estate Car of the Year at our 2017 New Car Awards, and it’s also been on the receiving end of a facelift, introducing a minor design refresh, new technology and also new engines.

It’s out with the 1.4-litre TSI four-cylinder petrol, and in with the VW Group’s latest 1.5-litre unit. The 148bhp power figure is the same as before, as is the 250Nm of torque. But performance has increased on paper; the car is now three tenths faster from 0-62mph, taking eight seconds, and the top speed increases slightly to 136mph.

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However, the new 1.5-litre engine’s real party trick is the additional refinement and fuel economy it delivers. We’d always recommend the 2.0-litre TDI for real load-lugging, but the smoothness displayed by the 1.5 petrol means it’s a compelling package for family motoring. It’s punchy, making the most of the generous torque on offer to deliver reliable and linear performance, so it’s well suited to overtaking and motorway driving.

The 1.5-litre TSI boasts two new technologies over the outgoing 1.4. A stop/ start system is fitted, shutting down the engine at standstill, and it also features cylinder deactivation. When suitable, the new engine can cruise along on two cylinders only, unlocking a claimed 56.6mpg. In real-world conditions it’s possible to break the 40mpg barrier, while 115g/km CO2 emissions mean the 1.5 slots into the 20 per cent Benefit-in-Kind band for 2016-17.

The revamped power unit is impressively refined. Standing on the accelerator pedal coaxes out a smooth, muffled drone, and it barely raises its voice under slower driving.

It’s hooked up to a snappy six-speed manual gearbox, and while the steering isn’t razor sharp, it’s well judged for a car of this class. The ride itself is comfortable at all speeds, even on the optional 18-inch alloys fitted to our test car. SE models come as standard with 16-inch rims, though, which would be even more comfortable.

The cabin is unremarkable but functional. Soft-touch plastics are found at arm’s height, yet hard and scratchy materials are present if you go looking for them.

Our SE car was equipped with the mid-spec eight-inch Bolero infotainment system. While this is large, bright and easy to use once warmed up, and furnished with DAB, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, there’s no satellite navigation. This will cost you another £750 from the options list.

The Octavia Estate boasts a 610-litre boot with all the seats in place, expanding to a 1,740-litre loading bay when the rear bench is folded flat. While this can’t quite match class leader the Peugeot 308 SW, it does mean that Skoda’s offering is the most practical member of the VW Group trio, bettering the Leon ST and Golf Estate.

It offers better value for money, too. The SEAT is style focused and the VW has a higher-quality feel, but for pure penny pinching the Octavia Estate is the cheapest on paper, undercutting both rivals on list price as well as monthly deals – the latter thanks to a £3,000 PCP deposit contribution.

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