Skoda Octavia 1.4TSI Elegance

Award-winning Czech hatch gets a bold new face

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Not much needed changing on the Octavia, but the revisions are successful. It’s much more distinctive inside and out, and better to drive, thanks to the new 1.4 TSI. It’s not a driver’s car like the Mondeo, but in every other area the Octavia is about as good as family models get. Factor in a competitive pricing strategy and it’s no wonder buyers are so loyal to the brand.

Skoda Octavia owners are a satisfied bunch – for the last two years, it has been crowned champion in the Auto Express Driver Power reliability survey.

But there’s always room for improvement. So the Czech firm has comprehensively updated its Ford Mondeo rival with a new look, better quality cabin and updated engines.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Skoda Octavia

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The revised styling is particularly welcome. The last model was hardly unattractive, but it wasn’t distinctive, and in today’s style-obsessed market, that can prove a problem. So in comes a handsome face inspired by the Superb executive saloon.

It’s a success – the big grille is bold without being garish, the headlights are sharp and imposing, and together with a jutting lower air intake and sculpted bonnet, it’s a classy look.

The same can be said of the cabin. There are neat decorative strips on the doors, new upholstery fabrics, while the dashboard and controls have been redesigned. With clear instruments and the same ambience as the upmarket Superb, the cabin is a classy affair – one that’s worthy of BMW or Audi.

The VW Group’s new 2.0-litre common-rail diesel will be available from the spring, but before then, the Octavia comes with a 1.4-litre turbo petrol unit first seen in the Audi A3. It produces 122bhp, so isn’t the most powerful engine around, but it does offer 200Nm of torque from 1,500rpm. That means low-down response is gutsy and overtaking ability is surprisingly good. Hooked up to a seven-speed DSG gearbox – the first time the twin-clutch unit has been available on the Octavia – it’s a smooth and responsive powertrain.

There’s further good news at the pumps. That small capacity results in economy of 42.8mpg combined – but improved CO2 emissions of 154g/km aren’t as good as the diesel’s.

As for the rest of the Skoda, the script remains the same. There’s accurate steering, a real feeling of solidity from behind the wheel and a brilliant ride. There are few cars in the class that are as comfortable or as refined as the Octavia.

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