Skoda Octavia review (2004-2008)
One of our favourites in the class, Octavia buyers won't be disappointed.
Driving The Octavia's controls are all well-weighted and gearboxes generally have a slick, robust shift. There's a wide range of engines, but smaller 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre petrol engines can struggle. That's why the TDI diesels prove so popular; the 2.0-litre unit, for instance, has punchy performance and deep reserves of torque. It performs well in-gear, though the power delivery is rather sudden and engine noise is noticeable. An alternative is the 1.8 TSI, and the turbocharged 160bhp unit is a smooth, free-revving gem. Drawing from the Volkswagen Golf's platform, the Octavia handles well. The set-up is soft and there's plenty of compliancy, which gives it a decent ride. Yet the Skoda always remains composed, and body control in corners is good. Roll is contained, grip levels are high and, crucially, the steering is well weighted and communicative. The brakes are effective too - and many Octavias feature ESP stability control as standard. The ride of Sport models can provide a firm edge on some surfaces though, due to the low-profile tyres and 17-inch wheels.
Marketplace The Octavia has long been commended in Auto Express's New Car Honours, so its ability is without question. If you're looking for a car that falls in the middle ground between the VW Golf and Ford Focus, and the Passat and Mondeo, the Skoda is the main contender. There's an attractive solidity about this car, and the design is clean and well proportioned. Details such as indicator repeaters in the mirrors give it a stylish look, while Sport models add bold bumpers and large alloys. Both five-door hatchback and estate models are available. Trim levels include Classic, Elegance and Avantgarde, plus that Sport variant which is a UK-specific model. Prices are very keen, undercutting the Golf it's based upon by some margin. But equipment levels on some models reflect this and are a bit mean.
Owning The sense of solidity you get with the Octavia isn't just an illusion, as the panel gaps are tight and the doors shut with a reassuring thud. Inside, the simplicity and ergonomic excellence of the interior impresses; it's very easy to get on with. The driving position has a vast range of adjustment, cabin storage is well laid out and the chunky switchgear is easy to use. What's more, rear passengers have plenty of space. Roomy, robust and well designed, the Octavia's interior takes some beating. Both hatchback and estate variants are noted for their exceptionally large boots, too. The estate is bigger, seats up, than a Volvo V70! Variable service intervals reflect other VW Group cars and help stretch pitstops, while insurance ratings are one or two groups above the comparable Golf or Focus - and a little below Passats and Mondeos. Economy is good; our test 2.0 TDI averaged 43.3mpg, while the powerful 1.8 TSI returned just under 30mpg. But the best measure of how Skoda has turned around its fortunes is retained values; some Octavias retain nearly 50% after three years!