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Car of the Year 2020: Skoda Octavia

The Auto Express Car of the Year for 2020 is the Skoda Octavia

To be crowned Auto Express Car of the Year, any vehicle has to have a special blend of talents that set it apart from not only rivals in its class – seeing it crowned a category champion – but also all of the award-winners from the different sectors we judge. The Skoda Octavia is that car.

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There’ll be a plug-in hybrid version joining the range in time, but the Octavia also proves that a pure-combustion engine vehicle still has the ability to be brilliant.

A range of efficient petrol and diesel engines means there’s lots of choice, while even the relatively high-spec trims on offer at the moment, shortly after the Octavia went on sale, still have the Czech brand’s trademark focus on value, offering lots of practicality at an affordable price.

Yet it’s clear Skoda has an eye on the future, and the tech in this Octavia will underpin the model’s success for years to come. That’s because there are more semi-autonomous driver-assistance systems, with tech that should allow the Octavia and its platform to be further developed to offer more of these features in the future as legislation changes.

Here and now, the updated infotainment is excellent, with plenty of connectivity and clever tech, such as the smart climate-control feature and up to five USB-C points to keep gadgets charged. Skoda knows this will be a car people depend on, and such kit is what modern families are after.

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Space is another key commodity it has vast reserves of, in either hatch or estate forms, hence both versions winning awards already. This shows how versatile the car is and that, pretty much, there’s an Octavia for everyone. A hot vRS will join the range soon, with petrol, diesel and plug-in powertrains.

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But the Octavia hasn’t won for the models in the pipeline. It’s claimed overall victory for its mix of real-world attributes that car buyers want. It combines space and practicality with affordability and efficiency, tech and kit with refinement, comfort and solid driving dynamics, a new-found premium feel with robust, solid build quality and bags of usability. It’s a brilliant all-rounder; it’s our brilliant Car of the Year for 2020.

New Car Awards 2020: the winners

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Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

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