New Skoda Octavia e-TEC 2021 review

The mild-hybrid Skoda Octavia e-TEC offers a cheaper way to electrification

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Verdict

The Octavia e-TEC is a fine first effort at mild-hybrid propulsion from Skoda. It drives smoothly, while the ride, refinement and practicality make a strong supporting case to the impressive efficiency on offer given the price. In SE Tech trim the Octavia Estate e-TEC is a versatile and affordable choice for those looking to explore what electrification can offer.

If you’re dead against diesel and still find the price of a plug-in hybrid hard to swallow, then mild-hybrid tech can be a more affordable way into an impressively efficient model – and the Skoda Octavia 1.0 TSI e-TEC proves this fact resolutely.

The e-TEC tag highlights that the Octavia, tested here in Estate form, is powered by a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with a belt-driven starter-generator as part of the car’s 48-volt electrical system.

It charges a small 0.6kWh lithium-ion battery when slowing down or lifting off the throttle, allowing engine-off coasting, which it’s surprisingly keen to do. It can also provide a boost of torque (up to 50Nm) to help performance when pulling away.

You simply don’t notice it working though, such is the system’s impressive calibration. Given that this is Skoda’s first mild-hybrid model, it’s a great effort. Total output is 108bhp and 200Nm of torque, enough for a 0-62mph time of 10.6 seconds. But that’s not important. It never feels quick, but it also never feels slow or particularly underpowered, despite the Estate’s weight.

Performance is adequate because the combustion engine’s torque is delivered low down, helped by the turbo’s variable-vane geometry, plus the small electric boost.

Refinement is excellent because the three-cylinder unit is so quiet under light loads when cruising that you rarely notice the engine cutting out. The needle on the digital rev counter falling to zero is the main hint.

Touch the throttle and the petrol engine fires back up quickly and smoothly (a benefit of the mild-hybrid technology and its starter-generator system), while the DSG dual-clutch gearbox handles changes with similar finesse, even if it is a little jerkier at low speed, losing some drivability compared with the best automatics.

The beauty of this set-up is claimed efficiency of 54.3mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 118g/km, yet in fleet-focused SE Technology trim the newcomer costs from just £24,505 – that’s £7,680 less than an Octavia Estate iV plug-in hybrid in the same specification.

You get the same level of equipment, but due to the need to package the iV’s bigger battery there’s 150 litres more room in the e-TEC’s boot (its battery is located under the front passenger seat), at a total of 640 litres. This has long been an Octavia Estate strong point, and it’s no different here, with a simply cavernous load bay that opens out to 1,700 litres, while a pair of levers in the boot means you can flip the seat backs down at the touch of a button.

SE Technology is a solid blend of kit and cost, with LED headlights, Skoda’s Front Assist system with collision warning and autonomous braking, a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment set-up with sat-nav, Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay, a 10.25-inch digital dash panel, all-round parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, and 16-inch alloy wheels all fitted as standard.

Those rims help deliver a nice level of comfort and the Estate rides with composure but plenty of compliance. Combined with the quiet powertrain, it’s a very refined car.

It’s a bit bland and boring inside, despite the new fourth-generation Octavia’s smarter cabin design, while the lack of personality isn’t helped by our car’s metallic grey paint, but then this is a pragmatic choice and it fulfils that brief completely.

Remember that while it’s more affordable, despite the ‘hybrid’ tag associated with the e-TEC name, as a mild-hybrid it can’t run solely on electric power; its battery isn’t big enough for that and the belt starter-generator isn’t strong enough to support it. It means that if you’re after a heavily electrified model to lower your running costs (especially if you mostly travel short distances that could be covered on electricity alone) then the Octavia iV will be a better choice, with fuel efficiency claims of up to 282.5mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 23g/km.

As with any PHEV, take these figures with a pinch of salt, because if you don’t plug in at every opportunity when the battery is depleted, you’ll be carrying around that extra weight but not reaping the benefit.

If as a result your circumstances still don’t work with a plug-in though, this mild-hybrid model is yet another great Skoda.

Model:Skoda Octavia Estate 1.0 TSI e-TEC DSG SE Technology
Price:£24,505
Engine:1.0-litre 3cyl mild-hybrid petrol
Power/torque:108bhp/200Nm
Transmission:Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, front-wheel drive 
0-62mph:10.6 seconds
Top speed:124mph
Economy/CO2:54.3mpg/118g/km
On saleNow

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