Used Skoda Octavia (Mk3, 2013-2020) review
A full used buyer’s guide on the Skoda Octavia covering the Octavia Mk3 (2013-2020)
Skoda has been one of the most consistent brands in our annual Driver Power satisfaction survey. And while the second-generation Octavia arrived way back in 2004, it still ranked 14th in our Driver Power 2017 used car poll; the latest model was 10th in 2018’s new car survey. It’s easy to see why owners love their Octavias. They are spacious and excellent value, with a wide range of engines and trim levels that are perfect for those wanting fast fun or ultimate economy. Throw in excellent reliability, backed up by a generally dependable dealer network, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a family car with huge appeal.
The second-generation model that arrived in 2004 cemented the Octavia’s place in the market and, by the time the third iteration appeared in 2013, Skoda’s mid-size family car had become a firm favourite in the UK.
As buyers move into SUVs and crossovers, the class in which the Octavia sits is becoming less popular. Yet this makes the Skoda even more appealing, because few rivals can match its credentials in the family market.
The Octavia Mk3 hatch arrived in March 2013 with 1.2 TSI and 1.4 TSI petrol engines, plus 1.6 TDI or 2.0 TDI diesels, as well as S, SE or Elegance trims. The latter was soon renamed SE L. By June 2013 the estate was launched with the same model structure as the hatches, and three months later the first vRS hatch and estates appeared, with turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol or diesel engines; a 4WD version was introduced in January 2016.
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Used car tests
The GreenLine that arrived in January 2014 was pegged at 88mpg and 85g/km, then in May 2014 a new range-topper arrived, the Laurin & Klement, followed by the 4WD Octavia Scout hatch in July that year. In January 2017 a facelifted Octavia was launched, with new tech, a restyled nose and a new interior.
Which one should I buy?
Even the smallest engines are perky, but it’s the bigger units that provide more relaxed mile-munching abilities, especially when paired with Skoda’s excellent DSG automatic transmission. Buy one of the four-wheel-drive editions and you’ve got the perfect tow car.
Entry-level Octavias are fitted with 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, DAB radio, air-con, a cooled glovebox, hill hold assist and powered front windows.
The SE adds rear parking sensors and climate control, while the Elegance/SE L spec brings 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, Alcantara and leather trim, sat-nav, plus electrically adjustable, heated and foldable door mirrors.
Range-topping Laurin & Klement trim also features 18-inch wheels, bi-xenon headlights, heated front seats (the driver’s is also electrically adjustable), adaptive cruise control plus Park Assist.
Alternatives to the Skoda Octavia Mk3
The Ford Mondeo is a good all-round rival that is widely available, decent to drive, superb value and reasonably reliable. The Vauxhall Insignia shares many of the Mondeo’s attributes and is also in plentiful supply.
Less obvious is the Toyota Prius, which finished fourth in our Driver Power 2018 satisfaction survey. There’s no estate, but practicality is still good, as are economy and reliability. Just beating the Octavia in this year’s poll was the Honda Civic, with great scores for running costs and practicality but, surprisingly, reliability was marked down. Other rivals worth a look include the Mazda 6, along with the more left-field Peugeot 508.
What to look for
The Winter pack is worth having. An option on all but S spec, it adds a heated windscreen, seats and washers.
Many owners upgrade standard headlights, often with H7 or H15 bulbs, usually rated at 4,000k-5,000k.
DAB radio can lose signal. It seems to be more of an issue with estate models because of the aerial arrangement.
Water can build up inside front doors if the car is left. It can reach the footwells because the seals channel it down.
Posher versions of the Octavia feel considerably more upmarket than entry-level cars, but all models have a spacious cabin that’s generously equipped and well screwed together. There’s plenty of adjustment for the seats and steering wheel, plus the boot has a good capacity; the hatch can stow 590 litres and the estate up to 1,740 litres.
The Mk3 has fixed or variable servicing; the latter has check-ups every two years or 18,000 miles, while the fixed schedule is every 10,000 miles or annually. The first service is £179 and the second £249. Once the car is three, work alternates between minor (£159) and major (£279).
Air-con is recharged every two years at £79; brake fluid is replaced at three years, then bi-annually, at £54. All diesels have a cambelt, as do many petrols; replacement is required every five years or 140,000 miles at £389, or £489 with a new water pump fitted at the same time.
There have been two recalls for the Mk3 Octavia. The first was in July 2016, for cars built between November 2015 and April 2016. Child locks on the rear doors could disengage, allowing doors to be opened from inside.
In November 2017, some Octavias manufactured that same year were called back. These were made with a poorly cast rear wheel hub, which could potentially lead to the wheel becoming detached.
Driver Power owner satisfaction
Coming 10th in the Driver Power 2018 survey is a decent result for a brand that’s no stranger to finishing in the top three. The only area in which Octavia owners don’t especially rate the car is its exterior design; everything else scores highly, including practicality, reliability, running costs and infotainment.