Skoda Octavia Estate 1.6 TDI

We drive the new Skoda Octavia Estate on UK roads for the first time

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

It might not be exciting to look at, but peel back the layers and the Octavia Estate is a multi-talented family car. For many the huge boot, and array of thoughtful interior touches, will be the main draw, but the interior quality, refinement and dynamics are top-notch, too. This 1.6 TDI impresses with its hushed, seamless power delivery, although we’d avoid the optional 18-inch wheels to soften up the ride.

When we drove the Octavia Estate last month, we struggled to find any faults. So with its enormous boot, hi-tech features, minimalist styling and fuel-sipping engines, is it really the definitive modern family car? We tried it on UK roads for the first time to find out.

With the possible exception of the Yeti, Skoda’s latest models are all about flying under the radar, and true to form the Octavia is unlikely to turn many heads. But the design is well proportioned, and features plenty of crisp, contemporary lines that neatly hide the acres of space inside.

The Octavia Estate is now 90mm longer, 45mm wider and has a 110mm longer wheelbase than its predecessor – and that hasn’t gone to waste. Legroom, headroom and elbowroom have all increased, while the boot has swollen to 610 litres, or 1,740 litres with the rear seats down. That’s more than the Volkswagen Passat and Ford Mondeo Estates from the class above.

You’ll find plenty of clever touches, too, like a double-sided boot mat, an array of hooks and nets and space to store the parcel shelf under the boot floor, so you won’t have to leave it at home.

Quality is close to VW Golf standards, especially in our top-spec Elegance, which came with the optional Columbus sat-nav system (£800), and standard Alcantara and leather seats. You can pick up a 138bhp 1.4 TSI or 104bhp 1.2 TSI model for less, but the 104bhp 1.6 TDI driven here will make up the bulk of UK sales – and it’s easy to see the appeal on paper and on the road.

With a six-speed manual, it emits just 99g/km of CO2, which equates to a 14 per cent Benefit in Kind rate for company car drivers. Add a DSG gearbox and that climbs by one per cent, emissions rise to 104g/km and you’ll have to pay an extra £1,250. But it’s worth the outlay if you can afford it.

The engine buzzes away quietly under the bonnet, while acceleration never feels particularly quick. The highlight, though, is its smoothness in auto mode, when the DSG shuffles quickly and seamlessly between the ratios, always keeping you in the powerband and eliminating the traditional diesel engine surge.

Our test car was fitted with optional 18-inch alloys (£350), which meant the ride was a little firm over rutted surfaces, but body control in general is excellent, while the steering has just enough weight to make cornering fun.

Inevitably there are still some brand snobs out there who will pass on the Octavia, and prefer to pay more, but we’d urge them to take a look first. In terms of cabin space, build quality and tech (such as adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition and a driving mode selection), the Octavia Estate belongs in the class above. But its yours for £460 less than the equivalent VW Golf hatchback.

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