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Andy Harris
Motoring and Property Editor
8:35 AM 16th September 2020

Czech Mate - New Family-Friendly Skoda Octavia Driven

The Octavia has been at the heart of the Skoda brand for more than six decades and has established itself as a key pillar of the brand’s ongoing success in the UK. 2020 marks the arrival of an all-new fourth-generation model.

The all-new Octavia range launched with two body styles, two special First Edition trim levels and three engine options. Prices range from £22,390 OTR for the 1.5 TSI 150PS SE First Edition hatch model to £29,515 OTR for the 2.0 TDI 150PS DSG Estate SE L First Edition.

On Test

My test car for the week was the capacious estate in First Edition guise. With the current move away from diesel, I was quite surprised to find a 115PS variant under the bonnet. This was to be a boon as I had many miles to travel.

Race Blue paintwork showed off the Octavia’s new lines rather splendidly and it paired nicely with the optional 18-inch alloy wheels. Smart, yet understated.

Fast Facts

Skoda Octavia SE L First Edition Estate
115PS 2.0-litre diesel engine
Six-speed manual gearbox
0-62mph in 10.4 seconds
Top speed 127mph
Combined economy 55.4-62.8mpg (WLTP)
Emissions 118-135g/km CO2
Price £27,140 (£29,895 as driven)

The drive

Much of my week was spent plying the motorways of England, travelling between engagements. At this the Octavia excels. Refined, comfortable and amazingly frugal at all times. With the cruise control set at 70mph, I returned over 70mpg and recorded an impressive 64mpg for the whole test period.

On paper, the modest powered diesel engine looks a little slow but in practice there was always plenty of torque available, so I rarely felt the need for any more get up and go.

The manual gearbox is slick and precise, though my preference would be the self-shifting DSG box.
Away from the motorway cruise, the latest Octavia goes about its duties in an efficient manner. It is not a car to thrill, but with a well-sorted ride and predictable handling, there is little to criticise.

On the inside

The First Edition cars are extremely well equipped. There is a 10-inch touchscreen which controls most of the car’s entertainment, communication and heating controls. A tad more complicated than strictly necessary, I tried accessing the functions using voice control. Mixed results and an occasional outburst of shouting seemed to be required…

The ‘Virtual Cockpit’, a standard fit, is also worthy of note. It allows the driver to change the instrument display and can replicate the satellite navigation for example, whilst shrinking the speedo and rev counter.

Skoda make much of their ‘Simply Clever’ features and finding an umbrella in the driver’s door and an ice scraper in the fuel filler cap are small things, but they do make for an enjoyable ownership experience.

I would add the Head-up display (£690), such a useful feature on our speed camera infested roads. The zingy blue paint (£595) would get the nod from me too.

The rivals

Volkswagen’s new Golf shares much with the Octavia and is a default purchase for many. I can understand that, but Octavia offers better value for money, much more space and dare I say it, is better to drive.

The popular Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra are definitely in the mix, but such is the space on offer with the new Octavia, perhaps Mondeo and Insignia could be considered instead.

Toyota’s new Corolla is worth a mention and whilst not the most exciting car to drive, its superb build quality means that it will probably last forever.

Verdict

Bigger, safer, and packed with more technology than ever, the fourth-generation Octavia is a car I could very easily live with and was genuinely sorry to see depart. It slots into everyday life so very easily and is hugely spacious and practical in both hatchback and estate forms.

The multitude of engines and drivetrains on offer will ensure that there is a model to suit and I look forward to trying the sporty vRS model later in the year.

Take one for a drive, the new Octavia is probably all the car any of us need, despite what we may think.