Six word summary
Octavia is hard to argue against
What is it?
The latest Skoda Octavia applies all of the same thinking of previous generation models but adds in a newfound boldness to create a family car of outstanding ability.
What’s it like?
It’s said it takes three generations to breed a gentleman and, if that’s the case, the new Skoda Octavia has finally joined the aristocratic elite of family cars. As well as all of the virtues we’ve come to appreciate in the Octavia, including comfort, space and value, the new car has a bolder look that is clearly Skoda’s own and stands out for all the right reasons.
While the styling draws in the eye, it also does a good job of masking the fact the third generation Octavia is a bit bigger. This is partly because owners have asked for more room inside, but also to create some space for the cheaper Rapid model to grow into.
We’re not going to complain about the Octavia getting bigger as it means there’s even more front and rear seat space for occupants. There is also a massive boot that belies the truth this car is based on the same platform as the current Volkswagen Golf.
With rear seats that tip and fold easily, the Octavia retains all of the ease of use and versatility that has won it a loyal following. It’s a shame Skoda has not addressed the small step in the boot floor when the seats are folded, which is something that niggled with the previous generation model.
Move into the front cabin, though, and complaints melt away as the Octavia offers a clear, concise dash layout. It’s stylish, simple, elegant and puts every control where the driver needs them without having to take his eyes off the road. This is a lesson in clarity others would do well to heed.
The clear thinking of Skoda shows through in the way the Octavia drives. It doesn’t do anything extraordinary when it comes to corners as this is left to the vRS model. Instead, the Octavia deals with corners in a no-nonsense fashion, serving up plenty of stable grip, accurate steering and a secure sense that it will look after you in all conditions.
It may not be as much fun to drives as some of the competition, but the Octavia compensates with a ride that coddles its passengers. In town, it lets the car unruffled progress, while at higher speeds there is excellent control for motorway stability without the suspension ever straying into anything as uncouth as a jittery ride. Instead, it’s cushy and comforting. The same is true for refinement, which is excellent.
Much of the refinement is down to an engine range that works quietly and competently. There’s a choice of 1.2- and 1.4-litre petrol engines or 1.6- and 2.0-litre turbodiesels. A couple of years ago, the 2.0-litre would have been the natural choice, but now it’s the 104bhp 1.6-litre turbodiesel.
Granted, the 1.6 diesel is no ball of fire in the performance stakes, taking 10.8 seconds to deal with 0-62mph. However, on the move, the diesel is more than up to the job and there is also a GreenLine version that improves on the 99g/km and 74.3mpg of the standard 1.6 TDI to deliver 85g/km CO2 output and 88.3mpg.
With a five-speed manual gearbox, the 1.6 TDI is as fun to use as it is straightforward. It sums up all that is good about the third generation of Skoda Octavia and shows the Czech has matured into one of the most noble cars in this class.
Bigger, better, more comfortable and downright impressive, the Skoda Octavia shows thoughtful design coupled to comfort will always make a compelling case. Stylish looks are a welcome addition to the Octavia’s armoury.
Words: Al Suttie