£16,660 - £27,990 Price range
47 - 80 MPG
The Skoda Octavia shares its parts with the Volkswagen Golf but has more equipment, more interior space and a cheaper price. No wonder it positively flies off Skoda forecourts.
In terms of price, competition comes in the shape of models such as the Ford Focus, Hyundai i30 and the Peugeot 308, but the Octavia is actually bigger than all three. To keep its newer rivals in check, Skoda updated the Octavia in 2016, giving it a high-tech new petrol engine and extra equipment. Our guide to the Octavia facelift gives you all the details you need to know.
What hasn’t changed is the Octavia’s interior, but then it already had all the ingredients needed to make it a great family car. Brilliant build quality comes courtesy of a sea of VW parts, and although it’s not quite as classy as a Golf, the extra space on offer more than makes up for it.
If we were to find a chink in the Octavia’s lustrous armour it would be the driving experience. Despite having accurate steering, a reasonable ride and suspension that cancels out major body roll, the Octavia is just a little boring. Even the fast vRS models feel like a Golf GTI that hasn’t quite woken up yet.
Petrol vRS models share their engines with the GTI, in fact, all the Octavia’s power plants come from elsewhere in the VW range and, consequently, are very good whether you go for a petrol or a diesel. New for the facelift is the three cylinder 1.0-litre petrol, which gets from 0-62mph in under 10 seconds, but can also return more than 60mpg.
Standard equipment includes a touchscreen infotainment system, alloy wheels, a DAB digital radio and air conditioning, but sat-nav is a £800 option on basic models. Our colour and dimensions guides can help you decide if the Skoda Octavia is the new car for you.
The Octavia will receive a comprehensive overhaul for 2017 including updated styling and a revised interior. Read our dedicated Skoda Octavia facelift guide for full details.
Slide into the driver’s seat of the Octavia and you’re greeted by a well-built interior. You don’t get the mismatch of shapes found in a Ford Focus or the elaborate infotainment screen from the Renault Megane. What you do get, however, is a dashboard that is easier to use than both. Controls for the stereo and the ventilation system are clearly laid out and a doddle to understand.
Material quality is also up to German standards. There are shiny piano-black trim pieces and soft plastics for the dashboard, in fact, it’s only lower down the doors and centre console where you’ll find plastics that wouldn’t make it into a VW.
Much like the rest of the controls, the standard-fit infotainment system is something even your granny could master, with large icons that make sense and are easy to use on the move. Even if you find yourself lost in a maze of menus and submenus, the conventional ‘home’ buttons mean the safety of the main menu is never far away. Optional across the range is Skoda’s £150 SmartLink system, it can mirror the display of your smartphone via MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto interfaces and allows you to use apps for services such as music streaming and navigation.
Skoda Octavia passenger space
The spacious interior makes it clear why the Octavia is such a big hit with families. Even if your teenage children have hit a rich vein of hormones, you shouldn’t have to worry about getting kneed in the back – in fact, rear seat legroom is more comparable to that of a large family car, such as the Ford Mondeo. All is well in the front, too – mid-range models get adjustable lumbar support for the front seats, and all models have a driver’s seat that can be raised or lowered and a steering wheel that can be fine-tuned for reach and height.
Skoda Octavia boot space
Boot space is also extremely impressive for this type of car, in fact, you’ll have to buy a model from the class above to even get close. Take the larger Mondeo, for example, which has a 540-litre boot – 50 litres short of what the Skoda offers. It’s not just the size that impresses, the huge boot opening means it’s easy to load large items and for an extra £20 you can have an adjustable boot floor that makes the load bay even more practical. Signs of cost cutting are evident when you drop down the back seats, however – they don’t fold flat into the load bay like in some rivals, but the resulting 1,580-litre cavern is huge. There’s also an estate version that’s so capacious it can be found lurking in our “top ten estate cars with big boots” article.
Because it shares its MQB platform, engines and almost everything else with the VW Golf, you would expect the Octavia to drive like a Golf. And you wouldn’t be wrong…
The steering is accurate if a little light, the manual gearbox slick and the handling well-balanced. There’s lots of grip to play with in corners, and even when it runs out the Skoda remains safe and predictable. It’s an easy car to drive in town, too. The steering that feels short of resistance at speed is perfect for effortless low-speed manoeuvres and visibility is pretty decent out of all four corners. Our only complaint is that the Octavia’s comparatively large size makes it harder to park in tight spaces than other cars at the price, but there’s not much Skoda can do about that.
There’s the opportunity to sharpen the Octavia’s talons in the handling department by opting for Skoda’s Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) for a reasonable £850. It can stiffen the suspension if you’re in the mood for driving your family far too quickly around corners, or soften it to simply get you home as comfortably as possible.
If the latter applies then you’ll likely find yourself on a motorway more often than not, and the Octavia’s perfect for just such an occasion. Cruising at the legal limit the car’s long wheelbase helps the suspension deliver a decent ride, whether you splash out on DCC or not.
Low noise levels mean you can hear the kids screaming in the back with absolute clarity – engine drone is almost non-existent at 70mph and you’ll have to press your ear against the glass to hear the wind swirling past the Octavia’s wing mirrors. Even tyre roar is well contained, only really becoming audible when you come across one of the poorer surfaces in the Highways Agency’s extensive repertoire.
In fact, the Octavia does such a good impression of a comfy cruiser the £1,250 optional dual-clutch gearbox makes for the perfect upgrade. Its seven gears (to the manual’s six) mean the engine is barely stressed on fast roads and the changes are quick – it’s ideal if you’ll be doing a lot of town driving.
If you plan on taking your Skoda out into the wilds of the British countryside the Octavia Scout might appeal. Effectively a re-badged version of the VW Golf Alltrack and SEAT Leon X-perience, it has four-wheel drive and raised suspension that is more comfortable than the standard setup.
Another review section spells another opportunity to tell you about all the excellent VW Group tech that comes complete with your shiny new Skoda. Not that that’s a complaint – VW’s engines are very good and there are lots of them. New for 2016 is a thoroughly modern three-cylinder 113hp 1.0-litre petrol, which boosts fuel economy by eight percent compared to the four-cylinder 1.2 it replaces.
Skoda Octavia petrol engines
Petrol power is gearing up for a resurgence thanks to VW’s very own emissions scandal and politicians’ realisation that diesel fumes aren’t brilliant for us, or the environment.
If you fancy leading the charge, the 1.0-litre petrol fitted to the Skoda Octavia would be a brilliant place to start. Its CO2 emissions of just 104g/km rival a diesel’s figures, without the accompanying smog, so road tax is just £20 and Skoda reckons fuel economy of more than 60mpg falls within the realms of possibility. It’s pretty nippy, too, getting from 0-62mph in 9.6 seconds, and the light engine also makes for a better-handling car.
Performance can be ramped up, without annihilating the family budget, by going for the 148hp 1.4-litre petrol, which can pull the Octavia from 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds. It too is cheap to run, with Skoda quoting fuel economy of 55.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 119g/km mean road tax is just £30 a year.
The pièce de résistance in terms of performance comes in the form of the vRS model, which gets the VW Golf GTI’s 2.0-litre petrol engine. It’s about as quick as the Golf, but has way more interior space – a more detailed explanation can be found in our dedicated review.
Skoda Octavia diesel engines
While we detect the sweet smell of revolution in the air, diesel is unlikely to relinquish its dominance of the family car market just yet and it still makes up the majority of sales in this class.
And, if we’re honest, they still make a very good case for themselves if you cover a lot of miles. Take the 104hp 1.6-litre diesel, for instance, which can return fuel economy of nearly 75mpg and is free to tax. Performance falls well below fire-breather status – 0-62mph takes 10.8 seconds – but plentiful torque makes it perfect for loping down the motorway at a steady pace.
For an extra £1,360 compared to the basic diesel, you can have Skoda’s 109hp eco-tuned GreenLine III model. It adds to mid-range SE trim, with fuel-saving upgrades such as low-rolling-resistance tyres, aerodynamic upgrades, taller gears and a brake-force regeneration system that harvests energy as you slow. All that helps the Octavia return fuel economy of more than 80mpg and CO2 emissions of 90g/km; it’s even slightly quicker than the base car.
If a slight improvement in performance doesn’t quite cut it, the 148hp 2.0-litre diesel has the answer – it accelerates from 0-62mph in less than nine seconds, so it’s decently quick, and fuel economy of 70mpg remains impressive.
But if you want the full beans, the diesel vRS model is the way to go. It looks the part thanks to a sporty body kit and larger alloy wheels, and the 181hp 2.0-litre delivers the bite to back up the exterior’s bark – surging the Skoda from 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds, yet returning more than 60mpg if driven with care.
Perhaps of more relevance to consumers is its refinement - petrol engines, particularly small ones like this, remain far quieter than an equivalent diesel.
On paper it looks pretty good too. 0-62 mph takes 10.3 seconds (a little quicker than the diesel), and top speed is 122 mph. Official combined economy is 57.7 mpg which seems a little optimistic - though the diesel is unlikely to match its 70-odd mpg either. And the petrol scores on value - it's a good £2,000 cheaper than the cheapest diesel.
Testers say the turbocharged unit "punches well above its weight" and is matched to a slick six-speed manual gearbox. It's a suitably easy car to drive as a result, and refined too. The only real criticism is that value-seekers would be better served by the 1.2 TSI, and those really seeking extra performance would be better waiting for the vRS.
The engine itself gets fairly decent reviews, though it isn't the most refined unit in the world. The Octavia lets in a little more noise than some Volkswagen Group equivalents, so it can sound a little more "raucous" than some drivers expect. Thanks to the Octavia's relatively light weight though, most testers suggest the 1.6 is up to the task of hauling the car along.
Oddly, our one review of the 2.0 TDI so far suggests the engine doesn't feel as sprightly as you'd expect, though it's a "useful step up" from the 1.6 TDI. There shouldn't be too many complaints over the 2.0 TDI's economy, since 62.8 mpg on the combined cycle is possible and CO2 emissions top only 119 g/km.
The Octavia waltzes through Euro NCAP’s suite of safety tests with a five-star showing, despite being downgraded slightly following the discontinuation of its original pedestrian-friendly pop-up bonnet.
The standard list of electronic safety aids includes electronic stability control (ESC), brake force distribution and emergency brake assist. Autonomous braking is a standard feature on SE-L trims and above. Scout and vRS models are the only ones to feature Lane assist.
Skoda prices have been creeping up recently, but then this really only reflects the undeniable talents of its class-leading models. Still, Skoda doesn’t seem too keen to relinquish its reputation for offering great value for money – something that’s confirmed by the launch of two new models.
Skoda Octavia S
But before looking at them, first, have a gander at the basic S model which has all the essentials a family needs. Those include more safety acronyms than you can shake a stick at and seven airbags, plus air-conditioning and a DAB digital radio. Hell, it even looks reasonable resplendent with its standard 16-inch alloy wheels, though car geeks will spot the base model’s ugly black plastic door handles and wing mirrors.
Skoda Octavia SE
Moving up to SE trim solves that problem, with body-coloured door handles and mirrors, but you also get a useful upgrade in equipment including climate control, electric rear windows, rear parking sensors and a drive select system with Eco, Sport and Individual settings. GreenLine III models share the same kit, plus the fuel-saving extras we mentioned earlier.
Skoda Octavia SE Sport
SE Sport is the first of two new models that, pardon the pun, add value as standard. Costing £950 more than SE trim, it gets £3,150 worth of options that make the SE Sport look, well, sportier… So you get larger 17-inch alloy wheels, LEDs for the brake lights and daytime running lights, plus auto headlights. It’s racier on the inside, too, thanks to body-hugging seats and a sports steering wheel, and you also get sat-nav, in-car wi-fi, and cruise control.
Skoda Octavia SE Technology
SE Technology is the second of the new trim levels. It costs £275 more than the outgoing SE Business model but adds £1,155 worth of extras, including sat-nav and wi-fi, a multi-function steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, and auto lights and wipers.
Skoda Octavia SE L
Why you would choose SE L – over Sport or Technology – isn’t immediately apparent, but an exhaustive search through the brochure (we do so you don’t have to) reveals it has plush Alcantara-leather seats and high-beam assist, which dips the headlights automatically.
Our introduction confidently labelled the Octavia a ‘great family car’ and, with a bit of luck, why it deserves such high praise should now be clear. It’s a confident performer in all areas – with a high-quality cabin that’s more spacious than any other car for the price, decent engines, and strong equipment levels. People that care about badges will always choose a VW or ignore both and go straight for a pricey Audi but, for everyone else, the answer is always Octavia.