Skoda Octavia Estate review
The Skoda Octavia Estate has loads of passenger space for the price, a huge boot and interior quality that borders on premium – but it’s not exciting
What's not so good
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The Skoda Octavia Estate should be near the top of your shortlist if you’re looking for a spacious family estate that’s very well built and doesn’t need a premium badge to prove it. It’s based on the regular Octavia hatchback, which means it is also available in fast vRS and rugged Scout forms, which are reviewed separately.
As with the rest of the Skoda Octavia range, it was launched in 2013 and updated in 2017 with revised safety features and upgraded infotainment systems, but also some awkward-looking front-end styling with four headlights rather than the twin lights of the old car.
Its 610-litre boot is the main reason you would choose the Skoda Octavia Estate over the regular hatchback – its boxy shape means it can carry bulkier luggage and is ideal for dog owners (or their dogs). A rear-seat-down capacity of 1,740 litres compares well to the 1,530 litres you get in the hatchback.
SE L cars come with an adjustable boot floor, which makes it easier to slide heavy loads into place, and all versions get a removable boot light that doubles as a torch – handy should you need to change a wheel in the dark.
Aside from the boot, the estate follows the proven formula laid out by the standard car – it has more rear leg room than similarly priced models such as the Vauxhall Astra and Volkswagen Golf – and more headroom too. Space up front is also generous and you and your front-seat passenger are well placed to admire the Skoda’s excellent build quality.
It might not have the fancier trim pieces and upholstery you get in a VW Golf, but it fundamentally looks and feels well built – so you can feel nice and smug considering it undercuts most alternatives on price too.
Buying an Octavia Estate is like shopping at Lidl – the enjoyment comes in knowing you’re getting a fantastic product at a decent price
And the Skoda Octavia Estate doesn’t drop the ball when it comes to engines. The 150hp 1.5-litre petrol is well priced and a solid performer in all areas, but the grunty 2.0-litre diesel (with the same power) might be a better bet if you intend to stuff it to the gunwales as its maker intended. If you don’t, though, stick with the petrol, which injects the Octavia’s otherwise sombre driving experience with a little bit of fun.
That’s not to say it’s bad to drive – it’s a little noisier than the VW Golf and tiny bit more jiggly in town, but it performs well in most environments, with plenty of grip on country roads, light controls for town driving and a relaxed feel on the motorway.
Predictably, safety is also strong. In 2017 the Skoda Octavia Estate got an auto-emergency-braking system that detects people as well as other cars, which should help boost the five-star safety rating the Octavia was awarded by Euro NCAP in 2013. It is one in a long list of reasons why the Octavia Estate shouldn’t be overlooked if you’re on the hunt for a great family car.
This Skoda Octavia Estate is one of the very best, carrying plenty of passengers and loads of luggage without any trouble. Only if you’re sat in the harder centre rear seat will you have any complaint
Skoda may bang on about its cars being Simply Clever, but things are subtly different with the Octavia Estate: it's simply brilliant
Plush interior fixtures and fittings might not be the Skoda Octavia Estate’s thing, but if you count space as a luxury then it has its peers well and truly beat.
That’s clear from the moment you lower yourself into the driver’s seat – space up front is plentiful and even entry-level S models have a height adjustable driver’s seat and a steering wheel that adjusts for height and reach. Factor in pedals that seem to be perfectly aligned with the seat and you’re almost guaranteed to find a comfy position.
All models from SE upwards get adjustable lumbar support (either manual or electric, depending on model) that’ll save you from backache on long journeys. But top-of-the-range Laurin & Klement cars get heated front seats, an electrically adjustable driver’s chair and a heated steering wheel.
The back seats don’t offer the range of features offered to those in the front, but your passengers are unlikely to complain about a lack of space. The Skoda Octavia Estate has significantly more knee room than alternative models – such as the Volkswagen Golf and Vauxhall Astra – and although the Honda Civic gets close to matching it for leg room, the Skoda blows it out the water for headroom.
The Skoda Octavia Estate is still decent with three people in the back – the higher roofline means it is better suited to the job than slightly lower-roofed Octavia hatchback. That said, whoever’s in the middle will have to put up with a hard seat base and sharing the other passengers’ footwells.
The estate’s higher roofline also means you don’t have to bend your back as much as you do in the regular car when fitting a child seat. The big rear doors give you excellent access to the back and the Isofix points are easy to anchor the seat to once you’ve removed their (easy to lose) plastic covers.
The Skoda Octavia Estate is even practical when it comes to smaller storage areas. Combine the capacity of the Octavia’s cup holders, glovebox and door pockets and you’ll have enough water to have a decent bath that, incidentally, will easily fit in the boot.
The Octavia also has a tray for your phone and a USB plug under the front centre armrest. SE L and Laurin & Klement models go one step further with an umbrella stashed under the front passenger seat. But all models get an ice scraper hidden under the fuel-filler cap and a windscreen-mounted clip to keep your parking ticket on show to trigger-happy traffic wardens.
The main reason you’ll choose the Skoda Octavia Estate over the regular hatchback is its more practical boot. It has a 610 litre capacity against the standard car’s 590-litre figure but (because Skoda only measures up to the bottom of the rear windows) it’s much more practical than the figures suggest.
Its taller space makes it much better for carrying bulky items such as boxes and will also prove a handier companion on a trip to Ikea. The cheap optional variable boot floor (not available on S cars but standard on SE L trim) is a must-have to get the best from the Skoda Octavia Estate’s load space. It flattens out the load lip, so you can slide heavy items into place without cricking your back lifting them. It’ll also make the boot easier for a dog to jump into.
The variable floor also helps when the rear seats are folded away – it flattens out the hump in the floor that would be left by the seats – allowing you to make easy use of the estate’s whopping 1,740-litre capacity.
The Skoda Octavia Estate is suited to a variety of roads – its light controls make it stress-free in town and it’s fairly relaxing on the motorway, although alternatives are a smidge more comfortable
The 1.5-litre petrol is a brilliant all-rounder, but if you’re going to be lugging the kind loads the Octavia is capable of carrying it’s worth considering the 2.0-litre diesel
The Skoda Octavia Estate’s 150hp 1.5-litre petrol engine is a great all-rounder. Its 0-62mph time of 8.2 seconds means it can feel pretty quick, but it can realistically return fuel economy of 45mpg without you having to make too much effort to drive economically. It’s also freer revving, smoother and quieter than the diesel.
If you’ll often be carrying heavy loads (the Skoda Octavia Estate can carry up to 645kgs), there’s a case for choosing the 150hp diesel, though. It has more grunt lower in the rev range than the petrol, which is the kind of punch you’ll need when the car’s fully laden. For a diesel it’s pretty smooth, gets from 0-62mph in under nine seconds (so is reasonably quick), and should be able to return 60mpg easily enough.
The Skoda Octavia Estate has so far proved itself to be the consummate all-rounder and that’s a theme that continues when you come to drive it.
In town, its steering is light enough to make it easy to manoeuvre and the standard six-speed manual gearbox is slick and precise. A DSG automatic gearbox (with six or seven speeds depending on model) is also available and is worth going for if you often drive in stop-start traffic.
The auto’s only downside is that it can be a little jerky when making delicate parking manoeuvres. Aside from this complaint though, better rearward visibility means the estate model is slightly easier to reverse park than the hatchback and it gets rear parking sensors as standard on all but S models.
Your view out the front is perfect though, so you can go round tight country roads without having to worry about opposing traffic getting lost in your blind spot.
The Skoda Octavia Estate doesn’t encourage you to chuck it around corners like a Ford Focus might, but it handles safely with very little body roll and plenty of grip. The only blot on its copybook is slightly jiggly suspension that makes you feel a bit uncomfortable at slow speeds.
Things settle down when you hit the motorway, though – at these sorts of speeds it’s very comfortable and also quiet, if not quite as relaxing a car to travel in as the VW Golf, which suffers from a little less wind noise and also has less jiggly suspension.
The Volkswagen also slightly trumps the Skoda for safety because it comes with automatic emergency braking – to prevent or lessen low-speed collisions – as standard. In the Skoda Octavia Estate, they’re a £315 extra on most trims and not even an option on S models. An omission like this would hurt the Octavia if it was subjected to a tough 2017 NCAP safety test, although it did score the full five stars when it was evaluated in 2013.
The Skoda Octavia Estate is very well built and extremely functional in every respect, but it lacks any real design flair