The Skoda 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 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.
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
If you’ll often be carrying heavy loads (the 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 Octavia 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, 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.