The Skoda Octavia Estate is very well built and extremely functional in every respect, but it lacks any real design flair
The Octavia has a smart dashboard that feels extremely sturdy and a layout that is easy to navigate and pleasingly fuss-free to look at.
That said, if you buy an Octavia Estate in base-spec S trim then ‘style’ probably isn’t a word that carries a lot of weight when you’re choosing a new car. It has black interior plastics and dark upholstery that’ll stand up to the rigours of family life well, but are unlikely to bring a smile to your face like a more upmarket entry-level VW Golf can.
SE models feel a little nicer inside with their metallic trim pieces and chrome interior door handles.
By the time you get to SE L models the Octavia Estate starts to look reasonably premium. They come with Alcantara and part-leather upholstery that feels (and smells) expensive, but the beige option (you can also have it in black) is unlikely to react well to the mucky job of carrying a family.
That leaves Laurin & Klement models, which are the poshest of the lot. They have the same Alcantara and part-leather upholstery as SE L cars, but with ‘Laurin & Klement’ embroidered into the seats. Really, though, if you want a genuinely premium family car a mid-range Audi A3 Sportback is much more convincing.
The Skoda’s dashboard is a Samsung tablet to the VW Golf’s iPad – it’s perfectly functional but somehow not quite as nice to use as it could be
The entry-level Bolero infotainment system in the Octavia does everything really well, and makes the more expensive upgraded systems feel a bit redundant. The entry-level touchscreen’s eight-inch display and it has colourful and detailed graphics. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come fitted as standard, which means you can use your compatible smartphone’s navigation and music apps simply by plugging your phone into the USB port under the front centre armrest. It’s so handy, you soon stop using the car’s own interface.
The Bolero system is so good you’d only go for Amundsen infotainment system (fitted to SE Technology models and above) if you need its built-in sat-nav because you don’t have (or want) a smartphone that’s compatible with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Finally, there’s the top-of-the-range 9.2-inch Columbus system, which is a standard feature in Laurin & Klement trim and a £1,050 option in SE L models. It has a glassy appearance that’s appealing, but comes at the cost of a proper knob for the volume and sat-nav zoom, which means it’s more of a pain to use than the cheaper systems on the move.
All Octavia Estates come with an eight-speaker stereo that does the job if talk radio’s your thing, but won’t scratch the itch if you’re a proper music aficionado. For that you’ll need the £500 Canton stereo that’s far from sophisticated but does have nine speakers and a subwoofer to fill the interior with a much richer sound than the lacklustre basic system can muster.