Skoda Octavia (2017-2019) review
The Skoda Octavia is a roomy, well-built family car that packs plenty of equipment at an affordable price. Alternatives are more comfortable and more stylish, though
What's not so good
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The Skoda Octavia is a very well-rounded family car that’s affordable to buy, well equipped and cheap to run. It doesn’t quite have the badge kudos of more expensive German alternatives, but it has the competition licked when it comes to space.
It’s also available in a wide range of guises, from the off-road focussed four-wheel-drive Scout model, to a high-performance vRS version with up to 245hp. You can also have your Skoda Octavia as an even more practical estate if you regularly carry very bulky loads.
The latest Skoda Octavia was updated in 2017 when it received a few visual tweaks – including a set of rather ungainly quad-headlights. In addition to this visual hiccup, every Skoda Octavia now comes with an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system as standard.
This system is a doddle to use and looks significantly more upmarket than the rather outdated display you get in the Vauxhall Astra. You don’t get satellite navigation as standard, but all models come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring so you can use your phone’s navigation apps through the car’s screen instead.
The rest of the Skoda Octavia’s spacious interior has been left pretty much unchanged. All the controls are easy to reach, intuitive to use and feel more solid than in the likes of the Vauxhall Astra – if not quite as bulletproof as in the VW Golf’s plush cabin.
Also more impressive than in most alternatives is the Skoda Octavia’s practicality. There’s ample space in the front seats for tall driver’s to get comfy, and rear-seat legroom is on a par with many much more expensive – and significantly larger – cars.
It’s a similar story when you check out the Skoda Octavia’s boot. Open the wide hatchback-style bootlid and you’ll find a 590-litre load bay that’s big enough for plenty of suitcases or a large baby buggy. Flip the back seats down and a bike will fit, too. Unfortunately, an adjustable boot floor – like the one you get as standard in the VW Golf – is an optional extra on all but high-spec Skoda Octavias.
The Skoda Octavia is more warehouse stockroom than back-street boutique – it’s impressively spacious, but probably won’t draw too many admiring glances
Even with the Skoda Octavia’s boot filled to the brim, the 150hp 1.5-litre petrol engine is more than up to the job. It feels punchy when you accelerate hard, yet doesn’t cost much to run. You can also get it with a selection of diesel engines, but you’ll have to do plenty of long motorway journeys before their impressive fuel economy offsets their higher asking price. However, don’t forget you can offset the higher price by going for a carwow deal.
On the subject of motorway driving, the Skoda Octavia is quiet and mostly very comfortable when you’re cruising along at 70mph. It struggles to iron out bumps and potholes around town as well as some alternatives, however, but not to the extent that you’d ever call it uncomfortable.
You can pay extra for adaptive suspension, but even with it fitted, the Skoda Octavia’s no hot-hatch – a Ford Focus will certainly put a bigger grin on your face on an empty country road.
That said, the sporty Ford will never be able to carry as much bulky luggage or accommodate tall passengers quite as comfortably as the impressively spacious Skoda. For that reason alone, the Skoda Octavia is certainly worthy of a place on your shortlist.
If you want to see what sort of offers are available, just click through to our Skoda Octavia deals page.
The Skoda Octavia isn’t just big, it can even rival some limos for how much room it has for people and luggage. That said, it can be a little tight in the back with three people on-board
The variable boot floor is such a useful feature - and such a cheap option - that I don't know why Skoda doesn't make it standard across the range
Passenger space is something the Skoda Octavia offers lots of for the price.
Even basic S models have a driver’s seat that adjusts for height and a steering wheel that adjusts for height and reach. As a result, pretty much all shapes and sizes of people should be able to get themselves comfortable behind the wheel.
Go for SE trim and the passenger seat also moves for height and both front seats get lumbar adjustment that’ll help take the strain out your back on a longer journey.
Laurin & Klement models, meanwhile, go one step further by adding heated seats, a steering wheel that can warm your hands on a cold winter’s morning and an electrically adjustable driver’s seats that is less laborious to adjust.
The Skoda Octavia really comes into its own with four people aboard, though. It has levels of rear legroom that alternative models – such as the Vauxhall Astra, Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus – simply can’t compete with. In fact, the Octavia can hold its own with some luxury limos – not bad for such as well-priced car!
Three in the back is a bit more of a squeeze – adults on the outside seats might brush their heads on the rear pillars, plus whoever’s in the middle gets a harder seat base and will have to share the other passengers’ footwells. It’s still perfectly doable, though.
Even fitting a child seat shouldn’t phase you – the Octavia’s big rear doors give brilliant access to the back seats and the Isofix points are easy to see once you remove their plastic covers.
You can’t even find a chink in the Skoda Octavia’s armour when it comes to storage spaces – the glovebox is big, the front door pockets can take two bottles of water and the rear door bins are almost as large. You get a couple of cup holders between the two front seats and two more in the rear centre armrest that’s fitted to SE L and Laurin & Klement models.
Those models also get a handy umbrella hidden under the front passenger seat. Plus, there’s a tray for your phone that can be had with wireless charging (for between £200-300, except on S models) that also boosts your phone signal via the Octavia’s aerial.
Considering what you get as standard, paying extra for the Simply Clever Package isn’t really needed – although, if you think you’ll have use for a double-sided boot floor with a wipe clean side, a tablet holder and a waste bin – it’s yours for £85.
As you’ve probably detected from the running theme of this review – the Skoda Octavia’s boot is also extremely practical.
It has a 590-litre capacity that makes alternatives’ boots – such as the Ford Focus (316 litres), Volkswagen Golf (380 litres), Seat Leon (380 litres), Honda Civic (478 litres) and Hyundai i30 (378 litres) – look pretty darn small.
It means the Octavia’s boot is big enough to carry two large suitcases and a couple of small ones without even having to take the parcel shelf out that, by the way, slides neatly behind the back seat if you do remove it. To get the best from the boot though, it is well worth spending £150 extra on the variable boot floor that means there’s no annoying load lip to lift luggage over.
Buy it and you also get a completely flat load bay when you put the rear seats down – which makes the 1,580-litre load capacity even more usable. It’ll take so many cardboard boxes you’ll lose count and is one of the few cars at the price that can carry a bike without you having to take its wheels off.
The Skoda Octavia has light controls that make it easy to drive around town and an interior that is for the most part very comfortable, although some alternatives are even more relaxing
Strong brakes and accurate steering give you a lot of confidence behind the wheel
If you regularly drive on a variety of roads, choosing an engine for your Skoda Octavia is easy – go for the brilliant 150hp 1.5-litre petrol, which is both cheap to run and pretty quick when you need it.
It manages this thanks to some clever tech that can rest half the engine when its extra power isn’t need – to allow for official fuel economy of 57.6mpg, although 45mpg is more likely in normal driving. Put your foot down to accelerate, though, and the other half of the engine bursts into life to provide a decent slug of performance – it can get from 0-62mph in just 8.2 seconds.
That mix of speed and frugality – combined with its relative smoothness – means you’ll have to do a serious mileage before choosing one of the diesels makes sense.
If that sounds like you, though, the 110hp 1.6-litre diesel has cheapest running costs in the range owing to its official fuel economy of 74.3mpg – meaning 60mpg should be easily achievable in the real world.
However, the 150hp 2.0-litre diesel has a better balance of power and economy – it’ll return fuel economy of up to 70.6mpg and dispatches 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds compared to the 1.6-litre model’s 10.8-second time. Both diesels can tow up to 1,800kgs; the 1.5-litre petrol manages 1,700kg.
The Skoda Octavia gives a really good account of itself on a variety of roads. Other models are a little bit quieter and have suspension that’s a touch less bumpy in town, but neither of these complaints get close to being deal breakers.
Aside from jiggling a little over bumps, you’ll not find much to grumble about if you have to drive the Octavia through the city. Its light controls make it easy to drive smoothly at slow speeds – unless you choose the optional £1,250 DSG automatic gearbox that can be jerky.
The only sizable blind spot can be found around the left and right edges of the windscreen. It’s a little trickier to park than, say, a Volkswagen Golf but then that spacious interior can’t come from free. Anyway, rear parking sensors are fitted to all but the entry-level S model and you can have a rearview camera for an extra £375.
Get on the motorway and the Skoda Octavia smooths out bumps better than it does in town and is a relaxing way to rack up loads of miles, even if the wind noise coming from the wing mirrors means it isn’t quite as hushed as the VW.
The Golf’s also a little bit safer because it comes with automatic emergency brakes as standard – in the Octavia you’ll have to pay an extra £315 or go for an SE L model or above that gets them as standard. It’s also worth noting that, while the Octavia got a five-star Euro NCAP rating for safety in 2013, cars subjected to the later, tougher tests are likely to stand up to a collision even better.
With a bit of luck though, the Skoda Octavia’s safe and predictable handling should lessen the chance of you ever being involved in an accident. Down country roads it’ll never be as fun as a Ford Focus but there’s no excessive body roll to worry about and the steering is accurate and responsive enough to make the Octavia extremely easy to place on the road.
The £850 adjustable dampers allow you to switch between soft and firm suspension settings, but the standard setup is so well judged it seems like a needless expense.
There’s lots that is very good about the Skoda Octavia’s interior, but it lacks any sort of wow factor, especially in cheaper models