All-new 2020 Skoda Octavia revealed
The all-new 2020 Skoda Octavia has been revealed in Prague – here’s all you need to know about what is, pound for pound, the best family car you can get for your money.
2020 Skoda Octavia
all-new infotainment, mild and full-hybrid tech
Release date and price
On sale summer 2020; from around £19,000
This Skoda Octavia might be all-new, but it’s still very clearly an Octavia. Up front, you get the same distinctive grille, though it’s bluffer than before and the horrible twin headlights of the old car have been scrapped for a pair of slim-line LEDs. The crease that runs down the side of the car makes it look more imposing – like shoulder pads in a 1980s suit jacket – and you can now have wheels up to 19 inches in size, even on non-vRS models. The new look is finished off with crystal-style rear LEDs. As before, the Skoda will also be offered as an estate model, which just edges the hatchback for popularity here in the UK.
Skoda has made a big effort to make the new Octavia feel more upmarket than the last car, with soft-touch plastics, textile padded trim finishes and thickly stuffed seats that could rival your armchair at home for comfort. Pay extra and you can have them heated, cooled and with a massage function, too.
The interior is dominated by a large central infotainment touchscreen, even on entry-level models, while the majority of physical buttons are found right in the centre of the dash. You’ll also spot the Citroen-like two-spoke steering wheel – you can have a three ‘spoker’ at extra cost – and, on automatic models, you get a Porsche 911-style gear selector in place of a proper gear shifter, freeing up extra storage space.
You can have your Octavia with a choice of four infotainment systems and even the basic version comes with an eight-inch touchscreen, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring. Every other system has a 10-inch screen and can be operated either with gestures or by using Skoda’s voice activation system – Okay, Laura. Like your Amazon Alexa, this can understand spoken commands.
The Columbus infotainment system sits at the top of the range and, in the UK, is likely to add a 10-inch virtual cockpit in place of conventional dials, which means you can have the car’s sat-nav maps right in front of you behind the steering wheel, though, annoyingly, this doesn’t work when you use the more reliable sat-nav on your phone.
Want to go one step better? Then you’ll want the optional head-up display – the first time the system is available on an Octavia. It projects info – like sat-nav directions and speed – onto the windscreen so your eyes never leave the road.
Drive and handling
The new Skoda Octavia can be had with no less than four suspension setups. You get the regular springs, a sportier setup that sits 15mm lower and one that’s 15mm taller than standard, for dealing with rough country roads. If that sounds like something you need, then you might also want to consider grippy four-wheel-drive which is available with 2.0-litre models.
The final suspension option is the Dynamic Chassis Control, which lowers the car by 10mm and adds dampers that automatically adjust for the road surface. They have a soft setting to soak up bumpier roads or a sportier mode, which makes the Octavia feel taut in bends. The Dynamic Chassis Control is adjusted using the car’s drive select and, for the first time, you can adjust the steering, throttle and dampers independently, just like you can in the Hyundai i30N hot hatch.
The new Skoda is longer and wider than the old model and, as a result, it is still the most spacious family car you’ll get for the price.
Up front, there’s loads of room for tall adults and the same is true in the back where kneeroom has increased by 5mm compared with the old model. You also get a bigger boot. Estate models have a 640-litre capacity, up 30 litres from the old version, while the hatchback gets a 10-litre increase – to 600 litres.
Keeping the interior tidy is easy because the Octavia is packed full of smaller storage areas, while up to five USB-C sockets will make sure your electricals stay charged and you remain connected.
Skoda’s Simply Clever features also remain. As a result, you get added netted storage in the boot, additional pockets on the sides of the front seats specifically for smartphones and an umbrella integrated into the front door so you’ll never get caught in a shower.
The Skoda Octavia is available with a choice of three petrol engines. Both the 110hp 1.0-litre petrol three-cylinder and the 150hp 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrols come with a six-speed manual gearbox with the option to upgrade to a seven-speed automatic.
Choose the auto and you’ll also get a 48V mild-hybrid system which allows the car to coast on the motorway to save fuel. Until the vRS model is revealed next year – it’s expected to have around 250hp – the top-of-the-range petrol is a 190hp 2.0-litre that gets from 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds, plus has four-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox as standard.
If you do lots of long journeys, though, you’ll still be best off with one of the Octavia’s three 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engines, which you can expect to return fuel economy of around 60mpg under tough WLTP test conditions.
Both the 116 and 150hp models come as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox with the option to upgrade to a seven-speed auto. The top-of-the-range 200hp diesel gets a seven-speed auto and four-wheel drive as standard. It can shove you from 0-60mph in 7.1 seconds.
This is the first time you can have your Skoda Octavia as a plug-in hybrid. It uses a combination of a 1.4-litre petrol engine and an electric motor to produce 204hp in total. Its lithium-ion battery gives the Octavia an all-electric range of nearly 35 miles meaning, if you have a short commute and somewhere to charge your car, you’ll be able to get to and from work on cheap electric power alone. As well as being exempt from paying the London congestion charge it’ll also feel pretty brisk with 0-60mph taking 7.9 seconds.
One of the coolest features of the new Octavia is its Matrix LED headlights, each of which has 22 separate LEDs that are controlled individually by a camera mounted in the windscreen. When it senses a car or pedestrian, it switches off the corresponding LED while keeping the rest of the road illuminated. The result? You can use your full beams without blinding other road users. Upgrade to the fancy LEDs and you’ll also get indicators that scroll in the direction the car is turning and perform a little dance when you lock and unlock the car. Other firsts include the head-up display which projects important info like current speed, fighter jet style, onto the windscreen. On top of that you have tri-zone climate control so the driver, passenger and rear seats passengers can all set their own temperature. The final new addition on the Octavia spec sheet is four-door keyless entry – allowing you to open any passenger door without having to take your key out of your pocket.
If you like the sound of all that, the new Skoda Octavia goes on sale in the middle of next year, with a starting price of around £19,000, which will go up to £30,000 for a fully specced diesel estate.