Skoda Octavia Review

The Skoda Octavia is Tardis-like for families and comes with great engines. It’s not the most inspiring to look at inside, mind, nor particularly fun to drive. 

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8/10
wowscore
This score is awarded by our team of
expert reviewers
With nearly 60 years of experience between them, carwow’s expert reviewers thoroughly test every car on sale on carwow, and so are perfectly placed to present you the facts and help you make that exciting decision
after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Unrivalled space inside
  • Cabin feels well screwed together
  • Efficient engines and keenly priced

What's not so good

  • Pretty bland to look at inside
  • You'll have more fun driving alternatives
  • VW Golf is comfier and quieter

Skoda Octavia: what would you like to read next?

Overall verdict

Skoda often swoops in and obliterates its Volkswagen Group stablemates on space and practicality, and the Skoda Octavia is one of the best examples of that. It’s a family car that’s bigger than a Volkswagen Golf, Seat Leon, Mercedes A-Class, Audi A3 or BMW 1 Series, but costs less to buy.

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.

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. Even so, it’s still blander inside than a Focus or Leon.

That said, there’s an exception. 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. It looks modern and is easy to use, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard. Lovely digital driver’s dials come included too.

Skoda used to be about big space and small prices, but not so much looks. Not anymore – this Octavia looks fantastic inside and out.

Mat Watson
carwow expert

If it’s space you’re after, look no further than the Octavia. There’s a huge amount of it for adults no matter if they’re sat in the front or back, while the Skoda’s huge boot puts other family car efforts to shame.

There’s a generous range of efficient engines to choose between in petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid flavours. The usual rule applies – if you’re often in town, the 1.5 petrol is best. Often on the motorway? Go for the 150hp 2.0-litre diesel. Company car drivers will find the plug-in hybrid the cheapest to run, plus there are powerful vRS models on offer too.

The Octavia is easy to manoeuvre and park in town, although its suspension can be a bit noisy and abrupt over bumps – a VW Golf is better here. The Octavia isn’t going to set your pulse racing in twisty country roads, either (a Ford Focus is more fun), but it has plenty of grip and precise steering nonetheless. On the motorway, it proves a comfortable cruiser.

If you’re sold on the Skoda Octavia’s looks, keen price and unrivalled space and practicality among family cars, build your new Octavia in our configurator to see how much you could save.

How practical is it?

Cars don’t get much more practical than the Skoda Octavia. That said, it’d be great to have the option of an adjustable boot floor on this hatchback model. 

Boot (seats up)
585 - 600 litres
Boot (seats down)
1,455 - 1,555 litres

If it’s lots of space for the family you’re after, look no further than an Octavia.

There’s a huge amount of it for adults no matter if they’re sat in the front or back, so there’s even more for kids. Three adults sat side-by-side in the back won’t even have too much to complain about.

There are plenty of handy cubbies and pockets inside the Octavia for storing your odds and sods. The glovebox is a good size and the front door bins are big enough to take a large bottle of water and lined with felt for a more premium feel.

In the back, there are generous pockets on the backs of both front seats including a handy pouch for smartphones, as well as another two good-sized door bins for water bottles on each rear door.

The Skoda’s huge boot puts other family car efforts to shame, too. At 600 litres it dwarfs those in the hatchback versions of the VW Golf, Seat Leon and Ford Focus.

It’s clever too, with handy hooks and straps included, although it’s a shame you can’t spec an adjustable boot floor – that’s reserved for the estate version of the Octavia.

What's it like to drive?

The Skoda Octavia has great engines and is good to drive on all roads. Only a bumpy ride in town lets it down, and don’t expect it to put a smile on your face on country roads.

The Octavia is grippy and has precise steering, but it doesn't have the same smile-on-your-face drive as a Ford Focus

Mat Watson
carwow expert

The Skoda Octavia will eventually be 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.

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. The 150hp version if the best balance of power and economy. 

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.

The Skoda Octavia is a good car to drive, although it does have some weaknesses.

First is its tendency to bump over broken roads in town more than, say, a VW Golf. That said, it’s easy to live with in urban environments otherwise. It has great all-round visibility and is easily manoeuvrable around car parks.

Country roads are where it’s also shown up by cars like the Ford Focus. The Octavia grips hard and has precise steering, but it doesn’t have the same control of its body and sense of eagerness to change direction of the Focus. In short, it’s just less fun to drive around corners.

Most buyers won’t care, however, and on the motorway, the Octavia proves a quiet and comfortable cruiser, if not ultimately as quiet as a Golf at 70mph. You can also spec a system that will brake and steer for you on the motorway to make things even more relaxing.

What's it like inside?

If you want to be wowed each morning when you climb into your car, the Skoda Octavia won’t be for you. However, it feels built to last which important in a family car. 

Next Read full interior review
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