Skoda Octavia Estate (2013 - ) review
The Skoda Octavia Estate is a family wagon that’s actually a realistic prospect for many families on a budget. It provides exemplary space, quality and kit, but does so at a very affordable price.
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The Skoda Octavia Estate has a simple yet smart look. The detailing at the front is neat and clean, and is dominated by the large grilled that’s pinched at the centre. A sharp crease flows all the way from the headlights to the taillights, giving a sense of strength and accentuating the Octavia’s 4.6 metre length. Like the Superb, the estate version of the Octavia looks easily as good as the hatchback, its extra set of windows finishing in a neat kick-up at the tail of the car. Black window pillars reduce the visual weight of the car when viewed from the side, and attractive silver roof bars are a reasonably priced option. It might not be as curvaceous as the Hyundai i40 Touring, but this is a nicely cohesive design. The Scout version offers buyers something a little different, with chunkier bumpers and a raised ride height giving the styling a dash of SUV appeal.
Like the Octavia hatchback, the Estate has a top-notch interior. The materials are a pleasure to look at and to touch, while the build quality is solid and the design is smart. Every button or dial has a perfectly damped movement, and there’s no fumbling around to find the switch you are looking for thanks to clear labelling and logical positioning. All trim levels feature a touch-screen infotainment system and a leather steering wheel. They also feature a wide range of adjustment for your driving position, so it’s easy to get comfy.
The Octavia Estate is a massive car compared with most similarly priced rivals, so it’s no surprise that there’s generous space in the passenger compartment. Whichever seat you end up in, you’ll enjoy bags of headroom and legroom. Open the rear hatch and you’ll need to be careful not to fall into the 610-litre boot, which expands to 1,740 litres, a figure which shames many bigger cars. Not only is it huge, it’s also clever, with seats that drop by pulling a single catch and lots of cargo-storage features. There are hooks galore for hanging shopping bags or tethering cargo nets, and we particularly like the velcro-backed panel that can be moved around the boot to stop smaller boxes or suitcases sliding around. On the flipside, the Octavia is a large car, so you’ll probably want the acoustic rear parking sensors (standard on SE and above).
Ride and handling
The Octavia Estate is surefooted, stable and relaxing to drive. Choose an SE version or higher, and you’ll get Driving Mode Selection, with Normal, Eco, Sport and Individual settings. These change the throttle response and steering weight, but really, Normal is all you’ll need, with Sport serving up artificially heavy steering. The rear suspension is upgraded to a more advanced set-up if you opt for the 4×4 model, bringing with it a better ride quality, and no increase in ride height. Of course, you can also tackle snow and muddy tracks with less chance of getting stuck, so it should suit rural folk to a tee. Granted, the car could be more exciting to drive, but it will get you there and back with minimum fuss.
There’s a wide range of engines, all of which are turbocharged. The range kicks off with a turbocharged three-cylinder petrol giving 113bhp, and while it can feel a tiny bit flat at the very bottom of the rev range, but you don’t have to get the engine spinning a whole lot faster before you tap into surprisingly strong performance and flexibility. Even so, you’re probably still better off with the stronger 148bhp 1.4 petrol if you regularly haul heavy loads (which if you’re buying an estate car, you probably do). After that, you’re up into the hotter reaches of the range, in the shape of the vRS models. The diesel range kicks off with a very adequate 1.6 with 108bhp, but the 148bhp 2.0-litre option does add some extra poke that’s particularly useful if you plan to tow. There is a vRS diesel, too, with a brawny 181bhp.
Value for money has always been at the heart of Skoda’s offering, and it’s just the same here. Prices aren’t exactly bargain-basement any more, but in terms of space, kit and quality, you’re still getting an awful lot of car for your money. Resales values aren’t bad, either, meaning your modest investment will be adequately protected. Other running costs are pretty competitive across the board. Most of the diesels will return more than 60mpg, and the cleanest version – the Greenline, is capable of sensational figures of more than 80mpg and CO2 emissions of 90g/km. The petrol versions aren’t bad, either, with all the mainstream (non-vRS) offerings returning comfortably more than 50mpg.
Skoda regularly tops customer satisfaction and reliability surveys, and we can see no reason why the Octavia Estate would change this. All the cars we’ve driven feel impeccably well-built and are finished to a standard you’d expect on a more expensive car.
Importantly for families, Euro NCAP has awarded the Octavia a full five-star crash test rating. Seven airbags are standard, as well as numerous skid-prevention technologies, including one that applies the brakes automatically after a crash to help avoid further impacts. On SE trim levels and above, a Driver Fatigue Sensor will tell you to take a break if it detects reduced concentration at the wheel.
Standard kit on the most basic S trim level includes air-conditioning, powered front windows, Bluetooth connectivity, DAB digital radio, eight speakers, USB and aux-in, 16-inch alloy wheels and hill hold control. Among the extra kit on SE, which is the top-seller, are front foglights, dual-zone climate control, body-coloured trim, electric rear windows and reversing sensors. The luxurious SE L trim vies for your attention with Alcantara and leather upholstery, rain sensing wipers, cruise control and an upgraded infotainment system with sat-nav. At the top of the range, Laurin and Klement versions have xenon headlamps, LED rear lights, cornering foglamps, adaptive cruise control, a parking assistant and heated and powered front seats finished in a trademark brown upholstery.
Because you need as much space as possible, along with modern engines and impressive comfort, and you need it all for an affordable price. On that brief, the Octavia Estate is simply untouchable.