Skoda Octavia Hatchback (2013 - ) review
The Skoda Octavia is one of our favourite family hatchbacks, because it provide lots of space, quality and kit for a very affordable price. An excellent all-rounder.
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The Skoda Octavia has grown considerably, now sitting between traditional rivals like the Hyundai i30 and Renault Megane and bigger models including the Volkswagen Passat, Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia. Its jump up in size has also made way for the smaller Skoda Rapid to slot in between it and the Fabia hatchback. It’s 90mm longer and 45mm wider than before and looks more elegant and better balanced as a result. It has adopted the latest Skoda family grille, with a single chrome bar along its top edge, and has a single sweeping lower grille. Its design follows Skoda’s latest ethos of creating attractive and tough-looking cars through the use of simple, clean and strong body lines and surfaces.
If you are used to the old Octavia, the new model immediately feels more spacious inside, especially thanks to its extra shoulder width. It’s a good place to sit, too, with supportive seats, expensive materials and attractive dials, as well as a touch-screen mounted in the central console. This is a clear step up from the smaller Rapid, which feels decidedly less luxurious than the upmarket Octavia. In fact, quality levels are generally on a par with the latest Golf, and ahead of rivals including the Hyundai i30 and Renault Megane.
While the Octavia has the appearance of a saloon car, it benefits from a hatchback boot, providing a large opening to a huge luggage area. It measures 590 litres to the rear seat, way more than you get in the Hyundai i30 or Renault Megane, or for that matter, pretty much any rival. It also has the beating of most rivals for passenger space, with loads of room front and back. There are some thoughtful touches, too, like an ice scraper hidden in the fuel filler door, a double-sided boot cover (rubber on one side, carpet on the other), door litter bin, holders and hooks dotted around the cabin and also an anti-misfuel system, to stop you putting diesel in a petrol car and vice versa.
Ride and handling
Most versions of the Octavia are very pleasant to drive, with a reasonably smooth ride, decent refinement and slick controls that give the car a very easy-going character. And, while the handling isn’t as sharp as in some rival family hatches, it’s still very good, behaving in a manner that’s safe, secure and predictable. Oddly, though, one or two versions don’t feel quite as polished as the rest. The 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel, for instance, has a thumpier, unsettled quality to the ride. Pairing this engine with the semi-automatic gearbox isn’t a particularly happy union, either, because it’s jerkier and more reticent than we’ve experienced in other VW Group models.
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 you’ll be staggered by how sprightly a car of this size can feel when powered by such a small engine. 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. A 1.4 with 148bhp makes things more urgent still, and after that, you’re up to the hot-hatch reaches of the range in the shape of the vRS models. The diesel range kicks off with a very adequate 1.6 with 108bhp, and while the 148bhp 2.0-litre option does add some extra poke, it isn’t as quiet or as smooth as the 1.6. 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. All the diesels will return more than 60mpg unless you go for the one version with four-wheel drive, 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.
The Octavia scored a maximum five-star rating from Euro NCAP after crash tests, and it was particularly impressive in the pedestrian impact test, thanks to its ‘active’ bonnet. This lifts the bonnet in the event of a collision to give greater clearance between it and the hard components underneath. The Octavia received further Advanced Rewards for some of its extra safety features. Multi-Collision Brake puts on the brakes automatically if a collision is detected, reducing the risk of a secondary impact; Front Assistant will brake the car if an imminent collision is detected with an object in front of the car; and the City Emergency Braking Function observes obstacles which could enter the car’s path between speeds of 3mph to 18mph. Driver Activity Assistant monitors the actions of the driver to alert them to possible signs of fatigue or lapse in concentration. Crew Protection Assistant will pretension the front seatbelts and close the side windows and sunroof if an impending accident is detected. There’s also Lane Assist, and between seven and nine airbags depending on trim level.
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.
The Octavia is right at the heart of Skoda’s range, and represents the manufacturer’s values perfectly. It is amongst the best value and most practical cars in its class. Happily, you also don’t have to buy a range-topper to enjoy it as the entry-level models are the ones to go for.