The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.5
The Skoda Octavia is one of the most reliable and practical family hatchbacks on the market. It’s not bad to drive either, while the engines are among the best in the business.
Reasons to buy
- Efficient engines
At a glance
- How good does it look? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's the interior like? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How practical is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's it like to drive? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How powerful is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much will it cost me? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How reliable is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How safe is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much equipment do I get? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Why buy? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
How good does it look?
The styling of the Skoda Octavia hatch can be best described as inoffensive. Following a facelift in 2009 it now has a more distinctive look with a sharper nose, but it still isn’t a car to excite the senses. Cheaper cars come with steel wheels, but the alloys fitted to most examples lift things significantly.
What's the interior like?
The inoffensive theme continues inside the Skoda Octavia hatch, which looks like a typical Volkswagen Group product. There’s solidity to the switchgear and while the design is conservative, it still looks high-quality though the cabins of more recent Skodas like the Yeti and Superb are even better. Visibility is excellent from the driver’s seat, which has ample adjustment so it’s easy to get comfortable. Things are helped by a steering wheel that offers plenty of adjustment.
How practical is it?
The hatchback layout of the Skoda Octavia means a certain amount of practicality is guaranteed. The car’s Volkswagen Golf underpinnings give an idea of its size, although this car is almost 40cm longer than its VW cousin. The result is a load bay that can swallow 585 litres with the rear seats in place and 1,455 litres with them folded, although they don’t fold completely flat. Those luggage capacity figures aren’t that far short of the Octavia estate, with 605 or 1,655 litres. Cabin space is excellent too, with a quartet of six-footers easily accommodated, or even five if they’re good friends.
What's it like to drive?
Skoda’s men in white coats have done a very good job with the Octavia’s chassis as this is a car that handles and rides well. The set-up is definitely biased towards comfort, but for a family hatch that’s the way it should be. But bearing in mind the Octavia’s relatively generous dimensions, the balance is remarkably good.
How powerful is it?
There are no fewer than four petrol engines and two diesels (plus another one of each within the Octavia vRS range), offering performance levels that range between mild and relatively wild. The 79bhp 1.4-litre petrol is hard going, but the 104bhp 1.2-litre TSI is much more perky with its 119mph top speed and 10.8-second 0-62mph time. The 120bhp 1.4-litre TSI manages 125mph and 9.7 seconds while the 1.8-litre TSI is even sportier – it can achieve 139mph and 0-62mph in just 7.8 seconds. While the petrol units are smooth and have plenty of pull, the diesels are even better as they’re very refined and also pull very well. The 104bhp 1.6-litre TDI can do 118mph and 0-62mph in 11.8 seconds while the equivalent 2-litre TDI figures are 131mph and 9.5 seconds.
How much will it cost me?
Moving to smaller capacity petrol engines which are both turbocharged and supercharged means the Octavia’s powerplants are very efficient. Even the 1.8-litre TSI can manage 40.9mpg with CO2 emissions of 158g/km, while the 1.4-litre TSI cuts this to 44.8mpg and 148g/km. Most impressive though is the 1.2- litre TSI, which despite its strong performance can do 49.6mpg while emitting just 134g/km of CO2. Even this figure pales into insignificance compared with the diesel options though. The 2-litre TDI can average 58.9mpg and 126g/km, but most efficient of the lot is the 1.6-litre TDI, with its 62.8mpg and 119g/km.
How reliable is it?
Don’t let anybody tell you that Skoda doesn’t make great cars. The Octavia hatch has won numerous consumer satisfaction surveys in recent years, though the cars aren’t perfect. A few problems have cropped up with climate control systems, while door seals have proved leaky and windscreens can delaminate.
How safe is it?
The Octavia’s age is starting to show as it comes with just a four-star Euro NCAP crash test rating, although the bodyshell is immensely strong and withstands impacts extremely well. It doesn’t have some of the safety kit that key rivals come with though. For example, while front and side airbags are standard for those in the front, curtain airbags are an option, except on Laurin & Klement models, where they’re standard. Anti-whiplash head restraints, anti-lock brakes, traction control and brake assist are standard but you’ll have to pay extra for electronic stability programme on all models except the Laurin & Klement.
How much equipment do I get?
Skoda Octavia hatch buyers can choose between S, SE, Elegance or Laurin & Klement trim levels. Even the most basic of these gets electric front windows, electrically adjusted and heated door mirrors, air-con, central locking and a four-speaker CD/tuner. SE trim brings alloy wheels, rear electric windows, extra speakers and a trip computer. Elegance adds dual-zone climate control, cruise control, rear parking sensors and an upgraded stereo. The range-topping Laurin & Klement also comes with an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, 17-inch alloy wheels, metallic paint and xenon lights.
Practical and incredibly reliable, the Skoda Octavia hatch is one of those cars bought with the head rather than the heart, because it’s largely a rational purchase.