The new Volkswagen Golf is one of our favourite family cars, and the new SEAT Leon, which shares its platform, is set to take the sector by storm, too. So it comes as no surprise that the all-new Skoda Octavia is a class leader. It mixes quality, practicality, comfort and reliability, with remarkable value and rock-bottom running costs.
What's more, any Skoda badge snobbery seems to be a thing of the past. The Czech carmaker came top of the Auto Express Driver Power satisfaction survey last year and looks set to repeat the feat in 2013. Skoda owners are an undeniably happy bunch. The updated Octavia comes with a wide range of efficient petrol and diesel engines, with the super-frugal Greenline model capable of returning 83mpg and emitting just 89g/km of CO2.
However, the pick of the lineup, and the model we’d recommend, is the 1.2-litre TSI turbocharged petrol, as it returns 57.7mpg in fuel economy and will still do 0-60mph in less than 10 seconds. It's the cheapest way into Octavia ownership and comes with a lengthy list of standard equipment – including alloy wheels, Bluetooth, DAB radio and stop-start technology. All Octavias also offer loads of interior space, including a huge boot and decent rear legroom. It's full of clever touches, too, like a reversible boot floor and handy smartphone holder on the dash.
It drives well and the supple suspension does a good job of soaking up all but the very worst lumps and bumps in the road. It might not be as exciting to drive as a Ford Focus, but the updated Octavia stays easily under control whether you’re cruising at high speed or pushing into a tight corner. The main selling point for the Skoda Octavia, however, is the fact you get everything you find in a Volkswagen Golf, for less than a VW Golf. It's superb value for money, and no matter how you look at it, you’ll never feel short changed.