“With the biggest boot in its class, the Skoda Octavia estate sets the bar in terms of practicality, reliability and value for money.”
The Skoda Octavia estate is a more practical version of the Octavia hatchback – boasting the biggest boot in its class at a massive 610 litres. There's a wide range of efficient petrol and diesel engines, with the 1.6-litre TDI diesel pick of the range emitting less than 100g/km of CO2. Equipment levels are good, too, with all cars getting air-conditioning, alloy wheels and electric front windows as standard, while top-spec models add leather seats and parking sensors. Yet again, Skoda offers a dependable, spacious and reliable car, in an attractive, good value package.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
As with the VW Golf on which it is based, the Skoda Octavia estate gets a wide range of economical petrol and diesel engines. All of them are turbocharged for maximum performance and efficiency, while even the basic 1.2-litre TSI petrol gives a decent turn of pace. The pick of the range is the 1.6-litre TDI diesel, though, which can return up to 74.3mpg and emit a tax-free 99g/km of CO2 – the most economical model until a GreenLine version arrives towards the end of 2013. Servicing and maintenance should be slightly cheaper than the equivalent Volkswagen, but used prices are likely to be slightly less impressive.
Interior & comfort
Thanks to a soft suspension setup designed to focus on comfort rather than a sporty drive, the Octavia is a very relaxing place to be. There is plenty of room in the front and the back, while the huge boot will ensure you never need to compromise passenger space with overflowing bags and boxes. There's loads of head and legroom in the rear, too, thanks to a high roofline and a much longer wheelbase than the old car. The central transmission tunnel is noticeable though, so the middle seat should be reserved for children or short journeys – it's simply too cramped for a full sized adult over any great distance. Up front, there's plenty of upmarket materials, and none of the cheap plastics that you’ll find in a Renault Megane ST or a Chevrolet Cruze. The Skoda Octavia really does feel built to last.
Practicality & boot space
Practicality is the Octavia's forte, whether you go for the standard hatchback or this, the more versatile estate. The boot is huge, with a class-leading 610 litres of loadspace, while even six-foot passengers will find there's plenty of head and legroom in the back. The rear seats fold down quickly and easily with the pull of a lever, to reveal a gigantic 1,740 litres of space – more than you’ll find in a Mazda6 Tourer or Ford Mondeo estate. There's a removable boot floor and a flat-folding front passenger seat, allowing owners to stash away valuables or carry longer items with ease, too. There's even a 4x4 model designed to compete with the Audi A4 quattro.
Reliability & safety
Skoda has sat close to the top of the Auto Express Driver Power survey for a number of years now, and there's good reason for that. Owners are a satisfied bunch, with the previous-generation Octavia placing an impressive sixth in the top 100 cars, and due the fact it shares many of its parts with the dependable VW Golf, the new car should be no different. It's safe, too, thanks to a range of impressive safety features including electronic stability control, ABS brakes and a clever post-collision braking system that applies the brakes to prevent any subsequent accidents once it senses an impact.
Engines, drive & performance
First and foremost, the Octavia estate is a practical family car. This means it is comfortable rather than exciting to drive – falling short of rivals like the Ford Focus estate when it comes to an enjoyable driving experience. That's not to say it isn’t capable, though. There's plenty of grip and the steering feels well suited to both town and motorway driving, while the soft suspension soaks up bumps and potholes without drama. The turbocharged engines pack plenty of punch, and even the basic 1.2-litre petrol and 1.6-litre TDI diesel models get enough overtaking power to satisfy most drivers. The excellent manual gearbox is standard across the range, while a smooth DSG automatic is an option. Top-spec diesel models even offer four-wheel drive for assured grip in adverse weather conditions like rain and snow.
Price, value for money & options
There's no denying the Skoda Octavia estate represents incredible value for money. Based on the VW Golf, the Octavia is essentially the same car, but with a redesigned body and a less desirable badge. This means you get the same dependable engines and top-notch interior finish but at a lower list price. There are three specifications to choose from, but the basic S model is arguably the best value, with equipment like a cooled glovebox, electric front windows and 16-inch alloy wheels all included as stanadrd. SE models add rear parking sensors and two-zone climate control, while top-spec Elegance cars include leather seats and bigger alloy wheels.