"The latest Skoda Octavia offers bags of space, quality and value, plus economical engines."
The new Skoda Octavia takes a slightly different approach to most small hatchbacks. It offers much more space inside than the likes of the VW Golf,Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and, of course, other VW group family members like the Audi A3 and SEAT Leon. It's great value, too, with decent prices and the sort of standard equipment that's closer to a Kia Cee’d or Hyundai i30. Running costs should be low, too, thanks to a range of fuel-efficient engines with fuel-saving features such as automatic stop/start for the engine when the car comes to a halt. It all adds up to a great value, hugely spacious and high-quality package that easily won our 2013 CarBuyer Best Family Car award.
The bosses of the Volkswagen group couldn’t possibly let the new Skoda Octavia drive better than the new Volkswagen Golf, could they? The simple answer is no. The Octavia has a firmer ride and you’ll feel more of the bad bits on the road surface. It's not especially uncomfortable, but you’ll notice potholes and ridges more that you might in a Golf or Focus. You won’t find yourself leaning too much when you go around corners, however, as the Octavia's suspension keeps the car flat when you go around bends. There's a wide range of engines, including a fast 2.0 TDI diesel and econmocial 1.6 TDI. However, the entry-level 1.2-litre turbo petrol is the surprise pick, feeling perky even when fully loaded.
The Skoda Octavia might not be as exciting to drive as a Ford Focus, but for anyone who values comfort more highly, it's well worth a look. There's plenty of space, with enough head and kneeroom to rival cars in the class above – allowing rear-seat passengers to stretch out in comfort. The driver gets a decent driving position, too, with lots of adjustment for the seat and steering wheel and good, clear controls. The ride is more comfortable than most rivals, yet can’t quite compete with the well-rounded VW Golf on which it is based. What's more, all the engines are remarkably refined – especially the diesels. The 1.6 TDI is a little rattly but the 2.0 TDI is an ideal long-distance motorway cruiser.
Skoda has become a regular fixture at the top of our Driver Power customer satisfaction survey and for good reason – owners say their cars rarely let them down and if they do, dealers are quick and effective with the fixes. The mechanical bits are all tried and tested from the Volkswagen family – the new Octavia shares many of its engines and suspension bits with the VW Golf, so therefore other VW Group cars such as the Audi A3 and SEAT Leon, too. If you had the Octavia, Golf, A3 and Leon on your shopping list, you might notice some of the buttons and switches being similar. But that shouldn’t be a problem as quality is a strong point.
The past two generations of Skoda Octavia have been known for the amount of space they offer and the new Octavia continues that trend. Tall passengers can sit behind tall drivers with room to spare, while all their luggage will fit in the 590-litre boot, too – which is the biggest among its rivals. It's not just about the space, however. There are lots of clever and useful touches, from the holder you can slot your smartphone into to stop it rolling about, to the reversible boot floor for when you need to transport dirtier items. There's also a useful automatic parking system that not only helps you parallel and bay park, but can also get you out of a tight spot if you find yourself boxed in.
Value for money
The new Skoda Octavia might not have the jaw-dropping list price of its predecessor, but it still undercuts most of its rivals by some margin. That doesn’t mean the Octavia feels cheap, though, especially with the entry-level S model getting luxury kit like air-con, alloy wheels, Bluetooth phone connection and a digital radio. It doesn’t feel quite as well built as a VW Golf, and for some the badge alone will make the VW a more desirable proposition. That said, there's plenty of safety equipment, with up to nine airbags and other safety ‘assistants’ available that you’d normally only find in more expensive cars. They include a system that will prevent nose-to-tail accidents in traffic and stop you slipping out of your lane on the motorway.
The new Skoda Octavia features many of the engines you’ll find elsewhere in the VW group family, or elsewhere in the Skoda range. There are two diesel and two petrol engines, with the highlight being the Greenline model that claims an 83mpg average and a tax-friendly CO2 rating of 89g/km. Even the best-selling 1.6 diesel will be road tax free at 99g/km of CO2, while the more powerful 2.0-litre diesel rates at 109g/km. And one of the reasons Skoda's dealers are always rated so highly is because they manage to keep servicing prices low, too.