Skoda Octavia hatchback
Skoda Octavia hatchback
Price £16,310 - £27,805
- Class-leading space
- Cheap to run
- Generous equipment levels
- Design is a bit dull
- Not very exciting to drive
- Diesel engines are a little noisy
At a glance
"No family hatchback can match the Skoda Octavia when it comes to combining space, quality and value for money."
If you’re looking for a family-friendly hatchback that's well built, spacious, cheap to run and comfortable, the Skoda Octavia is a clear favourite. It's based on the Volkswagen Golf, but loses some of that car's classy touches in favour of lots of extra room inside.
The Skoda gets many of the Golf's engines, which is excellent news because it is blessed with some of the best diesel and petrol engines in its class. The result is that the Skoda comes in various forms stretching from the super-economical Skoda Octavia Greenline model to the quick Skoda Octavia vRS, with plenty to choose from in between.
Grippy four-wheel drive is another option you can go for, but only on the estate, and while the Octavia's not designed for off-roading it gives it plenty of grip for muddy tracks or adverse weather conditions.
Decent equipment levels are guaranteed, with even the basic model getting a touchscreen infotainment system, alloy wheels, air-conditioning and a DAB digital radio. The most luxurious Skoda Octavia Laurin & Klement model gets adaptive cruise control (that can keep a safe distance from the car in front), lane assist (it gently keeps the car in lane), and fog lights that follow the curves on the road.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Great line-up of Volkswagen Group engines
The Skoda Octavia Greenline is the most frugal model in the range and the one to go for if you want cheap running costs. It qualifies for free road tax, while also returning economy of 88.3mpg. In all honesty though, all the diesels are cheap to run, with every model getting quoted mpg figures above 61.4mpg – and that's on the fast Skoda Octavia vRS model that costs just £30 to tax.
The petrol engines are economical, too, and 45.6mpg is a perfectly reasonable figure for the fast vRS petrol that gets from 0-60mph in just 6.8 seconds. That said, the 1.4-litre TSI offers a better balance between economy and speed.
Interior & comfort
Space and comfort levels are among the best in class
All Skoda Octavia models get a height adjustable driver's seat and a steering wheel that can be set up for rake and reach, but while the Octavia's link to the Volkswagen Golf is clear – thanks to its well-built interior – it just doesn't feel quite as special as the VW from behind the wheel.
Skoda has also made the suspension comfortable rather than overtly sporty (ignoring the fast vRS model) and the car smoothes out the worst of the UK's bumpy roads. Again, though, the VW is ever so slightly better, while also being a tad quieter at speed.
Where the Skoda scores well is in the extra space afforded by its larger interior, which means it would be our choice on a long journey with five passengers and a fully laden car.
Practicality & boot space
No other family hatchback can match the Octavia for practicality
Class-leading space is one of the Octavia's many strengths and the Skoda can take five people with ease. It'll offer them more headroom than they would get in a Volkswagen Golf and, for that matter, the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat from the class above.
With 590 litres at your disposal, the boot is massive and that expands to 1,580 litres with the standard-fit split-folding rear seats down. Compare that to the Golf, which manages 380 and 1,270 litres respectively.
Skoda hasn’t held back on storage areas and useful features either, and the Octavia's armoury includes a place for your smartphone, a reversible boot floor with a wipe-clean side, along with the usual glovebox and door bins.
Reliability & safety
Skoda owners rave about their cars and safety levels are first class
A drop of 22 places in our 2014 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey might sound bad, but it's testament to the Octavia's strong showing in 2013 that the car still finishes in an impressive 28th place out of 150 cars. Owners scored it highly for reliability, build quality, and practicality. Skoda, meanwhile, leapt ahead of Lexus to finish top of our 2014 manufacturer rankings.
Safety is another strong point and all Octavia models get seven airbags, electronic stability control, as well as a post collision braking system that applies the car's brakes after an accident to limit the chances of it being involved in a subsequent collision. City emergency braking, which can detect an imminent collision and apply the brakes to prevent it, and driver fatigue alert, are also available at extra cost.
Engines, drive & performance
It’s not dazzling from behind the wheel but it’s certainly capable
The Skoda Octavia may not be quite as much fun to drive as the Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf, but it is not far off. Skoda has also setup the Octavia's suspension to be firmer than you’ll get in the Volkswagen so, while the car's body stays flat when cornering, it also crashes over potholes that wouldn’t be as noticeable in the Golf.
The engine range is good, with the 1.6-litre diesel providing excellent fuel economy, while the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel can get from 0-60mph in just 8.2 seconds, while also being cheap to run.
There's also a Skoda Octavia Greenline TDI model aimed as cost-concious motorists – but don't be fooled by the eco credentials, it's just as good to drive as every other model in the range.
Our pick of the range would be the 1.2-litre petrol, though, which is quieter than the diesels and costs less to buy. The small engine is a spritely performer and easy on fuel. The fast Skoda Octavia vRS is effectively a Volkswagen Golf GTI, but with more space and for a cheaper list price.
Price, value for money & options
Excellent value for money and plenty of equipment as standard
The Skoda Octavia range runs from the basic S model, to SE, Elegance, luxurious Lauren & Klement, and the fast vRS models. You can also go for the economical Skoda Octavia Greenline cars, and new SE Business spec.
Even the basic car gets a touchscreen infotainment system, DAB radio, and air-conditioning, while Elegance models get leather seats and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. Sporty vRS models, meanwhile get a subtle body kit, big alloys wheels, and sports seats, with plenty of bolstering to keep you in place when cornering.
Second-hand values won’t be as strong as a Volkswagen's but this has to be weighed up against the Skoda's cheaper price.
What the others say
"The new Octavia will provide the VW Golf with a big challenge – it’s a great car. It majors on value and space, with a stylish and well made interior. Ultimately, it’s not quite as good as the Golf dynamically, but it’s close and it’s better value. It may lack the Golf’s cache, but for an increasing number of Skoda buyers, that doesn’t (and shouldn’t) matter much at all."
"Whichever way you look at it, the new Octavia is superb value for money. It's more expensive than the outgoing model, but gets better standard kit, lower CO2 emissions and, on average, is cheaper to insure. It might not be the most desirable car in the world, but it's quite possibly the most sensible."
"The new 2013 Skoda Octavia is going to make its buyers very happy. Though the pricing has gone up, we can't fault the value, and that good old cliché "a lot of car for the money" has never been so apt."