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 VW Golf's engines, which is excellent news, because it's blessed with some of the best diesel and petrol engines in its class. The result is that the Skoda comes in a wide variety of models, from the super-economical Skoda Octavia GreenLine to the super-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 hasn't been designed for off-roading, the system gives it plenty of grip for dealing with muddy tracks or adverse weather conditions.
A decent amount of standard equipment is guaranteed, with even the basic model sporting a touchscreen infotainment system, alloy wheels, air conditioning and a DAB digital radio. The most luxurious Skoda Octavia Laurin & Klement model has adaptive cruise control (which can keep a safe distance from the car in front), lane assist (which gently keeps the car in lane) and foglights (which follow the curve of the road). The most recent addition to the range is the Skoda Octavia Black Edition, which gets a striking all-black look thanks to black paint, black front and rear spoliers and matt-black 18-inch alloy wheels.