Skoda Octavia hatchback (2013-2020)
"Not only does it have lots of space, the Skoda Octavia is also well built and affordable to run"
- Spacious interior
- Great value
- Huge boot
- Bland looks
- Ride could be better
- Diesel engines are noisy
The Octavia was always a key model for Skoda. It was one of the first all-new cars to emerge after Skoda joined the Volkswagen Group in the 1990s bridging the gap between the Ford Focus and Ford Mondeo – providing a lot of car for the money.
These days, many would-be buyers of this kind of car are tempted into compact, fuel-efficient SUVs like the Octavia's Karoq stablemate. It's also worth noting a new Octavia hatchback is on its way, and we've already driven the 2020 Skoda Octavia Estate.
This shift away from hatchback models has also hit sales of the Vauxhall Astra, Renault Megane and Peugeot 308. However, being a little larger than any of the above, the Octavia range is quite broad in its appeal – all models are of a similar size to the Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia and Peugeot 508, against which it certainly has value in its favour.
Under the surface, it's closely related to the Volkswagen Golf and also shares components with the SEAT Leon and Audi A3, and buyers are spoiled for choice on bodystyles, engines and trim levels, too. There's an extremely versatile Skoda Octavia Estate that offers even more boot space than the 590-litre hatchback; and there's the speedy Skoda Octavia. It's also worth noting the Skoda Octavia is due to be replaced in 2020, with a new look inspired by the larger Skoda Superb.
The most recent Octavia update saw considerable change inside and out. Skoda's latest split-headlamp front end styling was introduced and certain models boast all-LED headlamp technology, too. LEDs are used in the rear lights, too, so the Octavia now looks more similar to the Skoda Karoq and Skoda Kodiaq SUVs.
The no-nonsense nature of the Octavia prevents any model from lacking the bare essentials. In fact, even the entry-level S features air-conditioning and a touchscreen entertainment system that incorporates DAB radio and Bluetooth. Stepping up to SE introduces dual-zone climate control, cruise control and rear parking sensors, as well as electric rear windows. This is the Octavia we reckon offers the best value for money. You can also get the SE Technology trim level featuring sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and adaptive cruise control. SE Drive, which on top of the previously mentioned trims, adds one year’s subscription to infotainment online, some smarter 17-inch alloy wheels and a wi-fi hotspot.
Above this is the SE L models, which adds plush Alcantara suede upholstery as well as automatic wipers, adaptive LED headlamps, power-folding mirrors and a colour information display in the dashboard.
The next trim level up is the Sportline, which builds on the SE L’s long list of standard kit with a number of racy visual additions on the outside, 18-inch dual tone alloy wheels and some heavily bolstered sports seats on the inside.
For those looking for a practical, fast hatchback or estate, the vRS is a great choice. Not only does it have a sporty chassis and the most powerful engines, it also looks the part outside as well as inside. Skoda have used the right blend of performance styling on the Octavia vRS, and it comes with a performance mode and most of the connectivity and safety options on the higher trim levels. Above this is the pinnacle of the Octavia range, the vRS challenge. It features styling upgrades such as 19-inch black alloy wheels and black exhaust as well as Dynamic chassis control (DCC), a colour trip control which has a lap timer and heated front vRS seats which are trimmed in Alcantara.
The engine range is made up of petrols and diesels of between 1.0 and 2.0 litres. There are two petrol TSI and two diesel TDI engines, with power outputs ranging from 113 to 187bhp. Low-mileage drivers will enjoy the 113bhp 1.0-litre and 148bhp 1.5-litre TSI petrols, the latter of which boasts clever cylinder-deactivation technology to help reduce fuel consumption.
However, those who cover in excess of about 12,000 miles a year, or who make frequent long journeys, may still be happier with the 1.6 or 2.0-litre 113bhp and 148bhp diesel engines – the latter of which is well suited to lugging heavy loads. The diesels can return between in excess of 50mpg, even under the tougher WLTP fuel economy testing regime.
Every engine, except the 1.0 TSI (manual only) comes with a choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic transmission, with the latter having little effect on running costs or performance. Take to the road in any Octavia and comfort is the priority, with steering that’s neither too heavy nor too light and a smooth ride. Yet despite this the Skoda is poised and capable through a series of turns, with enough grip and composure to keep even keen drivers happy.
Skoda has an impressive reputation for reliability and its cars are also rewarding to own. That said the Skoda Octavia plummeted 18 places in our Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, finishing the 2019 poll in 28th place - although this was out of more than 100 cars.
It’s a safe car, too, with a five-star crash-test rating from Euro NCAP thanks to standard kit that includes seven airbags and a host of driver assistance aids, including autonomous emergency braking, which continuously monitors the road ahead for obstacles and can brake to help avoid or mitigate a collision. As safe, practical, economical and comfortable family cars go, the Octavia has few peers.