In-depth reviews

Skoda Octavia hatchback review

"The Skoda Octavia hatchback is more spacious, efficient and handsome than ever"

Carbuyer Rating

4.7 out of 5

Price
£21,425 - £36,625

Pros

  • Class-leading space
  • Quiet and comfortable
  • Low running costs

Cons

  • Average to drive
  • No longer a budget choice
  • PHEV model is expensive

The Skoda Octavia is a family hatchback that’s closely related to the Volkswagen Golf and SEAT Leon, but offers better practicality than either.

It has a strong but fuss-free design, that should age well, and hides the most spacious interior in its class. Since the arrival of the Mk1 Octavia, Skoda has taken and stretched the Golf’s underpinnings to offer a model with excellent passenger and luggage space, but without a price hike or increase in running costs.

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While this increase in size used to come at the cost of quality and refinement, that’s no longer the case. While the price gap between the two has shrunk, buyers are now also much more likely to weigh up the Octavia and Golf on their respective merits, rather than settling for any compromises with the Skoda. Indeed, anyone sitting in the back of the Octavia should enjoy its class-leading legroom, and its 600-litre boot beats cars such as the Vauxhall Insignia from the class above. 

Passengers in the front seats have never had it so good in an Octavia, especially so far as technology is concerned. There's been a push within the Volkswagen Group to make its latest interiors ‘digital’, so gauges and most physical buttons have been replaced with displays, touch-sensitive controls and improved voice recognition.

Even the entry-level SE comes with a 10-inch infotainment screen with wireless Apple CarPlay, Android and MirrorLink. SE L is seriously well equipped, gaining adaptive cruise control, heated front seats, keyless entry and 'Microsuede' upholstery.

The turbocharged engines on offer are efficient, with power spanning from 109bhp to 148bhp. Petrol engines include a 1.0-litre TSI and 1.5-litre TSI, while high-mileage drivers are catered for with a 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine in two power outputs. Power is sent to the front wheels, and either a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic gearbox is available. Even the petrol engines can manage around 50mpg, while the 113bhp diesel can return an impressive 68.9mpg in its most efficient guise - a figure that appeared realistic when we tested it. A plug-in hybrid Octavia iV version with an electric range of up to 43 miles is an appealing alternative, particularly for company-car drivers.

The Octavia isn't exactly a car you'd jump in for a Sunday drive - unless you buy the Octavia vRS we've reviewed separately - with steering that lacks feel and a touch less agility than the smaller Golf. It is comfortable though, with suspension that takes the sting out of rough roads and betters the larger Skoda Superb for ride quality. Even its diesel engine is refined, too, emitting relatively little noise.

Skoda owners tend to be a content bunch, consistently giving the Octavia and the brand competitive scores in our Driver Power survey. Safety should be reassuring for families, because the Octavia has been awarded a five-star score from Euro NCAP, matching the closely related Volkswagen Golf.

In similar fashion to the 'marginal gains' approach employed by the cycling teams Skoda tends to sponsor, the Octavia has improved in numerous small ways. These small tweaks, along with a design that arguably makes this the best-looking Octavia yet, add up to a very strong package.

Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.0 TSI SE 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £21,425

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.4 TSI iV SE Technology DSG 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £31,130

Fastest

  • Name
    2.0 TSI vRS 5dr DSG
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £32,725

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