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In-depth reviews

Skoda Octavia review – the most practical family hatchback

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

Carbuyer Rating

4.7 out of 5

Owners Rating
Be the first to review
Price
£26,775 - £36,495

Pros

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

Cons

  • Average to drive
  • No longer a budget choice
  • No PHEV version for now

Verdict – Is the Skoda Octavia a good car?

In similar fashion to the 'marginal gains' approach employed by the cycling teams Skoda tends to sponsor, the latest 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. The plentiful kit list for the entry-level SE Technology trim, along with the fact that it’s the most comfortable to ride in, make that version the most compelling choice of the range. It’s also incredibly practical, so if you need the most space a family hatchback has to offer, look no further.

Skoda Octavia models, specs and alternatives

The Skoda Octavia is a family hatchback that’s closely related to the Volkswagen Golf and SEAT Leon, but offers better practicality than either and is competitively priced from just over £26k.

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It has a strong but fuss-free design that’s evolved nicely for its 2024 mid-life facelift, 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.

Best family cars 2023Top 10 best family cars 2024

The facelifted Skoda Octavia gains sharper exterior looks and a significantly overhauled interior, so it represents a positive upgrade if you appreciate the latest technology. It’s a shame the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) is no longer offered, though, meaning you’ll be pointed in the direction of the Skoda Superb, Kodiaq or even the electric Enyaq if you’re a company car chooser in need of low Benefit-in-Kind (BiK).

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While the Octavia’s increased 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 those of cars from the class above.

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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 Technology comes with a 13-inch infotainment screen with wireless Apple CarPlay, Android and MirrorLink along with heated front seats. SE L is seriously well equipped, gaining adaptive cruise control, a heated steering wheel, keyless entry and 'Microsuede' upholstery as well as scrolling rear indicators. A new-for-2024 Sportline trim is likely to prove popular, looking almost indistinguishable from the vRS, but without the higher running costs and bills. 

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The turbocharged engines on offer are efficient, with power spanning from 114bhp to 148bhp. Petrol engines used to start with a three-cylinder 1.0-litre TSI, but the facelift ushered in an entry-level 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 on mild-hybrid versions. Even the petrol engines can manage around 50mpg, while the 114bhp diesel can return an impressive 66.2mpg 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 was an appealing alternative, particularly for company-car drivers, however, it doesn’t appear the PHEV will make a comeback for the facelifted model.

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. 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 was awarded a five-star score from Euro NCAP in 2019, and then again in 2022 under stricter testing conditions.

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Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.5 TSI SE Technology 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £26,775

Most Economical

  • Name
    2.0 TDI SE Technology 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £29,320

Fastest

  • Name
    2.0 TDI 150 SE Technology 5dr DSG
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £31,720

Andy is Carbuyer's managing editor, with more than a decade of experience helping consumers find their perfect car. He has an MA in automotive journalism and has tested hundreds of vehicles.

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