There’s a particular sentence in the press pack of the Skoda Octavia that’s worth repeating: 'Skoda’s success and development has been driven by one key model: the Octavia.' 

This is the brand’s biggest-selling model – Skoda has sold 3.7 million globally since 1996 – but more than that, its evolution is a three-generation account of Skoda’s triumphant rise from former Eastern Bloc hulk to Volkswagen Group darling. 

Road test editor
The Octavia uses the VW Group's flexible MQB platform

Now, this model has changed significantly; not only to maximise its own potential but also to make space for another car in the firm’s line-up. 

The Rapid is now the compact family hatchback of the range, leaving the new Octavia with a bigger body and, inevitably, a higher price to prevent it from clashing with its sibling.  

Both increases push the model into unfamiliar territory; it is now noticeably larger than a Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus, but still slightly smaller than a Passat. In order to ensure it appeals to both private and business users alike, Skoda offers the Octavia with 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre TSI petrols and 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre diesels.

Some variants are available with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox as well, which may well prove a desirable option to those who commute in traffic on a regular basis, while new options - including intelligent park assistance - are available for the first time in the Octavia range.

Meanwhile, a four-figure sum has been added to the car’s price point. Skoda is betting that its standard-bearer can prosper within this slightly richer market niche.

Our review of the Skoda Octavia will reveal if the gamble has paid off.