What is it?
This is the facelifted Skoda Octavia, which gets a turbocharged 122bhp 1.4-litre TSI engine for the first time. The car maker claims this petrol unit gives a level of performance and running costs equivalent to a larger diesel engine.
The Octavia has new bumpers and a far less brash grille. Sadly, these changes are still not enough to stop the Octavia looking rather mundane and it will still struggle to stand out in an office car park.
The Octavia, as ever, uses a number of VW group parts and is based on the Mk5 Golf’s PQ35 platform, so despite being a new car there are a number of familiarities.
The standard equipment list is impressive for a car of this price and includes an eight-speaker, six CD stereo, dual-zone air conditioning, a leather steering wheel, and 16-inch alloys.
What’s it like?
The engine is not as groundbreaking as Skoda will have us believe, but it is direct injection and more powerful and quicker than the 1.6 FSI engine it replaces.
The Octavia is an easy car to drive and spending long periods of time behind the wheel is never a problem. Couple this to a decent ride and plenty of grip and you realise that it is a good all round car and excellent for getting from A to B with little fuss.
Is Skoda pulling its punches?
What it does lack is sparkle, as it never really excels at anything other than getting the job done. The 1.4 is willing but it can sound rough at times, and you need to rev it to deliver any meaningful performance (0-62mph arrives in 9.7 seconds).
Even though Skoda quotes 42.8mpg on the combined cycle (and emissions of 154/km) this would suffer if you give in to temptation to thrash the engine, and begs the question whether a lazy, torquey diesel would be better suited to the job.
Inside, cabin quality is enough to shame some of the Octavia’s upmarket rivals and it is no worse than you would expect from the VW Golf. The driving position is excellent and dispels the myth that you need myriad different adjustments to get the right fit – it just works as it is. There is plenty of space inside, too, especially at the back, and the Octavia has a cavernous 560-litre boot.
Should I buy one?
The Skoda Octavia 1.4 TSI is excellent value and in many ways it is hard to fault. Just don’t expect bags of character and check out the diesel variants before you make a choice.