What is it?
Europe’s biggest selling estate car - well, the last Octavia estate was, so this one’s got a bit of a reputation to live up to. And although the 4x4 makes up a fairly small proportion of sales, it's the logical extension of Skoda's quietly practical nature. Like those people you know who can fix anything with a roll of Sellotape and a biro.
This is the 2.0-litre diesel, the more powerful of the two diesel options, with 148bhp and 236lb ft, which will hopefully give it the extra spark missing from the 1.6-litre TDI estate.
The 4x4 system is new - a fifth generation Haldex unit which is slightly lighter than the previous one and is claimed to be faster acting - and all Octavia 4x4s use a multi-link rear axle in place of the torsion beam of the lower-powered front-drivers.
What is it like?
A better car than the 1.6 TDI. The biggest problem with that model is 104bhp, which is not quite enough, but the 2.0-litre’s 148bhp is. Where the 1.6 needs quite a lot of gear-shifting to keep it moving, the 2.0-litre just doesn't.
It feels usefully more relaxed, and although refinement is not an issue in the 1.6, the 2.0-litre (and its six-speed gearbox) makes for a calmer experience.
Peak torque arrives 250rpm further up the rev counter than in the 1.6; in practice, you don’t notice this difference but you do notice the extra 52lb ft and the way in which it significantly improves the car’s demeanour.
The new Haldex 4x4 system is totally unobtrusive, grippy and gives the Skoda more than a modicum of off-road ability, helped by the addition of electronic diff locks on both axles.
Oddly, although when compared to a torsion-bar equipped car the multi-link rear end definitely improves the car’s composure on loose and badly maintained surfaces, it makes much less difference to the ride quality and noise than you might think.
Should I buy one?
It’s difficult to think of reasons not to buy one. Given that there’s so little in it when you compare consumption and CO2 - the 1.6-litre returns a claimed 60.1mpg and emits 124g/km, while the 2.0 does 57.6mpg and 122g/km - the bigger engine’s £900 premium doesn’t seem like so much of a, well, premium.
The increased power and torque are what the estate needs, and while the Skoda Octavia’s unobtrusive nature may not appeal to everyone, as a supremely practical holdall it’s hard to fault.
Skoda Octavia 2.0 TDI 4x4 estate
Price £22,390; 0-62mph 8.7sec; Top speed 132mph; Economy 57.6mpg; CO2 122g/km; Kerb weight TBC; Engine 1968cc, 4 cyls, turbodiesel; Power 148bhp at 3500-4000rpm; Torque 236lb ft at 1750-3000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual