Currently reading: First drive: 2020 Skoda Octavia prototype
Any new version of Czech brand’s biggest selling model has to succeed. We get behind the wheel of some pre-production versions to see if it’s on the right track
News
5 mins read
29 October 2019

The fourth generation of the eminently sensible Skoda Octavia is quite an important car for the Czech firm.

Despite the seemingly unstoppable rise of the SUV, even within Skoda’s ranks, it’s the Octavia that is it’s bread and butter, and since its introduction it has accounted for around a third of the firm’s worldwide production. No pressure then.

We’re still a little way from seeing the car in the metal, but even so we were given the chance to drive a couple of disguised examples. Both were estates, with each being fitted with either a 2.0-litre TDI or a 1.5-litre petrol. There were also six-speed manual and seven-speed DSG transmission options.

Underneath the dazzling camouflage, the Octavia retains the familiar MQB platform, meaning it packs the same wheelbase and hardpoints. Still, the aerodynamics have been improved, by 14 percent, meaning this latest model slips through the air more easily, while the estate models more steeply raked rear screen and large roof spoiler give it very strong Volvo overtones when viewed from behind. Under the skin, the suspension and steering have been subtly massaged to deliver even greater comfort and sharper handling.

The biggest technical changes are reserved for the electrical architecture, which has been totally overhauled to allow the introduction of the latest driver aids. That means there’s now the availability of the latest Level 2 autonomous systems, which effectively combines lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control. Matrix LED headlamps are also an option, while the infotainment system has been heavily updated to include the latest connectivity - for example you can now update your preferences to the ‘cloud’ where they can be beamed to any other similarly equipped Skoda when you climb aboard. Neat.

Mechanically, the engines look familiar on the surface, but the 148bhp 2.0-litre TDI’s internals have been refreshed, including the use of new pistons and conrods. As ever, the changes have been wrought in the name of efficiency and cleanliness rather than power - a fact that’s highlighted by the revelation that the current entry-level 1.6-litre unit will be dropped in favour of a 115bhp version of this 2.0-litre. There will also be a 187bhp flagship, presumably for the vRS.

Speaking of other versions, once again the Octavia promises to have the broadest line-up on the brand’s books. Details are still sketchy, but on top of the cooking versions there will be the aforementioned vRS and a high-riding Scout, plus both plug-in and 48V mild hybrid models. There will also be a choice of two and four-wheel drivetrains, plus familiar hatchback and estate body styles.

Inside, the Octavia has taken another step upmarket. The cars we drove featured shrouded interiors, but a static display model revealed a classier design and greater use of premium materials. The end result looks good, but with its two-spoke wheel and wing-shaped dashboard treatment, the Skoda has more than a hint of previous generation Mercedes S-Class about it. While space for occupants hasn’t increased (it’s still one of the largest in the class), there’s more room for luggage, with the hatch featuring 600-litres and estate 640-litres, which are increases of 10 and 40-litres respectively. Curiously, the improvements come as much from the way the space is measured as any increase in size, Skoda now using the VDA method. So there you go.

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Skoda’s practical and spacious family hatchback takes a step up in size

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WHAT'S IT LIKE?

Our time behind the wheel was limited to a tightly controlled convoy that was driving at a brisk rather than breakneck pace, plus we weren’t allowed to fiddle with any of the driver modes (it was Normal all the way), but the choice of roads that rolled over and through the Tuscany hills provided a variety of different corners and surfaces for the car to contend with. Either way, the limited run was enough to confirm that there aren’t any radical changes here, but Skoda has taken an already accomplished machine and given a vigorous polish.

Skoda’s engineers have targeted increased refinement for the Octavia, and the 2.0-litre TDI is the engine that’s benefited most. Both the internal changes and the improved sound insulation have taken the edge of the clatter, the four-cylinder now working away unobtrusively. It also feels more energetic than it’s WLTP-strangled predecessor, responding crisply to the throttle and revving more keenly. Of course it does its best work in the mid-ranges, pulling with effortless muscle from less than 2,000rpm.

The 1.5-litre TSI petrol is the same EVO unit that’s already been seen in the VW Golf and Seat Ibiza. Featuring cylinder deactivation it’s a smooth and willing performer, matching the diesel for outright urge, if not low speed muscle. Yet it suits the Octavia nicely, it’s hushed delivery very much in keeping with the new models increased emphasis on comfort and refinement. 

Both the gearbox options were impressive too, the six-speed manual benefitting from a slick action and progressive clutch, while the DSG shuffled its ratios with the speed and smoothness of a Monte Carlo croupier.

And it’s this sense of plush refinement that defines the Skoda’s dynamics. The suspension works more discreetly now, even on these cars with their less sophisticated torsion beam rear (more powerful versions and the 4x4s will get a multi-link arrangement). Tweaks to the springs and dampers (engineers were cagey at this stage as to the exact changes) have resulted in a fraction more compliance, while there’s much less bump thump over sharper imperfections. In combination with the quieter mechanicals and lower wind noise it makes for hushed progress.

Point the Octavia through a series of corners and you’re in for a familiar display, as there’s the same assured poise we’ve become used to in MQB motors. The steering is precise and has a natural rate of response, while the beautifully integrated torque vectoring system ensures confidence inspiring front end bite. It’s not a car that’s dripping with feedback or that delivers the last word in razor sharp agility, but it handles nealty and flows down the road with an all-of-a-piece security. It’s a satisfyingly able machine that strikes a fine balance between handling and comfort.

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SHOULD I BUY ONE?

It’s too early to deliver our definitive verdict on the Octavia (we’ll have to drive production versions on UK roads for that), but initial impressions are good. Skoda has retained the existing machine’s impressive practicality, space and on-road manners, yet engineered in a welcome dose of refinement and technology. If Skoda manages to maintain its traditional value pricing, then the Octavia will represent a fine choice for those after a comfortable and sensible family runaround that’s satisfying to drive and loaded with the latest tech.

Skoda Octavia prototype specification

Where Tuscany, Italy Price TBC On sale 2020 Engine 4 cyls, 1968cc, turbocharged, diesel Power 148bhp Torque 251lb ft Gearbox 7-spd, dual-clutch automatic Kerb weight 1300kg (est) Top speed TBC 0-62mph TBC Fuel economy TBC CO2 TBC Rivals VW Golf, Ford Focus, Seat Leon

READ MORE

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First drive: 2020 Skoda Vision iV prototype

2020 Skoda Superb iV: plug-in hybrid pricing announced​

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pauld101 29 October 2019

Utter cr@p

I have an MQB Audi A3.  You can't use the door pockets without dislocating your wrist;  you can't open a front window without the side draft wrecking your inner ear; you haven't got a clock if youturn the Media/Nav/ICE off; I'm waiting for the heater matrix to fail; I'm waiting for the DSG to fail; the information sysem is ludicously over-complex; the nav system is illogical and impossible to operate; the ride is harsh; the handling poor; the braking is over-sensitive and is not progressive; the mixed metal body difficult and expensive to repair. The headlamps keep making you think you're being overtaken by a motorcycle on the inside and every time the mirrors deploy, I think there's a pedestrian in the road behind me.

And yet the road tests are all brilliant and can't fault this wonderful Audi.  Skoda will be identical.

xxxx 29 October 2019

pauld101 wrote:

pauld101 wrote:

I have an MQB Audi A3.  You can't use the door pockets without dislocating your wrist;  you can't open a front window without the side draft wrecking your inner ear; you haven't got a clock if youturn the Media/Nav/ICE off; I'm waiting for the heater matrix to fail; I'm waiting for the DSG to fail; the information sysem is ludicously over-complex; the nav system is illogical and impossible to operate; the ride is harsh; the handling poor; the braking is over-sensitive and is not progressive; the mixed metal body difficult and expensive to repair. The headlamps keep making you think you're being overtaken by a motorcycle on the inside and every time the mirrors deploy, I think there's a pedestrian in the road behind me.

And yet the road tests are all brilliant and can't fault this wonderful Audi.  Skoda will be identical.

My father in law had one too. He manage to get to front door pockets, no problem driving with front windows open, there's a clock on the DIS too, mixed metal body difficult to repair (get professionals to do it), he's 65 and has no problems with the sat nav. etc. 

Why wait for things to break?  Why did you get it

brauhut 29 October 2019

Its all relative - Im happy with Audi

Ive got an Audi Q7 (current model) and very happy. Dont really care what they write in any of the car magazines, but except for a few things (overloaded Navi, center console compartment is a cable killer, 3.0 TDI engine needs 1-2 sec to wake up when overtaking, and the spare part cost), Im happy. Seriously cant complain at all. 

 

Takeitslowly 29 October 2019

pauld101 wrote:

pauld101 wrote:

I have an MQB Audi A3.  You can't use the door pockets without dislocating your wrist;  you can't open a front window without the side draft wrecking your inner ear; you haven't got a clock if youturn the Media/Nav/ICE off; I'm waiting for the heater matrix to fail; I'm waiting for the DSG to fail; the information sysem is ludicously over-complex; the nav system is illogical and impossible to operate; the ride is harsh; the handling poor; the braking is over-sensitive and is not progressive; the mixed metal body difficult and expensive to repair. The headlamps keep making you think you're being overtaken by a motorcycle on the inside and every time the mirrors deploy, I think there's a pedestrian in the road behind me.

And yet the road tests are all brilliant and can't fault this wonderful Audi.  Skoda will be identical.

 

Another fool. You visited the showroom...NO, you took an extended test drive...NO, you asked incisive questions of the salesperson...NO. You got the car and now you whinge, whine and complain...YES. SERVES YOU RIGHT. NO DOUBT you have learned NOTHING and will repeat all the same errors. FOOL.

FM8 29 October 2019

Takeitslowly wrote:

Takeitslowly wrote:

pauld101 wrote:

I have an MQB Audi A3.  You can't use the door pockets without dislocating your wrist;  you can't open a front window without the side draft wrecking your inner ear; you haven't got a clock if youturn the Media/Nav/ICE off; I'm waiting for the heater matrix to fail; I'm waiting for the DSG to fail; the information sysem is ludicously over-complex; the nav system is illogical and impossible to operate; the ride is harsh; the handling poor; the braking is over-sensitive and is not progressive; the mixed metal body difficult and expensive to repair. The headlamps keep making you think you're being overtaken by a motorcycle on the inside and every time the mirrors deploy, I think there's a pedestrian in the road behind me.

And yet the road tests are all brilliant and can't fault this wonderful Audi.  Skoda will be identical.

 

Another fool. You visited the showroom...NO, you took an extended test drive...NO, you asked incisive questions of the salesperson...NO. You got the car and now you whinge, whine and complain...YES. SERVES YOU RIGHT. NO DOUBT you have learned NOTHING and will repeat all the same errors. FOOL.

Here we are again. All this hate! Where does it come from?
Is it from your childhood? Were you abused? Did Grandad offer you a bit more than a Werther's Original when he sat you on his knee? Were you beaten by your father? Are angry over the death of your mother? Did you never really get where you wanted to in your career, now that frustration has turned to hate and anger? Are you just one of life's oddballs, shy, no friends, just sitting behind a keyboard venting anger at others and watching way too much porn.
What is it, why all this?

WallMeerkat 30 October 2019

pauld101 wrote:

pauld101 wrote:

I have an MQB Audi A3.  You can't use the door pockets without dislocating your wrist;  you can't open a front window without the side draft wrecking your inner ear; you haven't got a clock if youturn the Media/Nav/ICE off; I'm waiting for the heater matrix to fail; I'm waiting for the DSG to fail; the information sysem is ludicously over-complex; the nav system is illogical and impossible to operate; the ride is harsh; the handling poor; the braking is over-sensitive and is not progressive; the mixed metal body difficult and expensive to repair. The headlamps keep making you think you're being overtaken by a motorcycle on the inside and every time the mirrors deploy, I think there's a pedestrian in the road behind me.

And yet the road tests are all brilliant and can't fault this wonderful Audi.  Skoda will be identical.

I have a 2013 MQB Octavia, so should be a similar car

Quote:

You can't use the door pockets without dislocating your wrist;

I can use the door pockets fine, they are even big enough to hold 2 litre bottles of frosty jack cider

Quote:

you can't open a front window without the side draft wrecking your inner ear;

Yes the window is noisy if you open it, but it's the same on any car I've ever driven

Quote:

you haven't got a clock if youturn the Media/Nav/ICE off;

If I turn my Bolero unit off it comes up with a gorgeous analogue clock. I also have a clock on the maxidot dashboard, which I use to display the speed.

Quote:

I'm waiting for the heater matrix to fail;

Why in particular? Only element of the cooling system I've had fail has been the water pump, the 1.6 tdi comes in a crate from VW so could be the same on a similar Audi. VW reliability....

Quote:

I'm waiting for the DSG to fail;

My DSG causes me suspicions sometimes to be fair. Taking off from a junction in D2 it'll rev like it's slipping, or if I quickly fire it into reverse to get into my driveway. I've been told that the D2 it's got D1 queued because I was slowing but is now trying to prepare D3. And I need to wait til it's fully stopped to slip into R - no J turns here. Again shipped in a crate from the reliable VW...

Quote:

the information sysem is ludicously over-complex;

 My SE has a Bolero, so maybe less advanced than those in Audis, but I don't think it's overly complex at all.

Quote:

the nav system is illogical and impossible to operate;

Can't judge, didn't do well enough at school to get a car with a sat nav. I use mobile apps which are kept up to date, free, and show traffic.

Quote:

the ride is harsh; the handling poor;

I've had no complaints, in fact anyone who gets a lift says it's comfortable. Its no Xantia by any means, but I find the ride fine. I would imagine the larger sports alloys and sports suspension of an Audi may have an affect. Handling wise its no sports car, but it does inspire confidence that it won't punt you into a ditch. I'm surprised that Audi - the sporty exec marque - has poor handling.

Quote:

the braking is over-sensitive and is not progressive; 

Don't notice that, but then I did once own a Xantia that had brakes that were on or off, you soon learn to feather the pedal unless emergency stopping.

Quote:

the mixed metal body difficult and expensive to repair.

Thankfully not had a need to find this out, though it does seem to pick up stone chips easily.

Quote:

The headlamps keep making you think you're being overtaken by a motorcycle on the inside

I'm not sure what this means. I wish the dipped beams were a little stronger, and I wish the interior had a Saab style night mode - the light from the radio seems to reflect off the silver backing of the gearstick.

Quote:

and every time the mirrors deploy, I think there's a pedestrian in the road behind me.

Mine doesn't have folding mirrors, think the mirrors are fine, standard VW units.

Citytiger 29 October 2019

Meanwhile in other news

The new SEAT Leon protype will be driven next week.. ;) 

 

Andrew1 29 October 2019

The 2.0 TDI had its internal

The 2.0 TDI had its internal software tweaked for the new emissions targets.
odie_the_dog 29 October 2019

AKA - the latest version of

AKA - the latest version of VAG "emission cheat" software.

Takeitslowly 29 October 2019

odie_the_dog wrote:

odie_the_dog wrote:

AKA - the latest version of VAG "emission cheat" software.

 

Any dog would be ashamed to have your base level of what passes for intelligence. EA...shouldn't require explaination if you know the auto industry...have proof positive, that VAG now produce among the cleanest diesel engines currently in use. EA is quoted widely by those who require to quote incontrovertible, unassailable, contradiction free information.

 

Let SLEEPING dogs lie.

FM8 29 October 2019

Takeitslowly wrote:

Takeitslowly wrote:

odie_the_dog wrote:

AKA - the latest version of VAG "emission cheat" software.

 

Any dog would be ashamed to have your base level of what passes for intelligence. EA...shouldn't require explaination if you know the auto industry...have proof positive, that VAG now produce among the cleanest diesel engines currently in use. EA is quoted widely by those who require to quote incontrovertible, unassailable, contradiction free information.

 

Let SLEEPING dogs lie.

VAG? Do you mean Volkswagen Group?

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