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.