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
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.

Our Verdict

Skoda Octavia

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

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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.

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.

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

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Comments
17

29 October 2019
A hilarious attempt to suggest surprise and excitement.

It is just another MQB.

We know the engines.

We know the gearbox.

We know it has even less in common with the spirit of Skoda than the last one.

There are no surprises. None at all.

I would pity the journalists who have to write this stuff, if their refusal to criticise these things wasn't such a big part of the problem

29 October 2019
eseaton wrote:

A hilarious attempt to suggest surprise and excitement. It is just another MQB. We know the engines. We know the gearbox. We know it has even less in common with the spirit of Skoda than the last one. There are no surprises. None at all. I would pity the journalists who have to write this stuff, if their refusal to criticise these things wasn't such a big part of the problem

yo you niggit,

the old one only needed a face lift. this one looks insane

no more split lights ok!

29 October 2019
eseaton wrote:

A hilarious attempt to suggest surprise and excitement. It is just another MQB. We know the engines. We know the gearbox. We know it has even less in common with the spirit of Skoda than the last one. There are no surprises. None at all. I would pity the journalists who have to write this stuff, if their refusal to criticise these things wasn't such a big part of the problem

 

Autocar & Haymarket rely on VAG advertising or advertorial revenue.

29 October 2019

sad

29 October 2019
eseaton wrote:

A hilarious attempt to suggest surprise and excitement. It is just another MQB. We know the engines. We know the gearbox. We know it has even less in common with the spirit of Skoda than the last one. There are no surprises. None at all. I would pity the journalists who have to write this stuff, if their refusal to criticise these things wasn't such a big part of the problem

 

ANOTHER IDIOT. Did you read the article...yes...but not without the help of your exhausted carers. Did you UNDERSTAND the article...NOPE.

 

The below comments are direct QUOTES (look it up, get help mind) from the article...

 

emminently sensible

bread and butter

retains the familiar

aren't any radicle changes here

same EVO unit that's already been

you're in for a familiar display

satisfyingly able

retained the existing

maintain its traditional value pricing

and finally...

sensible family runaround

and you were supremely stupid enough to say "A hilarious attempt to suggest surprise and excitement"

So go on...where exactly has the journalist done anything that resembles your stupid accusation?. I have provided direct quotes that prove exactly the opposite, the effect that the journalist wished to convey.

 

You are a complete idiot, prove me wrong.

30 October 2019

What a beautiful dish washer!

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

29 October 2019

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

29 October 2019
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:

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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