The key ingredients for the Skoda Octavia will be familiar – they are also used in the Mk5 VW Golf, the previous-generation VW Passat and the Audi A3, among others. Suspension is by MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link independent system at the rear; the steering is rack and pinion with electro-hydraulic speed-sensitive power assistance; and there are disc brakes all round.
Although the raw ingredients are excellent, the finished product doesn’t look quite as appetising as its VW and Audi siblings. The Octavia saloon and estate look discreetly prestigious, slickly executed and well finished, with a very high standard of manufacture evident in the shutlines and paint, but it’s unlikely to garner much of a reaction from other road users or passers-by. For some, of course, that is much of its appeal.
So given the popularity of the previous model, it’s no surprise to learn that the new Octavia is an evolution of the old. The styling could have been plucked from the same mould. The bold, slightly pompous grille is in keeping with the company’s new-found confidence, but the simple angles and prominent shoulder lines are instantly recognisable.
The rear overhang has been extended so that a three-box profile can be combined with hatchback versatility. It’s in keeping with Skoda’s promise of offering ‘an extra bit of car’ for the same price as its more compact competitors. This is an admirable policy, but the bulbous boot looks ungainly and the rear elevation is also Euro-anonymous, despite the signature C-shaped tail lamps.
The overall shape has more presence than its predecessor and has aged well, but its maturity also means that it is less likely to appeal to a younger audience. Whereas the Golf is ageless, the Octavia is self-consciously a car for an older customer. Not that this has hampered Skoda’s bid for conquest sales.