The excellent – and familiar – range of VW Group engines available in the Skoda Octavia ensures a wide choice for buyers. The range starts with budget 79bhp 1.4 and 102bhp 1.6 petrol units, before heading into the familiar twin-charged TSI petrol engines. There’s a 104bhp 1.2 TSI, 120bhp 1.4 TSI and 150bhp 1.8 TSI. The petrol-powered vRS gets a 197bhp 2.0 TFSI engine. Diesels include a 104bhp 1.6 TDI and a 2.0 TDI with 108bhp, 138bhp and 168bhp for the oil-burning vRS.
With just 79bhp at your disposal in the entry-level model, it isn’t quite the turgid experience you might expect. The 98lb ft of torque makes for respectable performance, but it is easily flustered by inclines and takes an age to recover from slower-moving traffic in the top two ratios. At least it’s commendably quiet, even at high revs.
The 1.8 TSI engine is probably your best bet out of the petrols. It’s quiet and revvy and has lovely linear power and torque delivery with no flat spots. All 184lb ft is available from 1500rpm, so it has the springy poke of a diesel.
Elsewhere on the petrol front, the 1.4 is willing but it can sound rough at times, and you need to rev it to deliver any meaningful performance (0-62mph arrives in 9.7sec).
The real benefit of the 1.6 TDI engine is its refinement. The old 1.9-litre unit was characterised by a very gruff, intrusive engine noise and this new motor improves that dramatically – even in the Greenline model, which loses some of its sound proofing to save weight. The familiar 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel unit is also a respectable performer, particularly on a motorway run.
Outputs of 197bhp and 206lb ft in the petrol vRS translate to lag-free power at low revs and a top-end zeal that’s a world away from the flat power delivery of old vRS.