Four-wheel-drive Skoda Octavia offers additional off-road ability and on-road security, which only adds to the virtues of this practical family estate

What is it?

A 4x4 version of the Skoda Octavia estate, and a car that we thought showed great potential when we drove it on foreign soil this time last year.

Although this 4x4 model is never likely to prove a volume seller in the UK, it's still likely to appeal to fans of the brand that need the extra all-weather capability.

Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, producing 148bhp and 236lb ft of torque, which is coupled to a six-speed manual gearbox.

Visually you wouldn't notice the 4x4 model is any different from the standard car, aside from a single badge at the rear and on the gear lever inside.

Underneath, 4x4 models get multi-link suspension alongside new electronic diff locks on both axles.

What's it like?

Perhaps it's a big compliment to say that, on the road at least and after an admittedly short drive, the answer is that it's exactly the same as the standard Octavia estate. Power delivery is smooth and swift, with the diesel's torque allowing the Skoda Octavia to accelerate from a standing start with some gusto. 

The combination of a torquey engine and comfortable cabin means driving the Skoda estate is a largely pleasant experience, although engine noise can become an issue at speed. Its steering is light and accurate; drivers can also tailor the car's responses by selecting from Normal, Sport or Eco driving modes.

The economical 2.0-litre diesel further bolsters the Octavia's already impressive degree of practicality. With a storage capacity of 610 litres with the rear seats in place – rising to a gargantuan 1740 litres with the rear bench down – the Octavia estate has enough room inside to stow anything you might wish to carry.

Our test car was an SE specification model, the second grade in a range of four, yet it was still well equipped. Standard kit included 16-inch alloy wheels, a touchscreen infotainment system, DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity and a stop-start system.

Options fitted to our car included an upgraded sat-nav system and underbody protection, as well as a slightly increased ride height.

Should I buy one?

At £22,390 the 4x4-equipped 2.0-litre Skoda Octavia SE estate commands a £1450 premium over the standard car. It's ideal if you like the idea of being able to tackle fields and forest tracks without any bother.

It's also as refined a product as you might expect from VW Group and benefits further from impressive fuel economy and low CO2 emissions. Combine that with the enormous boot and comfortable cabin and this Octavia quickly marks itself out as a supremely practical family estate.

If you're not convinced by the Skoda's purported off-road credentials though, and want a more rugged version of the Octavia, then you won't have long to wait. The Octavia Scout is due in the UK this summer and offers significant upgrades and a fifth-generation Haldex all-wheel drive system.

Skoda Octavia 2.0 TDI 4x4 SE estate

Price £22,390 0-62mph 8.7sec Top speed 132mph Economy 57.6mpg (combined) CO2 124g/km Kerb weight 1455kg Engine 4cyls, 1968cc, turbocharged diesel Power 148bhp at 3500-4000rpm Torque 236lb ft at 1750-3000rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual

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Einarbb 10 July 2014

Not about off roading ...

... but really handy if you live somewhere slippery conditions are very very common during winter time. And moreover you also to gain a car which tows more effectively. And not the least, is more stable when towing in rain or worse - when it snows.
bowsersheepdog 24 July 2014

going snowhere

Einarbb wrote:

... but really handy if you live somewhere slippery conditions are very very common during winter time. And moreover you also to gain a car which tows more effectively. And not the least, is more stable when towing in rain or worse - when it snows.

the two wheel drive version on winter tyres will cope better than the four wheel drive on standard tyres, as proven in the autocar vdeo with otherwise identical yetis.

bowsersheepdog 8 July 2014

the truth is in there

as the final paragraph wonders i'm definitely not convinced by purported off-road credentials. i cringed when i saw the words additional off-road ability in the headline. as someone who in my much younger days when i used to get about a bit was in the habit of taking a selection of golfs, a polo, a rover 216, a metro and even a simca 1000 down the loch- and lakeside tracks which carried on into the woods where the roads ended what i am convinced of is that ground clearance becomes an issue long before traction ever does. getting over exposed tree roots, through holes and up verges was of more concern than the likelihood of spinning wheels. i was more accepting of the bumps and bangs beneath me in those older, cheaper cars i drove back then than i would have been in subsequent years when i bought nearly new, before reverting to the borderline bangers i now own. i wouldn't envisage many owners of new twenty-odd grand estates being enthusiastic about regularly bottoming them out on tree roots. slightly more recently even my mark II mondeo slithered and scrabbled it's way out of a muddy field at the end of a festival with no greater difficulty than the shogun behind, possibly aided by the fact that it was on winter tyres despite it being august, but anyway it coped easily enough. i do actually quite like the concept of four-wheel drive in road cars though i have never owned one, but i don't see it as something which enhances off-road ability without considerable additional modifications elsewhere. such as suspension articulation and a low-ratio gearbox. as a performance feature, in conjunction with winter tyres to cope with severe weather, or as poster oilburner says to assist in towing, i think 4wd is an asset, but on it's own i don't see it as bestowing off-road talent.
Myk 7 July 2014

Dumbing Down

"...likely to appeal to those in need of space and traction"

As opposed to all those people needing 4x4 estates for other things?