There are things Skoda Octavia drivers want and there are things they don’t want. And one of the things they don’t want, by all accounts, is a handling package honed at the Nürburgring and a teeth-jarring ride as a result.
Instead, they want a car that steers with ease, rides with aplomb and leaves you feeling rested having driven it. True to form, that’s what they’ve got here. At 2.7 turns lock to lock, the Octavia steers with only modest briskness, but also with utterly predictable weight and respectable accuracy.
It holds a straight line with ease, and although a touch more positivity around the straight ahead wouldn’t hurt, the best thing you can say about the steering is that it doesn’t really enter your consciousness.
Ditto the rest of the driving experience. Seldom is there a jolt over a rough surface or a serious cabin intrusion from a motorway expansion joint. In fact, the Octavia is a perfectly acceptable A-road and motorway companion. Noise levels are low at idle and, thanks to the lengthy gearing, stay low at higher speeds.
It all contributes to making the Skoda a pretty tireless thing to pilot for mile after mile. But there are other family hatches that are just as comfortable as the Octavia while also managing to steer with finesse and handle with at least a hint of vigour, notably the Volkswagen Golf and Ford’s Focus.
So where does the Skoda fall on the scale? Near the bottom. Its handling is safe, predictable and tidy enough but there’s little here to inspire keen drivers.