Simple, rational, value-packed appeal has, to date, driven the sale of more than six million examples of the Skoda Octavia since the modern iteration of the car was introduced in 1996.
Even after the swelling of the Czech company’s model range with city cars, crossovers and a seven-seat SUV in recent years, this practical, sensible family liftback, together with the related estate version, remains the keystone around which its maker’s growth has been built over the past 25 years. It has, at times, accounted for as much as a third of all the cars made at Skoda’s Mladá Boleslav factory all on its own.
The arrival of the fourth generation of the Octavia, which we’re testing this week in estate form, is therefore big news in both Prague and wider Volkswagen Group circles. And for a car that has consistently had a flavour of functionality-first understatement done so studiously that, at times, it has smacked strongly of blandness, there is now a slight change of tack.
In line with Skoda’s strategy of making smarter, bolder, more upmarket and more desirable cars and, in doing so, gradually shifting the perception of its brand into pseudo-premium territory, the model anchored at the very centre of its business is moving that way, too, in ways we’ll lay out in more detail very shortly.
The Octavia Estate line-up at a glance