What is it?
It’s the first 48V mild-hybrid (MHEV) offered by Skoda. Running the smallest engine in the fourth-generation Octavia - a 1.0-litre, turbocharged three-pot - it features an aluminium crankcase, variable-vane turbo and optimally balanced connecting rods.
As with all these sorts of mild-hybrid systems, the MHEV element is a belt-driven starter-alternator, using energy recovered during braking to top up a second battery. The extra juice powers things like power steering, letting the car coast with the engine off, and offers a smooth start/stop system.
In theory, it should prove more economical, but the 1.0 non-MHEV is only 1mpg and 1g/km less efficient, for a saving of about £2000. To be fair to Skoda, direct comparisons are hard. The e-TEC is dual-clutch automatic only, whereas the traditional engine is manual only: dual-clutch ’boxes weigh more and the WLTP test cycle punishes that. It’s good that Skoda is offering a mild-hybrid version, but you have to wonder for how much longer both variants will be available.
Back to the mild hybrid. Operating on the Miller injection cycle, which is meant to generate maximum torque 35% earlier than on a conventional Atkinson-cycle ICE, the 1.0-litre makes 108bhp and 148lb ft, exactly the same as its Volkswagen Golf and Seat Leon siblings.
With a 0-62mph time of 10.6sec in the estate, it won't produce the most dynamic set of figures you’ll see, but it’s comparable with rivals like the Hyundai i30 Tourer.
Running the smallest engine, this estate sits at the lower end of the Octavia price range. At £24,505 in our test car's middling SE Technology trim, with a whopping 640-litre boot and plenty of rear seat space, it's family motoring nearing its best value.
SE is split into various sub-categories, so you have the choice of SE, SE First Edition, SE Technology, SE L and SE L First Edition. At the top sit the vRS models. In the Technology one, you get 16in alloy wheels (that hopefully bodes well for the ride quality), 10.0in touchscreen with nav, Bluetooth, heated door mirrors, LED headlights, rear parking sensors and a digital instrument display. In other words, pretty much everything you actually need in a car.