For the practical-minded diesel Skoda owner, ‘performance’ plainly won’t mean the same as it might for someone who drives a Ford Focus ST estate. Our test car hauled itself to 60mph in 8.4sec, which is possibly quicker than you might have expected, but acceleration statistics and throttle response are, in the main, not that important here.
What matters is the car’s ability to waft down a motorway slip road and safely merge with fast-moving traffic, even with the mass of four passengers and their luggage aboard, when the kerb weight will have swelled to almost 1900kg. That and the capacity to execute A-road overtaking without the engine palpably straining as you make precariously lacklustre progress. The Octavia Estate doesn’t need to be fast per se, but it definitely shouldn’t feel slow, because these cars are about convenience and usability.
To this end, Skoda’s revised 2.0-litre diesel (it gets new conrods and pistons, although primarily in the interests of refinement, they claim) is endowed well enough on paper, with 266lb ft of torque available from 1600rpm. For context, the all-new Golf GTI develops only 7lb ft more, although, as you might expect, its power figure dwarfs the Octavia’s 148bhp.
But torque is what matters for this kind of car, and on the road there’s enough here to give the Octavia an easy-going flexibility in everyday driving. Relatively long gearing makes it plain where the engine’s propulsive strengths lie, and that is in the window between 1500rpm and 2800rpm, where there’s an adequate degree of urgency. The average owner is therefore rarely going to feel short-changed.
Equally, it doesn’t especially pay to stray beyond that region of crankshaft speed, which is something the dual-clutch automatic gearbox obviously knows, given that it will effortlessly upshift to keep the revs down.
Whether there’s less sound insulation in the car or the mapping is subtly different from that of the same engine in the Golf, under load the Octavia’s engine almost seems to yield more noise than it does acceleration. It isn’t outright uncouth – just not quite in keeping with Skoda’s increasingly upmarket pitch.