The Octavia’s handling scorecard reads similarly to that for its performance: there’s enough competency to ensure that casual owners should rarely, if ever, have any negative feelings on the matter, but neither are they likely to have any positive revelations at the wheel.

In short, the car possesses very little in the way of dynamism beyond its ability to keep its body reasonably level and to go in the direction in which it’s pointed. The Octavia is therefore easy to drive but unrewarding, and its ability seems to largely stem from the underlying excellence of the MQB platform rather than any fine-tuning undertaken by Skoda. The Czechs can build cars that are satisfying to drive – anyone who drove the old Fabia or Octavia vRS models knows as much – but in the case of this car, the engineers’ priorities lay elsewhere, and understandably so.

Octavia’s dynamics won’t appeal to keen drivers, but it’s easy to drive and handles in a competent manner, while its rolling refinement and ride comfort are impressive

One thing is clear to us, though: that when it comes to steering, not all Octavias are created equal. This diesel estate steers with more conviction and heft than the inertly responsive rack of the 1.5-litre petrol hatch we’ve also driven. There’s no obvious reason why this might be, but the surprisingly serious Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres fitted to our diesel test car are unlikely to have done it any harm. These tyres also help give the chassis plenty of grip, and along with the reasonably even weight distribution, it means the Octavia will cover ground quickly if you need it to.

However, don’t expect it to feel cut from the same cloth as, say, an Audi A4 Avant on S line suspension. On this car’s passive suspension, it doesn’t take too much commitment to unearth a thoroughly unsporting degree of float and body roll, although the former is more noticeable than the latter.

Skoda’s vRS-badged performance models have in the past proved to be decently effective point-to-point machines, but the best we can say about this more anodyne example is that you’re unlikely to run into much trouble – or excitement – while you’re behind the wheel.

It lapped the Hill Route at Millbrook with exactly the sort of joyless stability you’d expect of a utilitarian estate, generating good grip from its Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres but with every direction change laced with some degree of understeer. Beyond the car’s natural meter, float then becomes an issue because of the soft springing, while the engine note becomes notably uncouth under load at higher revs.

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Overall, it’s enough to leave us convinced that anyone hoping for something quietly satisfying to drive should still look elsewhere.

Comfort and isolation

Even without the DCC adaptive dampers, you wouldn’t accuse the Octavia of coming up short on rolling comfort or refinement.

Compared with its MQB-based VW Group siblings, the Skoda feels notably more softly sprung. There’s an appealing pliancy to the manner in which it smooths over most compressions taken at speed, even if particularly deep dips can cause it momentarily to run out of travel and compress onto its bump stops.

The slightly firmer and more closely monitored Sport mode that DCC would inevitably bring would probably come in handy in such instances, but our testers agreed that the Octavia’s primary ride was fluid enough, when driven in a more relaxed fashion, to make DCC seem like an attractive option rather than an absolute necessity.

Progress at town speeds is also comfortable. The majority of ruts and bumps fail to send perilously forceful impacts in through the cabin, which is decently insulated against suspension thump, too. Coupled with seats that are nicely cushioned yet not lacking in support and decent all-round visibility, the Octavia makes for an eminently usable and comfortable daily driver.

Cabin refinement is good as well, even if the engine can come across as a shade gruff under load. With our road test microphone in hand, we recorded cabin noise at 69dB at 70mph – 1dB louder than we measured in the Mk8 Golf 1.5 eTSI 150 a few weeks back.

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