From £15,9508
Aside from its unfortunate new split headlights, the new Skoda Octavia hasn't really changed a bit. And that's a good thing

Our Verdict

Skoda Octavia

Skoda’s practical and spacious family hatchback takes a step up in size

Nic Cackett
8 February 2017

What is it?

Skoda likes to bill the Skoda Octavia - its biggest selling model in the UK, and a range mainstay for the last two decades - as its backbone. Having received wholesale surgery in 2013, the brand settles for a much more modest manipulation of the latest version; a chiropractic tweak of the styling, interior, infotainment and equipment levels.

The mechanicals, then, are essentially the same, meaning you get the same generous 2686mm wheelbase, the same basic choice of hatchback or estate and a familiar engine line-up initially consisting of two petrol units (the 1.0-litre and 1.4-litre TSI) and two diesels (the 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre TDI).

There will be new Scout and vRS models too (with additional, spicier petrol and diesel variants), but they'll come a little later. For now, we’ll focus on the minutia of the cooking options, available in the now timeworn S, SE, SE Technology, SE L and Laurent & Klement trim levels, and costing from £17,055.

The good news for bargain hunters is the standard-to-all-models adoption of the latest infotainment system, the upgrade bringing with it not only a better class of touchscreen, but also a SmartLink software upgrade that makes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto available at entry-level.

Most UK buyers will leapfrog that prospect, though, and plump for either the SE or SE Technology. The latter gets the desirable sat-nav and wi-fi hotspot capacity that marks it out as our range pick – although the range-topping Laurent & Klement is still distinguished by an uprated 9.2in display and Canton sound system. 

What's it like?

Enjoying the Octavia’s material gains requires any would-be owner to first pole vault the elephant on the driveway; specifically the new and subjectively unsatisfying styling rethink enacted on the front end. Bisecting the front headlights is plainly Skoda’s idea of injecting some dynamism into the model’s largely benign appearance – but it fails in much the same way Mercedes-Benz's W212 E-Class floundered, making the nose look oddly proportioned and fussy.

Inside, where the dashboard has been gently remodeled to accept the new infotainment display, there is no such imbalance. The previous Octavia was at the forefront of Skoda’s march into Volkswagen’s old sensible-shoes stomping ground, and it remains very well laid-out and tidily finished. The touchscreen, at least in the larger format tested, is a glossy one-piece affair, shedding its physical shortcut buttons for a mostly intuitive on-screen menu system and fairly zippy functionality.   

Its slick new convenience suits the Octavia well. This, after all, is the C segment in its most level-headed and user-friendly format. The car shares its front-drive MQB platform with a raft of other similar-sized options, but its wheelbase is 50mm longer than a Volkswagen Golf’s – a structural variation that plainly contributes to the earnest and eminently straitlaced driving style engineered into the Octavia. The introduction of an additional 20mm of rear track width only nails on the sensation: the Skoda standard-bearer steers, rides and handles with a fastidiousness that’s almost impossible to tire of - or develop any lasting affection for.

The shortfall in vitality is hardly made up for in the engine bay: the 113bhp 1.6-litre TDI and 148bhp 1.4-litre TSI tested are amenable, discreetly tractable and ultimately nondescript choices, (the former lacking the sixth gear it desperately needs on the motorway; the latter not quite living up to its peak output billing). But the Octavia is so adept at tuning you into its methodical frequency that it almost seems churlish to complain given the lack of effort you’re expending. 

Should I buy one?

There are few more placid or well-engineered ways of demolishing a long journey; nor are there many which offer superior value or practicality either. The new Octavia is probably better with optional adaptive dampers fitted and the larger touchscreen aboard (and therefore perhaps more likeable in higher trim levels with the more powerful engines) but, truth be told, it occupies the same place in our affection as it ever did, even with gawky lights. Mr Dependable then, to a four-star tee. 

Skoda Octavia 1.6 TDI SE LLocation Porto; On sale Now; Price £22,485; Engine 4cyl, 1598cc, turbocharged, diesel; Power 113bhp at 3250rpm; Torque 184lb ft at 1500rpm; Gearbox Five-speed manual; Kerb weight 1230kg; Top speed 126mph; 0-62mph 10.1sec; Economy (combined) 67.3mpg; CO2/BIK tax band 109g/km, 21% Rivals Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra

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Comments
25

8 February 2017
It always bugged me that they haven't bothered to mirror the centre console between the seats for right hand drive variants. That handbrake is so clearly optimised for LHD. I hope they've addressed this in the facelift. Seat Leon also guilty of this.

9 February 2017
I've got the Leon. But often do you use the handbrake on a journey now? Standard hill assist means no need on hill starts so really only when you finally park. Unless you're handbraking around every corner on the way to work like a boss.....?

 

 

 

9 February 2017
haha. No I'm not doing any handbrake turns. but i do use it a lot in the dark to avoid dazzle for the person behind me. The Passat i had had an auto hold but that kept the brake lights on. In the Octavia and Leon i don't even find it hard to use, it's just the corporate laziness of not changing it for our rhd market. I guess the majority of these are lhd.

8 February 2017
do not get this 1.6 engine will be going out of production and not replaced ,VW have just scrapped off the new 1.5 diesel in development we have this engine in a golf ,crap it is certainly.

jer

9 February 2017
Ever gets 4*. Headlights are hike a show car of the future from the 70s.

9 February 2017
£22,485 with a woeful Diesel engine.
You can do so much better than that and avoid such a dull car with a hideous front end e.g. Civic 1.0 then you'd have matching hideous front and rear ends.
On a more serious note how about a Jetta GT for the same money with the brilliant 1.4 COD engine way way way quicker and better on fuel economy in my experience. Or for £1,500 LESS the 1.4TFSI Jetta SE, £750 on bling and you'll still better off and have a decent petrol engine.

Bring on the vRS it's the only one that makes sense

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

9 February 2017
xxxx wrote:

On a more serious note how about a Jetta GT for the same money with the brilliant 1.4 COD engine way way way quicker and better on fuel economy in my experience. Or for £1,500 LESS the 1.4TFSI Jetta SE, £750 on bling and you'll still better off and have a decent petrol engine.

So you're the person who bought a Jetta? because nobody else in the UK seems to have.

It may have escaped your attention but the Octavia is a spacious 5door hatch, the Jetta a 4 door saloon. And if the 1.6tdi engine is so bad (it returned 60mpg in my 2011 Golf), then why not specify that 1.4tsi in the Octavia?

And speaking of the Mk6 Golf I bought in 2011, do you realise the interior on the current 2017 Jetta is still based on the mk6 Golf? The Mk7 Golf has been out for 4 years but VW still hasn't updated the interior of the Jetta! There's a reason why they don't sell.

9 February 2017
scotty5 wrote:
xxxx wrote:

On a more serious note how about a Jetta GT for the same money with the brilliant 1.4 COD engine way way way quicker and better on fuel economy in my experience. Or for £1,500 LESS the 1.4TFSI Jetta SE, £750 on bling and you'll still better off and have a decent petrol engine.

So you're the person who bought a Jetta? because nobody else in the UK seems to have.

It may have escaped your attention but the Octavia is a spacious 5door hatch, the Jetta a 4 door saloon. And if the 1.6tdi engine is so bad (it returned 60mpg in my 2011 Golf), then why not specify that 1.4tsi in the Octavia?

And speaking of the Mk6 Golf I bought in 2011, do you realise the interior on the current 2017 Jetta is still based on the mk6 Golf? The Mk7 Golf has been out for 4 years but VW still hasn't updated the interior of the Jetta! There's a reason why they don't sell.

Oh I forgot that YOUR 1.6 Diesel Golf returned 60mpg, I should have thought about that.
"spacious 5door hatch" the Octavia is only 11mm longer!
Shame you don't like other people's sharing opinions and options.
Oh and you forgot to mention the new Honda PETROL comparison regarding VFM.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

9 February 2017
It aint about length you fool, its about wheelbase, thats what makes it more spacious, I thought everyone new basic stuff like that. Scotty5 may like diesels, not everyone hates em like you.

10 February 2017
typos1 wrote:

It aint about length you fool, its about wheelbase, thats what makes it more spacious, I thought everyone new basic stuff like that. Scotty5 may like diesels, not everyone hates em like you.

Yea every Jetta/Octavia is obsessed with wheel base as it makes parking that much easier. Why do think they tell you exterior dimensions in every mag review.
p.s. I don't hate diesels just blind idiots who think they're better in every way to petrol. Read my other posts instead of holding grudges because I've made you look a fool in the past.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

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