What is it?
This is the facelifted Skoda Octavia 4x4 1.8 TSI estate, fitted with the latest Haldex four-wheel drive system - the same one you'll find in cars such as the Audi TT.
Four-wheel drive accounts for just four per cent of Skoda UK’s sales, but in countries like Austria, Switzerland and Italy it is much more significant.
The Skoda Octavia’s facelift is mild – new lights front and rear, a new grille, some nice new colours and an interior upgrade that adds the Superb’s wheel, climate control and touch-screen infotainment system. The Skoda Octavia 4x4 also gets raised ground clearance, toughened suspension and underbody protection.
What’s it like?
Despite the slightly higher level of glitz gained by adding bits of Superb and making the lights a bit smarter, the Skoda Octavia still looks and feels like one of the most eminently practical and useful cars you can buy.
The new Haldex system effortlessly smoothes out the swap of torque from front to rear – you can feel the change as the rear begins to grip, but it’s seamless and it doesn’t suddenly snap the traction back on. On the icy roads of northern Sweden the car never felt out of shape or wobbly – you barrel along with real security.
The diesels - the 1.9 and 2.0-litre TDIs have VW’s effective if loud Pumpe Duse injection - are not as refined as more modern common-rail units, but they’re punchy and frugal.
The nicest engine for the Skoda Octavia 4x4 is the 1.8 TSI petrol. It’s quiet, revvy, and has lovely linear power and torque delivery with no flat spots. All 184lb ft is available from 1500rpm, so it has the springy poke of a diesel.
Should I buy one?
Yes. With the Facelifted Skoda Octavia you’re still getting the same solid, capacious estate with a slightly smarter interior – which is a reason in itself to buy one.
You probably don’t need to pay the extra for the four-wheel drive, but if you do live in a field on top of a hill or somewhere it snows a lot, an Octavia 4x4 would be a fine thing to own.
All-wheel drive suits the car’s character perfectly, and the Haldex system is utterly fuss-free. Unless you really want a diesel, we’d recommend the 1.8-litre petrol unit – it’s smooth, refined and punchy. And it manages 40mpg.