From £15,9508
New tech and mild tweaks make the Skoda Octavia as recommendable as ever. Just don’t expect to fall in love

Our Verdict

Skoda Octavia

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

What is it?

Facelifts, of any sort, are rarely successful. Whether it's sagging skin or ageing car design that's being given a refresh, while rolling back the years is clearly the aim, look closer, and you’ll usually find that attempts to smooth things over have only made matters worse.

There may be a few exceptions out there (answers on a postcard please), but to these eyes at least, the new Skoda Octavia isn’t one of them. Its manufacturer says the new look gives the Octavia a greater impression of width, but we’re not convinced. From a distance, it just looks like the LED running lights are broken.

We really shouldn’t moan, though. The new schnoz might be the most noticeable change but it’s far from the most important. More pressing is that the Octavia's track width has been increased at the back to improve stability and more safety kit is available including blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert and predictive pedestrian protection. Try saying that last one three times in a hurry.

Inside there’s a new centre console that houses one of two infotainment systems. Even Billy-basic S models get an 8.0in touchscreen that can be optioned with sat-nav (standard on SE Tech and SE L). Opt for posh Laurin & Klement trim and you get a 9.2in screen as standard. 

What's it like?

The Octavia was always a perfectly pleasant car to drive, and wisely, Skoda hasn’t monkeyed with the formula. Let’s start with the steering, which might not telegraph minute detail to your fingertips, but has spot on weighting and makes placing the nose easy. Likewise, the gearbox may not be a mechanical-feeling delight, but its action is both light and precise.

Adaptive dampers are optional but our test car came with the standard passive units. These seem valved for comfort rather than outright body control, allowing some float over crests. Chuck the Octavia into a corner and you’ll find there’s a fair bit of body roll but also a tonne of grip. It might be safe and secure, but you can still carry plenty of speed cross-country.

The larger-than-standard 18in wheels of our steed certainly help stick it to the road, but there is a penalty. Drive over crumbling roads and the Octavia fidgets and patters. While our experiences of the pre-facelift model suggest smaller rims don’t sort things fully, they do help by a noticeable amount. We’d also like to try the adaptive dampers, as they do help on the Kodiaq.

Aside from the vRS versions that we’ll be reviewing later in the week, there are no changes under the bonnet. The 2.0 TDI in our test car gives brisk if unexciting performance but majors on refinement. Its hushed idle and cruising manners are better than many small executive cars we can think of and it even stays fairly quiet under hard acceleration.

That’s not all you’ll appreciate inside; you still get a fantastically well-judged interior with quality materials in the areas you interact with most and plenty of storage. The new infotainment systems are a definite step forwards, though. It’s unlikely you’ll find any lag when flicking through the menus, the icons are big enough to hit on the move and the graphics are sharp.

If you prefer touchscreens to rotary controllers, there’s not much to beat Skoda’s system at this price point. There’s also an additional bonus point for Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Mirrorlink all being standard on every single Octavia. Our only real complaint is that the far left of the screen can be a stretch if you’re short of stature.

Move rearwards and you’ll find that it’s business as usual. As one of the bigger cars in its class, there’s loads of legroom and good headroom, too. While some rivals may have caught up on rear passenger space, none have yet matched the ginormous boot. Yes, the load lip could be lower but there’s no arguing with the Octavia’s cargo capacity.

Should I buy one?

If you’re looking for a seriously sensible yet quality-feeling car with lots of space at a reasonable price, then the Octavia really is hard to beat. It almost manages a Golf-like air of quality whilst being cheaper and more spacious. If you’re doing plenty of miles, then the 2.0-litre TDI has a great balance of pace and frugality, too.

What you won’t get is excitement. The Octavia is certainly competent on the road, but it never feels like it enjoys going quickly, more something it puts up with. Is that a problem? Well, that’s something only you can answer.

Skoda Octavia 2.0 TDI 150 SE L

Location South Wales Price £23,365; On sale now; Engine Four cylinder, 1968cc, turbodiesel; Power 148bhp at 3500-4000rpm; Torque 251lb ft at 1750-3000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1352kg; 0-62mph 8.4sec; Top speed 135mph; Economy 65.7mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 113g/km, 24% Rivals Ford Focus 2.0 TDCi, Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI

Join the debate

Comments
11

3 April 2017
Discerning Skoda drivers (below vRS level) will have no interest in "chucking the car into a corner".
I've driven 2 pre-facelift Octavias and found them delightful, perhaps value and substance are a better criteria for assessing the car rather than whether "you'll fall in love" with it?
Red Squirrel

3 April 2017
I would say that the Focus Mk2 facelift was a fairly significant visual improvement. The pre-facelift version was bland, cautious and looked old before its time in my opinion. I think the facelift gave it a more youthful appearance which suited the shape of the car, rather than looking like a grandparent holding a new iPhone.

4 April 2017
An utter disastrous facelift this.

Successful facelifts:
Mercedes W114 / W115 - a wider more three-dimensional grille replaces the original flat grille,
Mercedes W111 280SE 3.5 coupe / convertible - again a shorter wider grille,
Jaguar XJ from series 2 to series 3

4 April 2017
There you go. The fidget and patter over broken surfaces. I bet it wouldn't happen on a Golf or A3 with independent rear suspension and higher end dampers. One of the sacrifices you make for driving at the budget end of VWAG.

4 April 2017
" It almost manages a Golf-like air of quality "

Not this load of old pony again - the VW Golf's "air of quality" is not borne out in its overall reliability. Anyone who doubts this ought to take a look at Honest John's website where the MK6 Golf was their most complained about car with a multitude and myriad of faults - and this is from genuine owners, not company car user choosers, or journalists enjoying a jolly at the expense of the car companies.

4 April 2017
" It almost manages a Golf-like air of quality "

Not this load of old pony again - the VW Golf's "air of quality" is not borne out in its overall reliability. Anyone who doubts this ought to take a look at Honest John's website where the MK6 Golf was their most complained about car with a multitude and myriad of faults - and this is from genuine owners, not company car user choosers, or journalists enjoying a jolly at the expense of the car companies.

4 April 2017
odie_the_dog wrote:

" It almost manages a Golf-like air of quality "

Not this load of old pony again - the VW Golf's "air of quality" is not borne out in its overall reliability. Anyone who doubts this ought to take a look at Honest John's website where the MK6 Golf was their most complained about car with a multitude and myriad of faults - and this is from genuine owners, not company car user choosers, or journalists enjoying a jolly at the expense of the car companies.

Read most VAG forums and it paints a completely different picture of actual ownership of one of the brands vehicle.

Problem is - VAG is now a mass producer of vehicles, customer expectations of one is of quality and reliability. They have had to produce cars that drive well now, which they seem to if caught up on, and still have a quality look and feel - so somewhere something has to give to mass produce and do so at minimal cost. This appears to be actual quality as opposed to be perceived and reliability and quality of parts used. It's the bits you don't see that seem to hugely let them down.

It was a different story in the 80's and 90's when VW vehicles were well engineered and reliable.

The MK5 Golf was probably the last of the goodb VW's - where the balance was probably right of driving, reliability and quality.

4 April 2017
Whilst it may be true that restyling a car part way through its model cycle often does not improve the look it usually has the advantage of fixing any underlying mechanical gremlins.

Hence early adopters often get a worse product then those prepared to wait.

4 April 2017
.... and the lights are awful.

I will wait for the next version/facelift before replacing my beloved Octavia VRs ( petrol of course)

Steam cars are due a revival.

4 April 2017
The headlights are appalling, absolutely horrible. It could do with a bit of colour inside. Other than that I don't see much to complain about.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left

 

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lexus LC500
    Car review
    20 October 2017
    Futuristic Lexus LC coupé mixes the latest technology with an old-school atmospheric V8
  • Maserati Levante S GranSport
    First Drive
    20 October 2017
    Get ready to trade in your diesels: Maserati’s luxury SUV finally gets the engine it’s always needed
  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK