What is it?
It’s the third-generation Skoda Octavia, the ever-popular family hatch which the Czech manufacturer confidently believes will break into the top 10 global best-sellers when sales of this all-new version get up to speed later this year.
Designed to appeal to car buyers regardless of whether they dwell in Beijing or Bromsgrove, the new Octavia majors on practicality by offering cavernous interior space and some clever design touches, and all for a competitive price – even if Skoda is by no means the budget brand it once was.
With the recently released Skoda Rapid now slotting into the range beneath the Octavia, this car – based on the longer-wheelbase version of the VW Group's modular MQB platform – has grown in size to accommodate its new sibling in Skoda’s product range.
Compared to the outgoing model, the new Octavia is 90mm longer, 45mm wider and has a wheelbase that is 108mm longer. Skoda is proud of the fact that its models often blur car class boundaries, and the Octavia is no exception. The company claims it has interior space comparable to a model from the next class up: the total interior length is 1782mm and the seats-up boot capacity is a cavernous 590 litres. By comparison, a Ford Mondeo’s is 528 litres.
Despite the car’s growth spurt, Skoda maintains that the Octavia’s key rivals remain the Volkswagen Golf, Vauxhall Astra and Ford Focus. However, it is not hard to imagine the keenly priced and well equipped Octavia turning the heads of car buyers looking at vehicles in the Mondeo class.
Late last year we got an early drive in a Skoda Octavia 1.8 TSI DSG SE Plus, but that petrol variant won’t be coming to Britain when the Octavia goes on sale in March. Instead we’ll get two smaller petrols – a 1.2 TSI and 1.4 TSI – and a brace of diesels.
A 1.6 TDI is likely to be a popular seller, but here we get our hands on the oilburning range-topper, the Octavia 2.0 TDI, equipped with the DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox and in the top Elegance trim.