What is it?
A 4x4 version of the Skoda Octavia estate, and a car that we thought showed great potential when we drove it on foreign soil this time last year.
Although this 4x4 model is never likely to prove a volume seller in the UK, it's still likely to appeal to fans of the brand that need the extra all-weather capability.
Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, producing 148bhp and 236lb ft of torque, which is coupled to a six-speed manual gearbox.
Visually you wouldn't notice the 4x4 model is any different from the standard car, aside from a single badge at the rear and on the gear lever inside.
Underneath, 4x4 models get multi-link suspension alongside new electronic diff locks on both axles.
What's it like?
Perhaps it's a big compliment to say that, on the road at least and after an admittedly short drive, the answer is that it's exactly the same as the standard Octavia estate. Power delivery is smooth and swift, with the diesel's torque allowing the Octavia to accelerate from a standing start with some gusto.
The combination of a torquey engine and comfortable cabin means driving the Skoda estate is a largely pleasant experience, although engine noise can become an issue at speed. Its steering is light and accurate; drivers can also tailor the car's responses by selecting from Normal, Sport or Eco driving modes.
The economical 2.0-litre diesel further bolsters the Octavia's already impressive degree of practicality. With a storage capacity of 610 litres with the rear seats in place – rising to a gargantuan 1740 litres with the rear bench down – the Octavia estate has enough room inside to stow anything you might wish to carry.
Our test car was an SE specification model, the second grade in a range of four, yet it was still well equipped. Standard kit included 16-inch alloy wheels, a touchscreen infotainment system, DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity and a stop-start system.
Options fitted to our car included an upgraded sat-nav system and underbody protection, as well as a slightly increased ride height.
Should I buy one?
At £22,390 the 4x4-equipped 2.0-litre Octavia SE estate commands a £1450 premium over the standard car. It's ideal if you like the idea of being able to tackle fields and forest tracks without any bother.
It's also as refined a product as you might expect from VW Group and benefits further from impressive fuel economy and low CO2 emissions. Combine that with the enormous boot and comfortable cabin and this Octavia quickly marks itself out as a supremely practical family estate.
If you're not convinced by the Skoda's purported off-road credentials though, and want a more rugged version of the Octavia, then you won't have long to wait. The Octavia Scout is due in the UK this summer and offers significant upgrades and a fifth-generation Haldex all-wheel drive system.