Road Test: Škoda Octavia
Škoda’s lower-medium favourite gets a distinctive new look. Martyn Collins takes it for a drive.
Different is good, and that is the best way to describe this latest Škoda’s new styling. It might follow the current
family style from the Volkswagen Group’s Czech arm, but the fourth-generation version of its lower-medium model is by far its most distinctive yet.
At the front, the chrome-edged grille dominates, while the sharp creases down the flanks are very clean and almost look like they are borrowed from its sister Audi brand. More sharp angles at the rear complete the look and there is also a more conventional-looking
estate version available from launch too. Octavia trim levels begin with the SE First Edition, priced from £20,965. This entry-level trim includes 16-inch alloy wheels LED head and tail-lights metallic paint and 10.25-inch Virtual Cockpit Display. SE Technology, priced from £21,215, looks to be the key model for fleet with all the SE kit, plus additional satellite navigation and on-line entertainment. SE-L is the Octavia range-topper, priced from £24,745 and includes 17-inch alloy wheels, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, plus and electrically adjustable driver’s seat. All Octavias benefit from Škoda’s ‘Simply Clever’ features, with items such as a windscreen ice scraper fitted inside the fuel flap. Options include a head-up display which projects speed, navigation and road sign details on to the screen.
The inside is another step forward, with this Škoda getting its own style compared to its Volkswagen and SEAT sister cars. Like the Golf and Leon (also driven in this issue) before it, much of the switchgear has been replaced by the touchscreen infotainment display, with some neat piano-key style short-cuts below the screen. However, the system still isn’t the easiest to use. Another interesting interior feature is the two-spoke steering wheel with its chromed scrollers. It might look like it is missing a spoke, but works well on the move, giving a more uncluttered view of the instruments and can even be heated. With the steering wheel, trim and metal highlights such as the door handles, there is a real feel that quality has moved up a notch.
Always one of the more spacious models in the lower-medium sector, but with 67mm more space between the wheels of the MQB platform, the Octavia is the most roomy of the Volkswagen Group Golf-class rivals in the back. There is a massive, practical 600-litre boot underneath the hatch too, versus Volkswagen and SEAT’s 380. Choose the Octavia estate and the boot space jumps again to 640-litres with the seats up, and 1,700 litres with them folded – although estate rivals are much closer in terms of space. Škoda engine choices start with the 108hp, 1.0-litre petrol, but most fleet drivers will go for the 148hp, 1.5 TSI, with WLTP Combined consumption of 50.7mpg and CO2 emissions from 127g/km. There are also 114hp, and 148hp 2.0-litre TDi diesels, with 65.4mpg and 62.1mpg Combined consumption and 113g/km and 119g/km CO2 emissions.
On the road, the Octavia’s driving position is comfortable, and the 1.5 TSI engine feels more than willing although, like the SEAT Leon, the six-speed manual transmission could be smoother. Handling is best described as surefooted and tidy, Škoda says that more engines will be added as the range expands throughout the remainder of this year. These include a range of iV plug-in hybrids, which will encompass the sportiest vRS models, plus e-TEC mild hybrid versions, all for the first time. The iV hybrid is powered by a 1.4 TSI engine combined with an electric motor, giving an electric-only range of 37 miles.
New Octavia adds distinctive looks, more space, and a higher quality feel to the interior, to what has always been a popular and proven fleet package.
Key Fleet Model: 1.5 TSI SE Technology
Strengths: Rear space and boot space, standard equipment
Weaknesses: Infotainment is difficult to use
Fleet World Star Rating