Okay let’s state the obvious first – the Škoda Octavia is a great family car that offers class leading space at a reasonable price. The popular Škoda has sold in excess of 6.5m units and is the Czech brand’s best seller. It ranks highly in Ireland too, currently sitting at number 7 in the new car sales charts – ahead of its close relative the VW Golf! We’ve been testing the fourth generation Octavia during lockdown.
We first saw the five seat Octavia in the flesh at its global launch last year in Prague. The new car is longer, wider and features an even bigger boot (600 litres) making it the biggest compact car on the market by some margin. The Octavia is available in two body styles the ‘Limo’ (5 door ‘liftback’ saloon) and ‘Combi’ estate. Our test car is a high specced ‘Style’ Combi TDI diesel with a DSG (auto) gearbox. Its cargo area grows by 30 litres over the outgoing version to a massive 640 litres. The Combi estate with its rear seats down can hold a whopping 1,700 litres of cargo despite being the same length as the Limo. Estates in this class are loved across Europe (e.g. Ford Focus sells 50/50 estate to hatchback). Ireland has always been ‘estate-car-shy’ and when you factor in the rise of SUVs the Combi accounts for a relatively impressive 15% of Octavia sales.
Physical changes are fairly obvious with a new grille, panals and sharper body creases that wouldn’t look out of place on an Audi (VW Group’s more premium brand). New LED headlights (standard) and LED tail lights sharpen the exterior’s appearance. There are some new exterior paint colours too: crystal black, lava blue and titanium blue. Optional chrome and dynamic packs help further customise your choice. Skoda Badging is more prominently displayed in a Volvo-esq way.
Inside, the cabin has been decluttered. There are cleaner lines and a layered dash. An imposing digital centre touch screen display in out highly equipped test car catches the eye. Four infotainment systems are available with screens measuring from 8.25 to 10 inches. Škoda’s digital assistant “Laura” debuts in the Octavia. Our car has gesture control and a cool finger slider feature for the volume control. Lots of secondary controls are run through the screen and annoyingly the system takes a while to fire up and you can find yourself waiting for an age to get access to various functions. E.g. the navigation, air conditioning or heated seat button can test your patience although you can set the heated seats to come on automatically if the temperature is cold outside through the settings function. My only other niggle is the DSG gearbox is a bit dopey and if you want to make brisker progress you’ll need to stick it in ‘S’ more than ‘D’. The steering wheel is new also and on first glance looks like a three spoke but in fact is a two. The wheel features slick new thumb operated rotary scroll dials alongside conventional small buttons and together they allow access to up to 14 functions. Adjustable LED interior background lighting brings up the cabin quality to Audi-like standards. Other toys like a HUD head up display deliver a feeling of almost smug contentment to the driver. Our test car is a DSG (new ‘shift-by-wire’) that features a dinky little rocker-switch gear selector in the centre console (alongside steering wheel paddle shifters). Manual is still the preferred gearbox choice by some margin. The seats are improved and more back-friendly, there is even an optional massaging function and ventilated function.
Simply clever is a catch phrase used by the firm and there are many little gems about the place such as: such as smartphone storage pockets on the front seat-backs and new storage pockets under the load cover in the Combi. The umbrella and hand brush compartment in the front doors is a nice touch too. An optional sleep pack debuts with retractable sun blinds for the rear side windows to block out light. Another clever touch is the integrated funnel in the lid of the windscreen washer tank, and lets not forget the magnetic touch in the boot and ice scraper inside the fuel filler cap. Safety systems are plentiful wit new ADAS features such as collision avoidance assist, turn assist, exit warning and local traffic warning function also making its debut.
The engine range will be dominated by VW Group petrol and diesel units. Petrol is the preferred choice among Irish Octavia buyers (63%). The Octavia’s engine range covers from 110hp up to 245hp. The eTEC petrol engines variants (1.0L/1.5L) get 48-volt mild hybrid systems. A three cylinder 1 litre from VW is the core petrol engine. The TSI and TSI M-HEV mild hybrid (7-speed DSG) versions both push out 110hp/200nm with 5.4L and 5.3L/100km WLTP fuel consumption respectfully. The 1.5 TSI figures are 150hp/250nm. Two diesels are offered; a 1.6 TDI with 115hp/300nm and 2 litre TDI with 150hp. The diesels are from the latest EVO generation range that emit up to 80% less nitrogen oxide thanks to a new ‘twin dosing’ exhaust gas treatment. The 2 litre has an average fuel consumption figure of 4.6L/100km (61.4mpg). A 1.4 litre plug in hybrid Octavia iV will be available for the first time in the coming months – developing 204hp/350nm. It’s electric motor uses a 13kWh rechargeable battery and has a maximum electric only range of 55km (WLTP). A natural gas CNG G-Tec is also being built but unlikely to come to Ireland. Enthusiastic drivers will like the optional dynamic chassis control that now has slider controls within the different driving modes, allowing changes to individual suspension, damping and steering parameters. A high performance 245hp/400nm ‘vRS’ plug in hybrid model is due also with a 0-100km/h time of 7.3 seconds – top speed is 225 km/h.
The grades are: Active (16” alloys), Ambition (17”) and Style (18”). Limo pricing starts from €23,950 (Active manual) and €25,450 for the Combi Active manual. Our test car had a base price of €36,750, but with added optional extras like Matrix LED headlights at €1,341 the price tag added up to a cool €43,198. The estate is circa €1,500 more than the Limo Octavia. A more rugged and capable all wheel drive ‘Scout’ variant is perhaps the perfect Octavia Combi. The Octavia ticks all the boxes, but note if you’re after a comfy ride don’t go too big on the wheel size.