A sensible, well specced car that easy to drive, spacious inside and good value all round

Introduction

That it is loved by cab drivers underlines its space, value and reliability mix, all those considerations just as relevant for your typical family car buyer.

Body Style: 5 door estate

Seats: 5

 MRP from £17,195-£28,845

 

Did you know? The Octavia Hatch’s boot has more volume than many estate cars in the same price category.

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Verdict 8.0 / 10

Sensible - yes. Dull - perhaps. But then the Skoda Octavia does everything asked of it so competently it’s difficult not to admire it. Good specifications help, as does an interior that a few years back wouldn’t have disgraced a premium car. Add the masses of space into the mix and the Octavia is difficult to ignore, though if we were buying we’d go the whole-hog and have it as an even more useful estate.

 
Design & Exterior 7/10
Interior & Comfort 7/10
Technology & Connectivity 8/10
Performance & Handling 6/10
Safety Features 7/10
Spec & Trim Levels 9/10
Running Costs & Fuel Economy 8/10
Pricing 8/10
Skoda Octavia

We Like

No-nonsense approach to family motoring.

Fine interiors, good standard equipment offering.

Economy is fine, the 1.0TSi is a surprisingly capable engine.

We Don't Like

The suspension could do with being a little bit more supple over bumps.

What were they thinking when they changed to those headlights?

Manual gearbox pretty heavily sprung.

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Design & Exterior 7/10

If the Octavia could be likened to crisps, it’d be Ready Salted. That’s to say it’s simple and familiar, and presents no surprises. No bad thing really, as while it’s difficult to be excited by the Octavia’s lines, neither is it likely to offend. Refreshed in 2017, Skoda did admittedly take something of a backwards step in that regard, adding some headlights which are more fussy than those on its predecessor.

Everywhere else it’s predictable Octavia, with neat, clean lines, simple detailing and a feeling of solidity and quality that’s become something of a Skoda hallmark. More expensive models gain a little bit more decoration via more chrome and larger alloy wheels, while sporting vRS models look and drive differently enough to be reviewed elsewhere here on Motor1.

Skoda Octavia

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Interior & Comfort 7/10

Remove the badges and you really could be forgiven for thinking you’re in a premium car such is the quality of the interior. Actually, a bit more scrutiny reveals we’re talking premium levels of say five years or so back, but that’s still impressive. That Skoda is able to deliver interiors that are near its VW parent, and a match and better than most of its mainstream rivals - in material quality and fit and finish only adds to the feeling of value that comes with buying one. 

That’s enhanced by the feeling of space, which again feels generous. Largely because it is, the Octavia’s cabin far more accommodating than just about anything else in its segment - only the Peugeot 308 comes close for boot space, and it falls way short for rear passenger space.

The Skoda's seats are supportive, the cushions firm and a fine driving position - thanks to plentiful adjustment - make it a car that you can sit in all day long without any complaints. Mind you, it's worth adding the £130 adjustable lumbar support to the front seats if you go for one of the lower-end models that don't get it as standard, and the front centre armrest is also worth the £205 it costs if you do a lot of motorway miles.

The layout of the cabin is equally simple and sensible, with easy to use controls, a large touchscreen in the centre dashboard and clear instruments ahead of you. 

Practicality

For ultimate practicality with an Octavia badge on it then you’ll want the estate, but the hatchback isn’t short on usefulness either. Indeed, its bootspace figures wouldn’t shame an estate car, and indeed do shame many rival’s estates, with 590 litres of capacity with the rear seats in place, or a whopping 1,580 litres with the rear seats folded. They do so easily, and while the backs don’t fold entirely flat, the rest of the boot space is usefully shaped and access via the large hatch opening is excellent.

There are lashing points in the boot floor, while there’s the option of a variable boot floor on entry-level models (it's standard on most trims). Other useful, inexpensive options include things like boot nets, rear tablet holders and even a waste bin that clips into the door cubby. Damn, those Czechs are so sensible that there’s even an ice scraper secreted in the fuel-filler door of all - so no more ruined bank cards on frosty mornings.

Skoda Octavia

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Technology & Connectivity 8/10

All Octavias come with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, DAB, Bluetooth connectivity and an SD card slot, USB connection and aux socket. All that is controlled by an 8-inch touchscreen display positioned in the centre of the dashboard. The technology mix is good even in the base S model, then, though obviously there’s the opportunity to add more as you walk up the model range, or via the options list.

Choose SE and you gain voice control, a multifunction trip computer, dual-zone climate control and acoustic rear parking sensors. There are also the selectable drive modes (Eco/Comfort/Sport/Individual) with SE, as well as a Driver Fatigue Sensor. SE-L gains standard sat nav with in-car WIFI, colour for that trip computer, an auto dimming rear mirror and intelligent headlights with high beam control. If you’re after all the kit, then Laurin & Klement provides it, adding a larger, more sophisticated sat nav and touchscreen package (available optionally elsewhere), as well as premium Canton audio, keyless entry and start and LED interior lighting with ten different colours for the doors.

Skoda Octavia

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Performance & Handling 6/10

Performance

The 2.0-litre TDI used to be the default choice if you were after a mix of performance and ease combined with economy. In many ways it still is, but with diesel’s popularity waning then it’s useful that Skoda has an impressive choice of petrol engines on offer too. These comprise of a 113bhp, 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine badged 1.0 TSI, and above that there’s a choice of 1.4 or 1.5 TSI engines, these, again, turbocharged, and producing identical 147bhp outputs. Why the difference in capacity? The 1.5 TSI gains a cylinder shut-off system that drops a pair of cylinders under light loads for improved economy.

Both those larger, four-cylinder TSI engines deliver good performance, they’re smooth and quiet, and thanks to the turbocharging have plenty of low-rev torque, too. The 1.4 TSI is marginally quicker in the 0-62mph run, taking 7.8 seconds over the 1.5 TSI’s 7.9 seconds. The 1.0-litre choice trails both by around 2 seconds, but to call it slow is to do it a disservice, its revvy, willing nature actually surprisingly enjoyable.

Impressive as the petrol choices are, the diesel options remain compelling, the 2.0-litre’s 1.6-litre TDI understudy having a useful 113bhp, though like the 2.0-litre it’s the low and mid-range torque response that deliver’s the TDI Octavia’s urge, and makes them the choice if you plan on towing or doing galactic mileages. Most of the engine choices can be had with a six-speed DSG automatic, which is smooth and easy. Choose the DSG with the 1.6 TDI and you get 7 gears to replace its five-speed manual transmission. Elsewhere a six-speed manual is standard, it featuring a positive, if heavily sprung shift. Unlike the estate, all hatchback Octavias are front-wheel drive only.

Handling and comfort

Safe, surefooted and predictable, which is about all you could possibly want from a family car. There’s some fun to be had, the Octavia steering accurately, and resisting lean in the bends, too. The best for handling is the 1.0-litre TSI, its lighter engine making for a lighter nose, and improving the steering response.

Truthfully, anyone looking for a fun Octavia will be looking at the vRS models, not the mainstream ones here, but day-to-day the Octavia does a decent, if not perfect job. If we’ve one complaint it’s centred around the suspension, which does have a tendency to knock on our less than perfect tarmac. It absorbs the general flow of the tarmac well, but potholes, ridges and cracks do upset its composure a touch. That can be improved with the option of variable damping, but it’s not such a significant improvement that we’d suggest it’s a must-have option.

Recommended engine: 1.5 TSI DSG

0-62 MPH

8.3 seconds

Fuel economy

56.5 mpg

Emissions

115g/km

Skoda Octavia

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Safety Features 7/10

All come with a fairly comprehensive standard list of safety equipment. There are driver and passenger front and side airbags, a kneebag for the driver as well as curtain and head airbags in every model. Likewise, all have ESC (Electronic Stability Control) a hill hold control, automatic post-collision braking, seatbelt warning lights and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

There’s ISOFIX seat mounts on the rear outermost seats, while SE gains a driver fatigue monitoring system and acoustic rear parking sensors over the base level S model. Choose the SE-L and you gain Front Assist collision protection (it's a shame that this isn't standard across the range as it is on some rivals), and intelligent headlights with high beam assist technology. Top level Laurin & Klement adds things like adaptive cruise control, Lane Assist and cornering fog lights. With all there’s the choice to add to the specification, the options list containing equipment like blind-spot monitoring, light assist and things like that adaptive cruise control, pedestrian protection system and more where not already fitted as standard equipment.

Skoda Octavia

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Spec & Trim Levels 9/10

As with the safety equipment you really could buy a base S model and not be left wanting for essential equipment. There’s air conditioning, that Smartlink+ smartphone connectivity with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, Bluetooth, DAB and the touchscreen to control it all. Choose SE and that list grows to include selectable drive modes a driver fatigue monitoring system, cruise control, a multifunction steering wheel, trip computer, voice control, acoustic parking sensors and chrome door handles inside.

SE also gain dual-zone climate control and an air conditioned ‘jumbo box’ stowage compartment. SE-L builds on that, with leather and Alcantara trim inside, 17-inch alloy wheels, chrome styling elements outside, sat nav, full LED headlights and even an umbrella under the passenger seat. Opt for the Laurin & Klement and you’ll be looking at a standard equipment list that’s in the premium sphere, so extensive is the standard kit offering.

Colours

Blue is the standard, no-cost option, and very nice it is too, There’s red or white for £205 more, or if you’re a bit more adventurous there are nine metallic hues to pick from for just under £600. That’s depending on the model, Laurin & Klement buyers paying a little less for their hues. The pick is good, too, with the usual conservative whites, greys and blacks, as well as some more adventurous, and appealing colours like Maple Brown Metallic and Cappuccino Beige - it looks way better than it sounds.

Trim Levels

The trim levels follow the Skoda norm, with S, SE, SE-L and Laurin & Klement being the luxury offering. If you’re after a more sporting model, to rival the GTIs and Rs and Sports then you’ll need the vRS report. There’s no outdoorsy-styled and 4x4-equipped Scout model in the hatchback range, for that you need the Octavia Estate.

Size and Dimensions

Length

4,670mm

Width

1,814mm (2,017 with mirrors)

Height

1,461mm

Max towing weight unbraked - braked

610kg – 2000kg

Skoda Octavia

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Running Costs & Fuel Economy 8/10

Nobody will buy an Octavia as an extravagance, so it’s unsurprising to find the running costs will be as palatable as the value offering it represents with its purchase price. The 1.6 TDI and 2.0 TDI are kings when it comes to fuel economy, the 1.6 TDI able to break into the early 70mpg sphere when fitted with the DSG automatic transmission. That’s on paper, the reality will likely be around 20mpg less than that in real-world driving, but it’s still impressive, as is the 103g/km CO2 figure. Once, we’d have stopped there, but the TSI range of petrols runs those diesels close, the 1.0 TSI’s combined consumption figure just shy of 60mpg, again it’ll be less in realty, but if your drives are shorter, then you’ll be better served by the petrol engines - particularly as they’re cheaper to buy.

The larger petrol engines provide economy figures that aren’t so far off that 1.0 unit, so don’t discount them if you can afford their higher purchase price. DSG automatics do help with economy, so if you’re after convenience with some fuel savings they’re well worth considering.

Reliability and servicing

Skoda has built itself quite a reputation for reliability and customer service so there shouldn’t be any issues here. You can pick from either a fixed-rate servicing package, with set intervals, or by a flexible system that’s based on usage and defined by the car itself. If you’re using it for short trips only, take the annual service, though those using it for bigger trips can get away with intervals that stretch to as much as 2 years or 20,000 miles.

Minor

Flexible, depending on use

Major

Flexible, depending on use

Skoda Octavia

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Pricing 8/10

Prices start at around £17,000 for a 1.0 TSI S, and really you could just do than and be done. SE adds some useful equipment, SE-L some luxury and Laurin & Klement near premium levels of kit - for under £28,000. Like-for-like, and before you factor in the Octavia’s greater scale compared to hatchback competition like VW Golfs and the Ford Focus and it looks like a decent value buy. Leasing rates are competitive, with under £250 comfortably getting you into a middling specification car on a business or personal lease. Even the range-topper won’t cost you much more than £300 a month, which represents a lot of car (and equipment) for not much outlay. 

With those emissions and the list prices stacking up well against all the competition, you can be sure that the Octavia is as sensible an option in terms of company car tax as it is for retail buyers. Around £200 per month in BIK tax (for the 2018 tax year) for a 40 percent tax payer will see you easily into a very well equipped 1.6 TDI DSG Octavia hatch. 

 

Recommendations 

Luxury Seeker

The Laurin & Klement wants for nothing, yet is genuinely premium-like in its interior finish but inexpensive.

Company Car Buyer

A 1.6 TDI S DSG will achieve amazing mpg if you’re careful, but don't discount the 1.0 TSI if you do lower miles, as its emissions and low list price make it great on BIK tax and it's actually great to drive.

New Parents

Any Octavia hatch will swallow even the most complex kids travel system, but we’d take 1.0 TSI for those short trips to the childminder/school/nursery and back. 

Rivals

Seat Leon

The Octavia’s Spanish cousin is sharper to drive and look at, but not as spacious.

Peugeot 308

Quirky, nicely finished interior, but nowhere near as useful as the Octavia

Volkswagen Golf

That badge rules in this company, but if you’re wearing your sensible head the Octavia makes more of it…

Ford Focus

Aging Ford not able to match the Octavia for interior appeal, or provision of space. 

Toyota Auris

Beige motoring, and while the Octavia’s not exciting either, the Czech pips the Toyota for usefulness.

Gallery: Skoda Octavia Hatch