Big in terms of space and economy

Skoda continued the more trend with the new Octavia. The wheelbase has been lengthened, the cabin is bigger and the boot is massive, writes John Knox .

Skoda continued the more trend with the new Octavia. The wheelbase has been lengthened, the cabin is bigger and the boot is massive, writes John Knox .

The basic principals which have served Skoda well since the Octavia name was revived in 1996, which is now over 400,000 unit sales later, have been adhered to.

The latest Octavia is built on the award winning platform that underpins the new VW Golf, Audi A3 and Seat Leon, which is a strong kick off point.

Functional

The Octavia is what we would describe as a functional family saloon. The body look won’t blow your mind, but there is a feel to the Octavia that suggests it will be there for you every day to serve you loyally and true.

Just look around and see the number of taxi drivers who pick Skoda above all others. There has to be a serious reason (s). Reliability, economy and general running costs are high on the list of priorities, apparently.

The Octavia is available with 1.2, 1.4 and 1.8 litre petrol units, which are backed up by 1.6 and 2.0 TDi engines. All but the entry level petrol model are offered as Green Tec environmentally friendly motors which include Stop & Start technology and energy recovery functionality as part of the standard equipment.

Low emissions

Prices begin at 18,995 euro (ex-works) for the 1.2TSi and transmissions are 6-speed manual or a 6-speed, twin clutch DSG semi-automatic.

My drive was in the ‘give you value for your euro’ 1.6 TDi. This engine is tuned to give good returns (52mpg for me), and with low emissions (99g/km) it commands an alluring annual road tax levy of 180 euro.

Now there you have considerable savings to begin with for a car that has shed weight, has a wheelbase that is lengthened by around 4.5” and which consequently offers massive interior space. The 105bhp unit isn’t a scorcher as a performer, but neither is it meant to be.

This is a euro saver with the engine tuned to stretch the gallon/miles ratios.

The 5-speed short throw gearbox offers an easy and precise change, but now and again on the motorway I wondered would a 6th gear round off the drive that bit better. Then again, it is back to the market at which the car it pitched.

A real winner

The interior of the Octavia is a real winner, in terms of finish. The comfort level is good, a fact helped by the fact that there is plenty of space. Actually there is huge space all round, and three adults can be accommodated with ease in the rear.

The boot space at 590 litres (normal) is large by any standard, and with the rear seat backs folded down this stretches to a humongous 1,580 litre.

On the ‘give and take’ measure, it is hard to say much against the Octavia, especially in times when running costs are so crucial. Octavia scores big there, and it is big on space too!

Standard features – front, passenger, side, curtain and driver’s knee airbags, ESC, height adjustable driver’s seat, front fog lights, radio Swing with four speakers, Aux-In, USB, SD card, 15” steel wheels, rear seat split 60/40 and folds, full spare wheel, heated electric wing mirrors. Extra on Ambition – 16” alloys, dashboard info display, Bluetooth connection, air conditioning, front and rear arm rests with storage.

Skoda Octavia 1.6 TDi Ambition 4-door saloon 24,545 euro (ex-works); 1,598cc, 105bhp, front wheel drive, 5-speed manual gearbox; C02 emissions 99g/km; annual road tax 180 euro; top speed, 194kph; consumption, 3.8 l/100km (combined).