Expert Reviews

First Drive: Skoda Octavia

Tuesday 11 April 2017

First Drive: Skoda Octavia

This is a very subtle refresh for the Skoda Octavia, which now benefits from an updated front end. The manufacturer reckons it makes it look wider and sportier than before, but we’re not convinced – either way, it breathes new life into a very popular car.

Changes include headlights that have been split in two, while the rear lights now use LEDs instead of conventional bulbs. Meanwhile, the rear track has been widened in a bid to improve stability at high speeds.

The interior’s been reworked too, with a new infotainment system the highlight – even base-spec cars now get an eight-inch touchscreen. Safety equipment including blind spot detection and predictive pedestrian protection are also added.

Looks & Image

The outgoing Octavia was a good looking car, but it was nothing to get too excited about. And save for those headlights, this one looks near-enough identical. It definitely wears brighter colours better than plainer ones such as silver and white, which have a tendency to wash the car out.

Skoda has been on a roll recently, with the Kodiaq SUV a great example of what it can do. The quality continues with the Octavia, and while there aren’t a whole host of new features to talk about with this facelifted model, it’s just as compelling to own as the car it replaces.

Space & Practicality

We tested the hatchback version, but an estate version is also available if practicality is key. However, the hatch is impressively spacious inside. There’s a lot of legroom for those in the rear even with taller passengers in the front seats, while headroom is impressive all round.

The boot offers 590 litres of space with the rear seats folded up, but that rises to 1,580 litres if you fold them down. That’s impressive – a Golf hatchback has a 380-litre boot with the seats up and 1,270 litres with them down. Opt for the Octavia estate and there’s 1,740 litres of storage space.

Behind the Wheel

The Octavia is relaxing car to munch miles in thanks to its quiet and refined engine. The steering is a little on the light side, but this does benefit inner-city driving. Flicking the car into Sport mode adds some weight to the wheel, which makes high speed stability easier.

The ride is on the soft side, so it does have a tendency to ‘float’ over crests in the road. However, the by-product of this is excellent ride quality – even on the larger 18-inch alloy wheels fitted to our test car.

It’s only let down occasionally by larger bumps, which unsettle the car, but for the most part it irons out creases in the road very well. Go for smaller wheels and there can be few complaints about ride.

Value for Money

We tested an SE L specification vehicle, which includes impressive standard kit. For the base price of £23,365 you get 17-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, alcantara upholstery and full HD headlights. A full SmartLink suite is also included, which adds smartphone connectivity features such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Our test car also came with optional 18-inch alloy wheels and a Columbus infotainment system with a 9.2-inch touchscreen, which added £1,050. The full cost came to £26,695, which represents decent value for the technology and equipment on board.

Who would buy one ?

The Octavia continues its reputation for being a great value car that comes with lots of standard equipment for a relatively small sum. The large boot capacity makes it brilliantly practical, while plenty of space for rear passengers means there won’t be many complaints from those sat in the back.

It’s ideal for families and business drivers thanks to good economy figures and performance on a par with its rivals.

Facts at a Glance

Model as tested: Skoda Octavia SE L Hatch
Price as tested: £26,695
Power: 207bhp
Torque: 340Nm
Max speed: 135mph
0-60mph: 8.2seconds
MPG: 65.7 (combined)
Emissions: 113g/km

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