Ten Second Review
With its imposing front grille and boldly sculpted lines, the MK4 Octavia looks as if it's been milled from a solid rock. It just looks expensive, despite the crest on the bonnet nagging otherwise. Most would probably think it was a Volkswagen or an Audi and although rather closely related, these two marques will cost a good deal more than Skoda ask for the current Octavia. Only the most ignorant will still poke fun at Skoda's image. If they do, give them a ride around the block and watch them suffer at the all-you-can-eat humble pie buffet.
Decently sized, the Octavia I tested - the 2.0 TDI 150 model - certainly looked more expensive than its list price and compared to most of its direct competitors looks a very tempting proposition. I think this car could definitely find a space in my garage.
Like all Octavia models so far produced, this one boasts a practical hatchback rather than the boot its stub-tailed lines may suggest. The first three generations of Octavia were renowned for possessing some of the biggest payloads in their class but this MK4 model has comprehensively trumped that, available capacity in the hatch now 600 litres with the rear seats in place. That grows to 640-litres in the alternative estate version.
Kids and adults alike will find that passenger room is similarly generous - and that's important since the prodigious luggage space of older Octavias often required rear seat passengers to pay in kind. The length of today's hatch model has been teased out by another 19mm, endowing it with admirable rear legroom even when the front seats are occupied by long limbed adults. Rear headroom is better than the swooping roofline would suggest, helped in no small part by a slightly more generous seat back recline than in many such cars.
The fascia feels much smarter than before. Enhancements to the switchgear, entertainment systems and trim send the cabin up in class a good few notches. There's ample room for five inside and there's even an estate version if you need more space. It really does seem more like the flagship Skoda Superb - albeit after a hot wash cycle - and feels a couple of classes removed from the next car down in the Skoda hierarchy, the Scala family hatch.
There's no shortage of poke from the 2.0-litre TDI 150 engine. This engine is good for a maximum speed of 141mph and will return a combined WLTP fuel economy figure of over 61.4mpg. It's a good environmental citizen, emitting not much more than 120g of carbon dioxide per kilometre travelled (WLTP). A less powerful 115PS version of the 2.0 TDI unit is also offered.
Petrol is mounting something of a fightback after a good few years of diesel dominance and engines like the Volkswagen Group TSI units are in the vanguard. Two of these units are available with this Octavia. First comes a 110PS 1.0-litre TSI, then there's the 1.5-litre TSI unit with 150PS. This latter engine can also be had with 'eTSI' mild hybrid tech if you choose it with the optional 7-speed DSG auto gearbox.
All the latest Octavias benefit from Skoda's quest to endow the chassis with Ford Focus-style driving manners. Even with the wick turned down a good few notches, it can't help but feel extremely capable when stitching a series of bends together. The steering feels like a good hydraulically assisted set-up but is in fact electro-mechanically assisted. The sophisticated multi-link rear suspension offered on the 150PS models does a great job of keeping road bumps and thumps nicely suppressed.
Design and Build
In a word, excellent, but what would you expect from Skoda? Prices mainly sit in the £22,000 to £30,000 bracket and there's a choice of either five-door or estate body styles. Buyers in search of extra traction can choose the all-wheel-drive transmission of the 4x4 models. The standard front-wheel-drive Octavia is also available with the advanced seven-speed DSG twin-clutch gearbox that has received critical acclaim on models from across the Volkswagen Group empire.
Skoda can offer the usual raft of high tech gadgetry to enhance the Octavia ownership experience. The plusher models come with touch screen stereo and navigation systems with the option of a 30Gb hard disc for storing music. Owners can also connect their music players through iPod, AUX or USB connectors which allow the track listings to be displayed on screen in the car. There are high-tech parking sensors too with a visual guide on the central display screen as well as an audible warning signal.
Market and Model
Only the most prehistoric badge snob will turn their nose at this Octavia. It feels just as well built as a Volkswagen Golf and looks a good deal more distinguished. It's probably not a car that will appeal to younger buyers, but those that do take the plunge are unlikely to be disappointed.
Cost of Ownership
The last Skoda Octavia took quite a big step forward in size; this one has grown more slightly, the hatchback version 19mm longer than before with the ever-popular estate variant now 22mm lengthier. In both cases, width has increased by 15mm. Visually, you'd certainly recognise this as an Octavia if you'd owned one before, but the car looks a little more mature and sophisticated now and features full-LED headlights as standard. LED lighting also features in the wider, thinner rear lamps.
Where work was needed on this model line though, was in the cabin. Skoda interiors have always been smart and functional but a little dull. This one could almost fool you that you were sitting in a VW Passat, which is another way of saying that quite a big step forward in perceived quality has been now made.
Engine-wise, most petrol sales will be of either a 1.0-litre three cylinder TSI petrol unit offering 110PS (which has mild hybrid tech in auto form); or a 1.5 TSI 150PS unit. For diesel fans, there's a 2.0 TDI EVO unit with either 115 or 150PS.
A Skoda Octavia was once the least sophisticated of all the Volkswagen Group's family hatchback products. Not any more. Almost nothing has been held back for this fourth generation version. It's still bigger and better value than most of its rivals, a Mondeo-sized medium range hatch for the price of a Focus-sized one. The difference now though, is that it's clever enough, once again, to change the way you think about Skoda.
The last Octavia took quite a big step forward in size; this one has grown more slightly, the hatchback version 19mm longer than before with the ever-popular estate variant now 22mm lengthier. In both cases, width has increased by 15mm. Visually, you'd certainly recognise this as an Octavia if you'd owned one before, but the car looks a little more mature and sophisticated now and features full-LED headlights as standard.
Where work was needed on this model line though, was in the cabin. Skoda interiors have always been smart and functional but a little dull. This one could almost fool you that you were sitting in a VW Passat, which is another way of saying that quite a big step forward in perceived quality has been now made. As is the current fashion, a digital instrument binnacle display is available, this one 10.25-inches in size. It's complemented by your choice of centre-dash screen; there are four choices, a base 8.25-inch monitor, then, if you can afford more, three 10-inch displays of varying functionality. As usual with an Octavia, back seat space is class-leading. As is boot capacity, which has grown to 600-litres in the hatch, or 640-litres in the estate.
The powerplant range here has a familiar look if you're familiar with Skoda's borrowed Wolfsburg-sourced engineware. Volume sales are based around the brand's usual 1.5 TSI EVO 150PS petrol powerplant, which gets the brand's 'e-TECH'-branded 48-volt mild hybrid engine tech when mated to DSG auto transmission. Below that, there's an entry-level 1.0-litre three cylinder 110PS petrol unit, which in DSG auto form, also gets that mild hybrid technology. There's also a 2.0-litre TDI 150PS diesel engine, only available in DSG auto form. The top vRS sporting model offers two conventional units, a 245PS 2.0-litre TSI petrol powerplant and a 200PS version of that 2.0 TDI diesel. Like its predecessor, this MK4 Octavia uses the Volkswagen Group's MQB front wheel drive and All-Wheel Drive platform, but in this case the revised version of it that recently debuted on the new-era MK8 Volkswagen Golf.