The Sunday Times Driving Placeholder
A phenomenal family car from Skoda that manages to humble its rivals for driving experience, interior space and quality.
Pros
Smooth, unflappable ride
Great quality
Rear cabin space
Cons
Underwhelming 1.6-litre diesel
Lacks a defining Skoda character
Options can undermine value argument

Skoda Octavia Mk 3 review (2013-on)

Forget badge snobbery – the new, third-generation Skoda Octavia is quite simply one of the best family cars money can buy, full stop.

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What is the Skoda Octavia Mk 3?

Forget badge snobbery – the new, third-generation Skoda Octavia is quite simply one of the best family cars money can buy, full stop. As with previous models, Octavia five-door hatchback occupies a position somewhere between compact and large family car. A VW Golf owner trading up would find it cavernous; a Ford Mondeo driver trading down, acceptable.

Octavia prices are competitive, with the cheapest model, the 105hp 1.2 TSI S 5dr, costing £15,990 compared, for example, with the less powerful, 85hp VW Golf 1.2 TSI 3dr at £16,495. Value for money is a Skoda strong point and the Octavia doesn’t disappoint. Entry-level S specification includes DAB radio, alloy wheels, air conditioning and anti-lock brakes. The next trim, SE, brings dual-zone air conditioning, rear parking sensors and driving mode selection (eco/comfort/sport/custom). To all of this, the range-topping Elegance adds such things as 17in alloys, alcantara and leather trim, driver fatigue detection and sat nav.

There are two petrol engines (105hp 1.2 and 140hp 1.4) and two diesels (105hp 1.6 producing 184lb ft torque and a 2-litre producing 150 lb ft torque). Economy ranges from a petrol-best (1.2 TSI) of 57.7mpg to a diesel best (1.6 TDI) of 74.3mpg.

 

The drive

Close your eyes and you could be driving a Golf, the Octavia is that mature and composed. It flatters the UK’s broken roads, riding over ridges and potholes quietly with little bump-thump. Where other cars might shudder or “drop” a wheel, the Octavia rides serenely on. Out of town and pressing on, it steers accurately around corners, although the heavier diesel has a tendency to plough on a little in extremis. Body roll is kept nicely in check and the brakes are powerful and progressive.

One downside of the Octavia’s quiet, urban ride, is that you can hear the fuel sloshing about when you come to a stop at junctions, particularly when the tank is nearly full.

Our 1.6-litre diesel test car felt a little underpowered. The otherwise excellent DSG seven-speed automatic may not have helped (depending on engine, it also shaves between 2 and 6mpg off the combined cycle) but it was clear it lacked the mid-range sparkle of the bigger 2-litre diesel. If you tow or regularly drive en famille, the 2-litre Octavia would be well worth taking for a test drive.

The interior


 

Octavias have long been admired for their roomy rear cabin and boot. Even with the driver’s seat pushed back for a taller occupant, there’s ample space behind. A Mondeo’s interior and boot are larger but the Skoda is capacious enough for most family’s needs.

The downside is the otherwise classy cabin’s predictable styling. Skoda, and Seat for that matter, are clearly under instructions to furnish their cars from the VW catalogue. Both favour angled window ledges (not the most elbow-friendly), well-ordered but rather geometric fascias and VW’s trademark rotary light switch. Still, the Octavia’s quality seems to be a cut above Seat and not far behind VW, although the centre arm rest could have been plusher.

Our Elegance trim test car came bulging with £3000 of extras, among them a £400 Canton sound system, £700 powered seats and a £200 leather steering wheel with paddle controls. Effective though they all were in showcasing Skoda’s options list and making the car feel like something from the class above, they served to remind any owner tempted to follow suit, that this way lies financial ruin. The resultant £25,325 Octavia 1.6 TDI CR Elegance overreaches the brand’s image and will lose thousands of pounds in depreciation. Settle with off-the-shelf trims, ideally SE specification.

The one to buy

Skoda Octavia 2.0 TDI CR SE 5dr

Factfile

Engine
1968cc, 4cyls
Power
150bhp @ 3500rpm
Torque
236 lb ft @ 1750rpm
Transmission
6-speed manual
Acceleration
0-62mph in 8.5sec
Top speed
135mph
Fuel
68.9mpg
CO2
106g/km
Road tax band
B (£0 for the first year, £20 thereafter)
Dimensions
L 4659mm, W 1814mm, H 1461mm

 

 

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