Motoring review: Skoda Octavia

Czech mate! Meet the best value family car around

Price: from £15,990 (£20,240 as tested)
Engine capacity: 1.4-litre turbo petrol
Power output (bhp @ rpm): 138 @ 4,500-6,000
Top speed (mph): 134
0-62 mph (seconds):
8.1
Fuel economy (mpg): 53.3
CO2 emissions (g/km): 121

When the chap from Skoda dropped off the new Octavia I can't say I was overly excited. I had a couple of hundred miles of Suffolk country lanes to cover visiting some relatives and I would have preferred to be doing in the Porsche Cayman due to be tested the next week (reviewed here soon). You see, the third-generation Octavia is a spacious and affordable sets of wheels and it's far more refined than the model it replaces, but it doesn't exactly do excitement. You wouldn't call it attractive either.

Duty called, though. But after a quick motorway run and a dozen or so sun-drenched East Anglian miles I found myself actually enjoying this cheap Czech family car. The Skoda badge doesn't just mean affordable anymore, it means you're behind the wheel of a perfectly put-together piece of kit, and there's great joy in that. It's a joy that stems from the little things working just perfectly, without any hassle or compromise. Inside, the switches are just where you expect them to be, the driving position comfortable and the gear stick a lovely and light tool for a precise change, while on the motorway it's economical, smooth and quiet as it dominates the outside lane with ease. As you push on, it handles tricky B-roads well.

Of course, there's a catch and this car isn't as cheap as you'd think – the new Octavia is about £1,000 more expensive across the range than the old model – and the model I fell for was the top-spec Elegance model with leather seats, cruise control, collision braking, dual-zone air-con, keyless entry and lane-keeping assist. It also had the more powerful turbo-charged 1.4 petrol engine. That's a lot of kit for a basic family car and it will set you back nearly £21,000. In my book that's still great value for money but I'm not sure who is spending that much on a new family car these days, especially when most of these extras sits in the not strictly necessary column.

If £21,000 is too much, the cheapest S model with a more modest engine (mine was the punchy 1.4 turbo petrol) is just £15,090, including alloy wheels, air-con, a touch-screen DAB radio with Bluetooth and a host of safety features. One option worth ticking is the Bluetooth+ wireless aerial connection. It's a small mat inside the cubby ahead of the gear lever, which I soon discover from the accompanying blurb is a £180 option that boosts mobile reception via the car's aerial and helps prolong battery life. I often run internet radio off my smartphone in test cars and this little gadget is a gem. Either way, whether you splash the cash on a top-spec model or go for a more wallet-friendly set-up, the Octavia is a bigger car than it used to be; it's 90mm longer and its 690l boot is bigger than the boot on a more expensive Ford Mondeo.

In February I said the new VW Golf was "probably the best" new car I was going to drive all year. It turns out I was wrong. The Octavia is based on the same underpinning as the Golf (they are both manufactured by VW) and while the Golf handles better, the Octavia is spec-for-spec £2-3,000 cheaper than its VW cousin. And it's bigger. Does that mean it's a better car or the best car on the road? No. I'm not going to make that mistake twice, but I will say that with the Octavia you get an awful lot of car for your money.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

    £25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

    Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

    £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

    £25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

    £25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas