Motoring: The Skoda Octavia Estate is a comfortable ride




Skoda has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, and nowadays, the Octavia is one of the highest-regarded cars in its class.

It is challenging to make a typically boxy car attractive, but that hasn’t stopped Skoda from trying – and it’s got decent looks with thinned-out headlamps and a chiselled lower grille.

Three trims are offered, with the entry-level SE getting 16-inch aerodynamic alloy wheels, a 10-inch touchscreen with DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, LED headlights and day-running lights, electrically adjustable door mirrors, dual-zone climate control and lumbar support for the front seats.

The SE Technology gets navigation and a 12-month internet subscription via the infotainment system, while the SE L gets 17-inch aero alloys plus microsuede upholstery and rear tinted windows.

There is also a performance vRS version of the Octavia Estate, but that’s another story. For people who don’t drive like their hair set on fire, the SE L is the top-of-the-range model – and that is what is tested here.

Two petrol engines are offered – a 1.0-litre TSI with 110PS and a 1.5-litre TSI with 150PS, although both are available as non-hybrids or mild hybrids.

It is the diesel I’m interested in, though – the 2.0-litre TDI.

You get from 0-62mph in 8.8 seconds, which is reasonably good, with lots of low-rev grunt from the engine, which pulls away well from a standing start.

It doesn’t break a sweat at motorway speeds and deals with low-speed driving around town just as well.

Regarding handling, the Octavia is set up for a comfortable, soft ride, which can cause the odd bounce over uneven road surfaces. But despite this, it’s no slouch when it comes to cornering.

There is plenty of grip; the steering wheel weights up nicely at higher speeds, and while it’s not nimble or particularly fun to drive, it more than ticks the box.

The DSG automatic gearbox changes smoothly, and it’ll automatically take itself out of gear to coast when it can, saving fuel.

Inside, the cabin is well-designed, with an attractive layout and soft-touch materials. The Skoda doesn’t look quite as high-end as some of the German premium brands, but in some lighter colour combinations, it doesn’t look far off.

The dashboard is shaped, so the centre of it is closer to the occupants in the front, bringing the infotainment touchscreen within easy reach.

The infotainment system is impressive, with a sharp and responsive screen, large icons and an intuitive menu layout, although there’s a lack of shortcut buttons. At the same time, the Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster is equally nice and informative.

Alas, most of the air-con controls are buried in the screen, so it’s a fiddle to use on the go. But at least the temperature controls always remain in view along the bottom of the screen, regardless of which menu you’re on.

The Octavia is very comfortable to sit in, too, and visibility from the driver’s seat is reasonably commanding.

There is a lot of space in the front and rear, too, so even taller occupants won’t be struggling for room. And there are lots of places to store things, including a deep cubby behind the gear lever.

Boot space is a generous 640 litres, which expands to a massive 1,700 litres with the back seats folded down in a 60/40 configuration.

Economy figures are impressive, too, with this test car claiming 62.5mpg, producing just 118g/km of CO2.

Skoda has a good reputation for reliability, but you’ll still only get a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty included, although you can extend this if you’re willing to pay extra.

The Octavia Estate earned a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and comes with automatic emergency braking, driver fatigue sensor and lane-keep assist as standard. In addition, the SE Technology adds front and rear parking sensors, while the SE L model gets adaptive cruise control.

Skoda Octavia Estate

Overall, the Octavia Estate is a nice to drive, comfortable, pleasant and a highly practical machine, boasting impressive economy figures, especially on the diesel.

Regrettably, the diesel is more expensive than the petrols, which manage miles-per-gallon figures of 50 or more. So, unless you’re doing high mileage and need the extra fuel economy, on balance I’d probably go for the petrol instead.

Fast Facts – Skoda Octavia Estate [SE L 2.0 TDI 150PS DSG] as tested:

Max speed: 140 mph

0-62 mph: 8.8 secs

Fuel economy: 62.5 mpg (WLTP)

Engine layout: 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel, front-wheel drive

Max. power (PS): 150

CO2: 118 g/km

Price: £32,390

Tim Barnes-Clay

Tim Barnes-Clay is Sorted Magazine’s Motoring Editor. He test-drives the latest cars and attends new vehicle press launches around the world. The dad-of-three has a postgraduate diploma in broadcast journalism and has been a presenter and producer at ITV Central. He has also worked as a radio reporter and undertakes video and voiceover work. You can follow and interact with Tim on Instagram @tbarnesclay

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