Skoda’s family estate has been under the knife for a mid-life refresh. We see if that’s enough to keep it at the top of the class
What do we have here?
Skoda’s third-generation Octavia hatchback, estate and Scout have been given a mid-life refresh.
The front-end styling is significantly revised with the large bland headlights replaced for sharply designed quad units, similar to the fourth-generation Mercedes E-Class (W212).
The front and rear bumpers are new while the rear taillight graphics are redesigned.
There are subtle changes inside, which give the Octavia more of an upmarket feel. The infotainment display is larger and has a revised design, with the screen growing to 9.2in.
The estate gets a choice of three petrol engines; a new 1.0-litre 115PS, a 1.4-litre 150PS and the 2.0-litre TSI 230PS in the VRS. There are also three diesel engines to choose from including a 1.6-litre TDi 115PS and two variants of a 2.0-litre TDi (150PS and 184PS), with the more powerful versions featuring in the vRS.
All versions come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard while a six or seven-speed DSG dual clutch automatic is available as an optional extra.
The updated Octavia Estate is available in six trim levels, S, SE, SE L, Scout, vRS, Laurin & Klement with prices starting from £18,395.
All models get 16in alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, automatic post-collision braking system, a 6.5in touchscreen, DAB radio, Bluetooth and air conditioning.
We’re testing the 2.0-litre TDI 150 fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox in SE trim. SE trim adds dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, Drive Select Mode, multifunctional trip computer and voice control.
It costs £22,530, however, our test cars if fitted with £1760 worth of extras including sat nav, special colour, park assist, temporary steel spare and floor mats. The Sat nav has an 8.0in touchscreen, DAB and smartphone connectivity.
How does it drive?
Under the bonnet, the diesel engine is impressively quiet as you set off. It develops 148bhp and 251lb ft of torque.
That’s enough to get the estate from standstill to 62mph in 8.5 seconds. Skoda claims it’ll return 65.7mpg on a combined cycle, however over our test route we return 50mpg. It emits 113g/km of CO2.
There’s an obvious power surge as the engine springs into life between 1,500 and 2,000 rpm, with max torque arriving in the middle of this range.
From then on it pulls strongly and consistently through to around 5000rpm, showing some petrol engine characteristics by revving hard and not run out of puff too quickly before a gear change is needed.
It’s also incredibly flexible with strong mid-range torque allowing you to pull freely out of towns and overtake slower vehicles with little need for gear changes.
Those gear changes though are easy to make thanks to a medium to light clutch and short gear lever travel between gears.
On the road, the Octavia is a delight, proving better to drive and more comfortable that many rivals.
The suspension copes brilliantly over the worst of surfaces and makes mincemeat out of small imperfections. The only time you’ll really notice anything is when the top layer of a road has been damaged, here the Octavia will start to rumble.
Its body movement is well controlled with excellent damping with a well-judged suspension setup means body lean is limited through the bends, and with a feeling of lightness, you can push the Octavia hard.
And when you do you’ll notice the amount of front end grip, keeping you stuck to the road. The steering feel is light, although can be firmed up with by putting the car in Sport on the Drive Select Mode. It turns in sharply and is accurate.
Visibility our is excellent. The roof pillars are narrow and well positioned not to obstruct your view while a large glass house gives you fishbowl feel.
The engine sends a little vibration into the cabin, however, it remains generally well behaved, while wind noise only penetrates a little at motorway speeds. The most evident intrusion is suspension noise from the rear.
What's it like inside?
Overall, little has changed from the previous model, although the updated infotainment screen does add a touch of class with its piano black surround.
All dials are clear to read, most are well-sized and feel pleasant to use. Only the rotary climate control dials feel a little flimsy.
The infotainment system is excellent, intuitive, clean and easy to use. You can also control the ventilation through it as well as apps.
Finding a comfortable driving position is helped by a seat that offers good adjustment with a pump lever for height and a rotary dial for the backrest. A second lever adjusts lumbar support.
Head room is excellent as is shoulder and elbow. The Octavia truly has a spacious interior. It also has good storage with a big door bin and glove box, sunglasses holder in the roof by the rear-view mirror. There’s an anti-slip tray ahead of the gear lever with a sliding cover, a three-part cup holder between the seats and an averaged sized bin under the central armrest.
In the rear, head, leg, knee and foot room as wells as shoulder and elbow room is very good.
There’s a tall but narrow central tunnel but three adults should be able to sit comfortably enough.
Between the seats is a fold down central armrest complete with a three stage cupholder, while the doors have small door pockets.
Round the back, the boot is manually operated and has a rubber handle to pull to close. The opening is wide and square while the sill is low. There’s quite a step down to the boot floor, however, the boot has been pushed to the extremities of the car, making it as large as possible.
There is a classy snap and slide load cover, two levers to lower the rear seat backrests, four push out back hooks, a 12v socket and four tether hooks.
Skoda claims it’ll return 65.7mpg on an official combined cycle, however over our test route we return 50mpg.
It emits 113g/km of CO2, meaning if falls into the 24% BIK band for company car users.
This model falls into insurance band 21E.
It comes with a three-year 60,000-mile warranty.
There is just so much to like and admire about the Skoda Octavia Estate. It’s practical, well made, has a comfortable ride yet can also be entertaining to drive.
The diesel engine is quiet on the move, punchy and economical. However, it can send some feedback into the cabin and the suspension noise is a let-down, as is the ride on broken surfaces.
Few estates at this price point can live with the Octavia.