As far as refreshes go, this is a subtle one. The new Skoda Octavia now benefits from an updated face, which the manufacturer claims makes it look wider and sportier than before. We’re not too convinced about that – but it’s a smart update to a hugely popular car. Look closely and you’ll see that the headlights have been split in two, while the light units at the rear now use LEDs rather than conventional bulbs.
The rear track of the car has been widened, and Skoda tells us that this has been done to increase stability levels at higher speeds.
Inside, the Octavia’s infotainment system has been updated, with even base-spec cars receiving an eight-inch touchscreen. A wealth of safety equipment, including blind spot detection and predictive pedestrian protection, is now available, too.
Looks and image
The old Octavia wasn’t a bad-looking car, though it was never one to set pulses racing. The new car is blink-and-you’ll-miss-it similar, save for those previously mentioned headlights. It certainly becomes a more appealing car when finished in brighter colours, as the plainer ones – silver and white, for instance – have a tendency to wash the car out.
Skoda has been knocking it out of the park recently – the Kodiaq is a great example of that. As with many refreshes, there’s not a huge amount of new features to point out on the new Octavia – but it is still just as compelling to own as the outgoing car.
Space and practicality
Our test car was the hatchback, though there is a larger estate version if you’re looking for top-level practicality. That said, the hatch is hardly minuscule. There’s plenty of legroom for those in the rear, even with a taller passenger sat up front. Headroom is also impressive all round, while large windows help give a better impression of space in the cabin.
The boot is also excellently sized. It offers 590 litres of space with the rear seats folded up, which rises to a capacious 1,580 litres with them down. For reference, the Volkswagen Golf hatchback has a 380-litre boot capacity with the rear seats up, and 1,270 litres with them down. If you want even more space, then opt for the estate – this can offer up to 1,740 litres of storage.
Behind the wheel
Thanks to its quiet and refined engine, the Octavia is a relaxing car to cover many miles in. The steering does feel a touch light at times, though this benefits around-town driving. At higher speeds, this lightness can be addressed by putting the car into Sport mode, which adds weight to the steering.
It’s hard to knock the Octavia’s ride, too. It’s a relatively softly sprung set-up, meaning that it does have a tendency to ‘float’ over crests in the road, but the by-product of this is good ride quality, even on larger 18-inch alloys such as those fitted to our test car. Yes, large bumps do tend to upset the car’s ride somewhat, but for the most part it irons out creases in the road very well. Opt for a smaller wheel size and there will be little to grumble about in terms of ride quality.
Value for money
Our car was an SE L specification vehicle, which includes a wealth of standard equipment. For a base price of £23,365, you get 17-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors as well as alcantara upholstery and full HD headlights. A full SmartLink suite comes as standard too, incorporating smartphone connectivity options such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
— ŠKODA UK Media (@SKODAUK_Media) April 4, 2017
However, the car we drove came fitted with options such as 18-inch alloy wheels and a Columbus infotainment system with a 9.2-inch touchscreen – a £1,050 option. Altogether, it came out at £26,695, which still represents a huge amount of value given the amount of technology and equipment on board.
Who would buy one?
The Octavia remains a smart choice for those who want a great-value car that comes loaded with standard equipment for a relatively small outlay. It’s immensely practical thanks to a large boot capacity, while plenty of space in the rear means that you won’t have any complaints from those sat in the back, either. It’s an ideal car for families, as well as business drivers who want good economy figures with decent-enough performance.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
Model as tested: Skoda Octavia SE L Hatch
Price as tested: £26,695
Max speed: 135mph
MPG: 65.7 (combined)