Skoda Octavia Estate 1.8TSI L and K
New lights, grille and bumper mark out revised Octavia
- Good quality of cabin materials and dashboard
- Smooth ride and supportive seats give good comfort levels
- Generous room for passengers and luggage
- Impressive standard specification across the range
- More substantial exterior facelift may have attracted more buyers
- Bluetooth connectivity won't accept all phones
- Similar markings on speedometer and rev counter confusing
- DSG gearbox can be a little hesitant when manoeuvring
One of the key cars in the renaissance of Skoda in the UK has been the Octavia. Combining the traditional values of practicality and affordability but combined with a modern design and a quality feel. The second-generation Octavia has received a mild refresh, designed to increase appeal and also keep pace with new opposition.
The most obvious change to the Octavia is the exterior design. More of a makeover than drastic surgery, the revised Octavia benefits from a new grille, bumpers, headlights and other detail items. The basic bodyshape remains the same whether hatchback or estate, so it is still recognisably an Octavia, but now falls in line with the rest of the Skoda range and feels fresher too.
Step inside and there are welcome changes for the driver and passengers, too. Immediately obvious is the new steering wheel, shared with the Superb, as is the touch-screen audio system on most models and air-conditioning controls. Although the bare bones of the dashboard remain the same, the slicker controls and extra trim are welcome.
As well as the detail improvements, the engine range for the Octavia has been overhauled. A new offering is the 1.4-litre TSI unit which employs a turbocharger to maximise efficiency and power, despite its small capacity. On the diesel side a 2.0-litre common rail engine replaces the outgoing high-output PD version, offering improved performance and emissions.
As an everyday car, the Octavia is more than competent and its estate configuration makes it versatile. Only the largest families will struggle to accommodate all passengers and luggage, though it has no option for extra rear seats. Conversely, with all the seats folded it can serve as a workhorse, carrying long and heavy loads.
Our verdict on the Skoda Octavia Estate 1.8TSI L and K
Subtle but effective changes to the Octavia means it continues to offer the sort of real-world motoring that many private buyers are after. In Estate form the Octavia is spacious and comfortable, while the improvements in specification and design are welcome. It may not score so highly in terms of outright style, but its combination of abilities means it will hold strong appeal for many buyers.
Running costs for the Octavia will never be tiny due to its size, but with that in mind it performs well. A low insurance group added to the economical diesel engine should make it relatively inexpensive to run. With variable servicing, it could also travel 18,000 miles between visits to the dealer.
Space and practicality
As any good estate car should, the Octavia has a well-shaped and commodious boot. Lashing eyes line the perimeter of the space to secure loads, with a pair of hooks on either side for carrier bags. The boot cover is a smart piece of design, requiring a simple push to automatically retract.
Controls and display
The Octavia benefits from the improved white-illuminated instruments and display already seen in the Superb, and this brings clarity and an extra dose of class. The climate controls are also improved, and are easy to understand and operate, while the display between the instruments offers a lot of useful information.
This is an area where the Octavia scores well, with all passengers accommodated in good comfort. Both front seats are height adjustable and have lumbar support, and the steering wheel has a wide range of movement, so drivers of all sizes can get a good position. The ride sits neatly between sporty and soft, and noise from the engine, road and wind is well supressed.
All models have remote central locking and an engine immobiliser, while SE models and above also come with an alarm system for added security.
All Octavia models come with a large haul of safety kit, including ESP as standard. Four airbags and a passenger de-activation switch are also included, as are Isofix fittings for three of the four passenger seats.
Combining the flexibility of the 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine with the swift and responsive DSG gearbox makes the Octavia a surprisingly keen drive. Leave it in Drive and progress is generally smooth - only low-speed parking can cause hesitancy - and requires little effort. Yet in the right conditions the rapid gearchanges and torquey engine means there is something on offer for enthusiastic drivers. This engine and gearbox combination also provides respectable economy figures when driven sensibly.
Family car appeal
For families who like to get out and about, the Octavia has sufficient space and practicality to cope. It makes a strong case for itself in comparison with some MPVs, and although it only has five seats, the generous boot and accommodation makes it suitable for most eventualities.
First car appeal
While relatively large for a first car, the Octavia is easy enough to pilot that even inexperienced drivers could use it without fear. The price tag may be out of reach for most first-time buyers, but there is nothing here to intimidate a novice.
Quality and image
The Skoda brand is now more commonly associated with reliable and understated products than anything else, and this is largely due to the great strides it has taken in terms of its product quality. The Octavia's image reflects this: it is a car for buyers who are less bothered about image and more about ability.
Decent door openings front and rear make entering the car straightforward, though with the steering wheel set low it is possible to catch a knee on the bottom of the steering column. The chrome interior door handles are large and easy to use, as are the exterior handles.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
All models bar the entry-level S get a touch-screen radio-CD unit which can take 6 CDs and read MP3 CDs too. It also has an auxiliary input and a slot for SD cards. As well as being easy to operate, this unit delivers strong sound performance whatever the source.
Colours and trim
Improvements in the cabin trims include matching seat and door panels and piano black trim around the gearlever, which help to push the Octavia a little further upmarket. The result is an interior that has a premium feel, yet hard-wearing and practical.
With decent visibility all round, parking the Octavia is not difficult, even in Estate form. Rear parking sensors are also standard on Elegance models and above.
Full size spare mounted on a steel wheel, mounted under the boot floor.
Petrol engine options - 1.4-litre (80bhp and 122bhp); 1.8-litre (160bhp); 2.0-litre (200bhp). Diesel engine options - 1.9-litre (105bhp); 2.0-litre (140bhp and 170bhp). Transmission options: five-speed manual gearbox, six-speed manual gearbox, DSG automatic gearbox. Trim levels: S, SE, Elegance, Scout, Laurin and Clement (L and K), vRS.
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