Skoda Octavia Estate SE 1.6 TDI CR
On the road this third-gen Octavia is refined and comfortable
- High quality of cabin materials
- Smooth ride and supportive seats deliver good comfort levels
- Generous amounts of room for passengers
- Large rear load area is easy to access
- Latest exterior family 'look' could have been more adventurous
- Still lots of all-to tempting optional kit to choose from
- Low power diesel needs to be worked hard and can prove harsh
- Driving experience is refined but uninvolving
A cornerstone of the Skoda range, over time the Octavia has offered good levels of comfort, refinement and space for a modest outlay. This latest generation model builds on those attributes but sets its sights on challenging cars with longer established associations with a premium ownership experience.
You'll never see a garish or outrageously styled Skoda - it's just not the way the Czech company operates. As such, this 'new' Octavia might be something of a letdown to those seeking a more pronounced visual change. The reality is that buyers like consistency, but look past perceived disappointment and there's much to like about this car.
Displaying bold, fuss-free sheetmetal this Octavia is aimed at buyers who don't feel motivated to make a statement. Changes to the car's grille, headlights and rear ensure that it looks fresh and modern.
There are bigger changes inside the cabin, with the noticeable inclusion of higher-grade materials for the basic structures and upholstery. The upgraded infotainment system sports a much large touchscreen, while the connectivity and listening options have been expanded to meet evolving consumer demands.
The estate variant has always been the workhorse of the range, and while this hasn't changed much it's clear that the overall quality uplift has done much to help move away from the old utilitarian look and feel of the load area.
Our verdict on the Skoda Octavia Estate SE 1.6 TDI CR
The same but different would be a rather appropriate way to describe Skoda's latest generation Octavia estate. The basic form and function remains unchanged, which is a good thing, however this car is easily more polished and refined. Entertainment, comfort, safety and powertrain have all benefited from various improvements, ensuring that the Octavia continues to be a class act.
Despite the slow but noticeable creep in asking price, this Octavia still offers considerable value for money. In estate guise the car's generous load carrying abilities outshine most rivals, while opting for one of the diesel variants should deliver above average economy and, crucially, meaningful savings during the ownership period.
Space and practicality
Just like its predecessor, this Octavia boasts 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. Fold the rear seats and the car easy accommodates more bulky items. Cabin storage space is also generous, with plenty of scope to squirrel away personal items.
Controls and display
The car's refreshed instrumentation is now easier to read and, thanks to the digital display, can deliver more relevant information quickly. The various physical controls should be familiar to existing owners and everything works well. The dominant infotainment screen is a welcome improvement over the old technology, and proves immediately intuitive.
This is an area where the Octavia scores well, with all passengers accommodated in good comfort, thanks to supportive seats and ample head and legroom. The ride quality sits neatly between sporty and soft, and noise from the engine, road and wind is well suppressed under normal driving conditions.
There's nothing out of ordinary here, as the Octavia comes with the usual package of remote central locking and anti-theft systems. In estate guise the Octavia boasts a sturdy load cover that should deter prying eyes.
All Octavia models come with a long list of safety kit, including electronic stability and traction aids as standard. Numerous airbags plus a passenger de-activation switch are also included, as are Isofix mounting points.
Opting for sensible diesel power will put you in good company with existing Skoda owners. If your budget is tight the 1.6 unit is fine but does need to be worked hard - likely a frequent exercise with an estate car. Moving up, 2.0 power is better but a more expensive choice. Either way, the Octavia delivers a composed ride and hushed cabin, although don't expect the experience to be as engaging as, say, Ford's Mondeo.
Family car appeal
If you're determined to stick with a conventional car, the Octavia makes a strong case for itself in comparison with some MPVs. Although it only has five seats, the generous boot and accommodation makes it suitable for most eventualities.
First car appeal
It might be a little large for a first car, but the Octavia is easy enough to pilot that even novice drivers could use it without feeling intimidated. The price tag may be out of reach for most first-time buyers, though.
Quality and image
The Skoda brand has been mainly 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. With this Octavia Skoda hopes to add a touch of luxury and glamour as it seeks to climb the automotive ladder and challenge brands more commonly associated with premium products.
Decent door openings front and rear make entering the car straightforward. The interior door handles are large and easy to use, as are the exterior handles. Crucially, the estate car's tailgate requires little effort to open but, if you're short, will require a determined tug to pull shut.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
In keeping with the car's all-new status, the infotainment offering has been upgraded. Entry-level aside, you can have a large touchscreen to access audio, car settings and (where fitted) san-nav. It's an intuitive system, and delivers good sound quality and reliable navigation instructions. There's also a premium system available with an even bigger screen. Elsewhere, the rest of the car's controls and switchgear has remained largely unchanged.
Colours and trim
As befits a car aspiring to reach the premium sector, the Octavia looks its best in somber, executive-inspired colours. This trend continues inside, with darker cabin materials likely to prove more hardwearing and promote a more credible, high-class ambience.
With decent visibility all round, parking the Octavia Estate remains a straightforward task. Parking sensors make a huge difference, as does the availability of a parking camera.
Full size spare located under the boot floor.
Petrol engine options - 1.2-litre (105bhp); 1.4-litre (140bhp); 2.0-litre (220bhp). Diesel engine options - 1.6-litre (105bhp); 2.0-litre (150bhp, 184bhp). Transmission options: five and six-speed manual gearbox, six and seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. Trim levels: S, SE, Elegance, vRS.
Dacia Left-field, low cost alternative boasts similar levels of practicality
Mazda 6 Estate Stylish and impressive all-rounder offers good value for money
Volkswagen Passat Estate Premium badge but still practical, although price gap to Octavia has narrowed
Vauxhall Insignia Sleek load-lugger is a good steer and practical too