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The Top Gear car review:Skoda Octavia Estate
For:Sharper looks, massive boot, significantly enhanced rear seat space
Against:For the job it was designed to do, almost nothing
1.6 TDI CR SE 5dr
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What we say:
The old Octavia Estate was a commonsense star. Skoda has made the new one even better. Genius
What is it?
The current Octavia is based on the VW Group’s much talked about MQB platform, allowing plentiful versatility in design and engineering. Skoda has fully capitalised on this with the third-generation Octavia: a combination of all-round ability and prices firmly rooted in the real world mean it’s a very hard car to criticise.
The latest addition to the range is the new Audi Allroad-style Scout. Can’t be bothered with the flashy fuss these modern crossover SUVs bring with them, but still need something that’ll get you out of a muddy field? The Scout’s your answer (and even in all-singing top-line 184bhp 4x4 DSG spec, it still comes in at just over £28,000…).
There are four mainstream engines, two sweet turbo petrols and a pair of diesels. All are good, but the Octavia is a workhorse and workhorses work best with diesel. The 1.6 TDI is so much smoother than it used to be and it’s all you really need. Unless you like speed, that is: Skoda obliges with the vRS, offered either as a 2.0-litre petrol or 2.0-litre diesel.
Skoda has also hit the nail on the head with the Octavia Estate’s dynamics. It’s light and effortless on the road, beautifully damped and rewarding to drive in its own way, too – you can’t help but admire the comfort here, nor the effort that’s gone into reducing weight by around 100kg on average. Suitably sportier, the vRS is a gem, too.
On the inside
The Octavia has now made the same jump up in material quality, texture and fit and finish that the Superb made three or four years back. The cabin is now a nice place to spend time; not exciting, nor individual, just well arranged, well made and pleasant. There’s a lot to be said for such small satisfactions.
Rear seat legroom, as we said at the start, is much improved, with knee clearance up 33 per cent, while boot volume has expanded by just a single, solitary per cent. But why would you want more? 610 litres is massive. At 1,740 litres seats-down, it’s yawning. Bigger than a Volvo estate, in fact…
Skoda continually top driver satisfaction polls and it’s hard to see the new Octavia estate doing anything to harm that. This is one of those cars that will do anything you ask of it (you can even get regular-look models with the Scout’s 4x4 system). It’s efficient, holds its value and, with prices starting at £17,330, extremely good value.
Fuel economy has taken a jump up with this one, and that sweet 1.6 TDI now cracks the 70mpg barrier. Pretty amazing for a car with such a big boot (and sub-100g/km means it gets free road tax too). If you like sensible, practical, well priced cars, here’s your new poster star.