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Car Review

Skoda Octavia review

£26,500 - £34,030
810
Published: 31 May 2024
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Skoda’s mid-life facelift to the Octavia improves on an already very good car. We’d go for this over a Golf or a Leon

Good stuff

Massively practical, interior wins over the Golf and Leon, smooth petrol engines

Bad stuff

No PHEV powertrain, lack of physical switchgear, the estate exists

Overview

What is it?

It’s the modern day Octavia (it shares its name with an earlier model produced between 1959 and 1971), of which Skoda has sold over seven million worldwide, now in its fourth generation and newly facelifted for 2024.

The pre-facelift Octavia was already a favourite of ours, so it’s music to our ears that the refresh is very much evolution rather than revolution. As the old adage goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Changes to the Czech firm’s best-selling model include a slightly revised design, improved tech and more efficient powertrains.

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The eagle-eyed will have noticed the redesigned front grille, headlights and rear lights, while inside there’s a bigger 13-inch infotainment display plus new upholstery, trim and door panel designs. Standard facelift fare, then.

Can I still have it as an estate?

Yep. As ever, Skoda has kept with tradition in offering the Octavia as an estate (you can read about that here) and the booted-hatch/liftback saloon type thing we have here. Whereas VW and Seat stick with traditional shapes for the Golf and the Leon. That also allows Skoda to score those all-important practicality points: the Octavia’s 600-litre boot is a whole 120 litres more than you get in the Golf.

Looks are always subjective, but while the Golf’s styling might just have regressed with its latest generation, this latest Octavia (which has grown by another 9mm in length too) is arguably the best looking one to date. And it has the least annoying interior too, with the new tech bringing it bang up to date.

What's behind the new grille?

In the UK, petrol engines include a 1.5-litre turbo 4cyl with a six-speed manual gearbox and either 109bhp or 148bhp. 

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Mild hybrid variations of both are available and receive a seven-speed DSG gearbox paired with a 48-volt starter-generator, which supports the engine under acceleration and allows it to shut down under deceleration for improved economy.

Your diesel options consist of a 2.0-litre TDI that comes in 113bhp and 148bhp flavours, the former with a six-speed manual gearbox, the latter a seven-speed DSG gearbox. 

A 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol outputting 201bhp is on its way, while the vRS is now up 20bhp for a total output of 261bhp. The latter is sufficiently different to warrant its own review, which is hidden behind these blue words.

Enough talk. How much?

Starting price is £26,775, with the estate costing an extra grand on top. We’re not here to question why you’d choose the hatch over the estate, but we know which we'd go for...

Broadly speaking, the Seat Leon is a bit cheaper and a VW Golf slightly more. Other hatch rivals include the Hyundai i30Mazda 3, Ford Focus, and Honda Civic.

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

Our only criticism of the hatch, lack of interior switches aside? The estate exists…

The Octavia’s 27 years of production make it the most successful model in Skoda’s history, and on this evidence it's not slowing down yet. Its mid-life facelift further improves what was already a very good car indeed.

We’d also now recommend it ahead of the Golf and Leon. With our most sensible hats on, it’s easily the most practical of the three, has the least annoying interior and provides an impressively comfortable driving experience.

And it’s crucially not a Volkswagen Group copy and paste job. It’s attractive without being too tryhard, while its interior makeover adds a more premium feel. Our only criticism of the hatch, lack of interior switches aside? The estate exists…

The Rivals

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