Skoda Octavia Estate Interior Layout & Technology | Top Gear
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Car Review

Skoda Octavia Estate review

£20,680 - £29,700
Published: 07 Jul 2020


What is it like on the inside?

This generation of Volkswagen Golf and Seat Leon have courted controversy with their frustratingly minimalist interiors, which favour touch-sensitive buttons and sliders over conventional knobs and pushbuttons.

Being effectively the same car underneath, we were afraid the Octavia’s cabin would be similarly annoying. And in many ways it is – there are no dedicated climate controls, for example. Changes to temperature, fan speed and air distribution all have to be made through the main infotainment display, which is ten inches across in all but base-spec cars and just a mite too much of a stretch away for the driver.

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Said display has a touch-sensitive slider directly underneath. In the Leon and Golf, this is the natural place to rest your hand while you’re prodding away at the screen with your index finger. It controls volume and temperature (just volume in the Skoda), so every time you try and enter a destination into the sat nav, change radio stations or flick through your Spotify playlists, you invariably end up setting the air con to Arctic Blast with your thumb. This is annoying. 

The design of the Octavia’s dashboard, though, means there’s a much bigger area to brace your hand, so you don’t keep brushing the slider. Moreover Skoda has kept a line of push buttons for quick access to heated front/rear screens, plus climate, settings and drive-mode menus. The Seat has no shortcut buttons whatsoever, while the VW has just four small buttons.

The infotainment system itself looks good, responds quickly to your inputs and gets wireless Apple CarPlay.

A marginally more user-friendly cabin than the Leon’s or Golf’s, then. We’d say more attractive, too – the acres of shiny black plastic designed to make the VW’s twin screens look like one don’t do it for us. It looks cheap.

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It feels like a high quality item. Material quality is broadly very good but not quite up there with the VW – you can feel where Skoda’s saved money – but the novel two-spoke steering wheel (which gets TWO scroll wheels) is a nice thing to hold, and in the pricy SE L model, there’s a splash of Alcantara-like material across the dash and some posh, nicely trimmed seats.

It’s practical – there’s plenty of space in the back for fully grown adults, and the boot is 640 litres with the seats up, or 1,700 litres with them folded down (bit less in the PHEV because of the battery). That’s much more space than you get in a Ford Focus Estate, for example. More than you get in any other small estate, as a matter of fact.

And because it’s a Skoda there loads of clever little touches you just don’t get in other cars – for example there are flip-out hooks in the boot to keep your shopping from sliding around, storage for umbrellas in the front doors, an ice-scraper under the fuel filler cap, small secondary pockets on the backs of the front seats specifically for your kids’ smartphones and a USB-C port above the rear-view mirror for plugging in a dash-cam. 

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