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Skoda Octavia Estate SE L 1.5 TSI – long-term review
Goodbye Octavia: Skoda's unsung practical hero
I don’t remember a time from my childhood when my family didn’t have a Cortina, Granada or Sierra estate in the driveway, so I felt a twinge of sadness recently when Ford announced it’s ditching the concept of large family cars. Having sold just 2,400 examples in 2020, as of next March the Mondeo range will be no more. Contrary to the move towards ever more ecologically sound vehicles, it seems that these days no self-respecting family would be seen in anything other than a big, heavy SUV.
Thankfully, for those who still see the virtue of a keenly priced, practical family estate, Skoda launched the latest Octavia last July. Living with one has dispelled plenty of myths.
Technically it competes with the Focus (it shares a platform with the VW Golf) but to my mind the Tardis-like interior makes it feel like more of an alternative to the Mondeo and Passat.
Everything in the cabin is well thought out and beautifully put together. The touch screen controls work well and our test car’s microsuede upholstery feels more luxurious than any man-made fibre has any right to be.
And as previously reported, there are dozens of smart design features that must cost pennies to manufacture but always make me smile. I’m talking about stuff like the umbrella concealed in the driver’s door, the ice scraper with a tyre tread gauge hidden in the fuel filler flap, the windscreen washer tank cap that folds out to create a funnel and the ‘snow mode’ head-up display that shows data in blue rather than white text so that you can read it against a snowy background. I could go on…
Thanks to lockdown, I’ve managed less than 4,000 miles in our six months together but that’s been more than enough to learn that whilst the Octavia won’t be winning awards for performance and handling, it’s both a capable motorway cruiser and agile enough around town. There have been no technical problems to report other than simultaneous electronic glitches with the satnav and voice control, both of which were quickly sorted by a software re-boot back at Skoda HQ. Your dealer should be able to supply a software update if your Skoda is similarly afflicted…
The Octavia Estate starts at £22,215 but the SE L First Edition is towards the top of the range and our heavily spec’d test car came in at a tad over £30k. Personally I’d have splashed out an extra £1,200 for the vRS version with bags more performance and less vanilla exterior styling, but each to their own.
Alternatively, Skoda has just announced the new Sportline trim level will be available later this year. It’ll be cheaper than the vRS and share many of that model’s styling features including black detailing and sports seats. The best of both sensible and sporty worlds, perhaps.
So I’ve enjoyed my time with the Octavia. It’s well built, super-practical, comfortable and an all-round pleasure to live with. Fear not Mondeo Man: there really is a viable alternative out there.