Review: Skoda Octavia

The Octavia is definitely for you if you have nothing to prove

14 Sep 15 Tim Barnes-Clay

Pros

  • Huge cabin and boot

  • Cheap compared to rivals

  • Very practical

Cons

  • Bland looks

  • Some interior trims can feel cheap

  • Not exciting to drive

Our expert rating

Skoda Octavia is Czech made large family car manufactured since 1996. It's been through three generations and it's available as a hatchback and as an estate.

In 2000, Skoda Auto became part of Volkswagen Group and since then it's become one of the most popular car brands in Europe.

Performance

This Skoda Octavia from 2004-2013 is the one to aim for if you want a lot of car for your cash. It’s based on Volkswagen's MkV Golf, and is almost as decent to drive. Avoid the weak 1.4-litre petrol model, and search for the 1.6 FSI. It’s cultivated, fairly economical and sensibly priced on the used market. Diesel has always been a popular option with Octavia buyers. There is a 1.9 or a 2.0-litre diesel to choose between.

There is also a sexy vRS version of the 2.0-litre. In 2009, newer, more-efficient engines were ushered in. The turbocharged 1.2-litre is surprisingly effective, while a 1.6-litre diesel was brought in, along with an ultra-efficient Greenline edition.

Red Skoda Octavia

Ride and handling

The Octavia rides well over patchy tarmac, and the handling is lithe, yet steady. The only flaw in its dynamics is the slightly anesthetised steering. The cabin is hushed when on the move, with just a little wind noise around the wing mirror housings intruding from time to time.

Interior space

The Octavia hatchback is more voluminous than the VW Golf, and feels more like a family-sized vehicle. It has an enormous load area with plenty of pegs and netted areas to keep your luggage secure and compartmentalised.

The front passenger area provides lots of legroom and the rear seats are good for two adults or three kids, so there is room inside for five. Everything feels rock-solid and hard-wearing, even though the car is lacking on visual style.

Skoda Octavia interior

What to know before you buy

Despite the well-thought-of build quality, bits of interior trim can come loose, predominantly around the dashboard area. It’s also worth remembering that most engines need their cambelts changed once every 60,000 miles or every four years. You need to make sure this has been sorted.

Check the service book first. It should indicate if this has be carried out. The 1.4-litre petrol engine, in particular, has a history of cambelt catastrophes, which can lead to a ruined engine. Get the cambelt examined if you have any reservations.

Sometimes the rear washer tank can leak screen wash into the boot, so lift the carpet and look for damp patches or aromas of mustiness. Likewise, the door seals can leak, allowing water to seep into the footwells. Again, soggy spots or mouldy odours in the cabin are a clue.

Skoda Octavia back

Alternative cars

The Ford Focus is pretty much the benchmark family hatch and, therefore, a major rival. It’s an awesome all-rounder but it can’t match the Skoda for room and standard levels of kit. Another car to check out is the Citroen C5. It looks a bit passé but these French-fancies are cheap, spacious and pragmatic. The C5 is no oil painting, though. But, to be blunt, nor is the Octavia.

Skoda Octavia and Ford Focus comparisson

Overall verdict

This is a great used car, but because it’s so good, it can be rare. The Octavia is definitely for you if you have nothing to prove, you value good workmanship and are more interested in substance than ostentatious brand values.

You can also have a lot of pleasure if you go for the vibrant vRS version. Whichever model you chose, the Skoda Octavia is one wholesome family car.

Expert rating

Performance

Reliability

Space & comfort

Running costs

Value for money

Overall