Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of my Octavia hatchback, apart from one aspect: ride quality. It’s not unacceptable, but it’s too firm and unsettled, and almost everyone else who drives the car agrees.
One regular reader, Tim Burrows, doesn’t have this problem, though – and it’s because he has a four-wheel-drive Octavia. Available only as an estate, the 4WD version will clearly be better than my front-wheel-drive car when the roads are slippery, but its more sophisticated rear suspension should also make it better when the roads are bumpy.
To find out, I had to have a go in one.
The 4x4 in question was a 2.0 TDI 150 SE on standard 16-inch wheels, so as close to my car as possible. It certainly felt similarly effortless to drive, and the extra weight of the 4x4 system didn’t have much of an effect on performance.
There certainly was a difference in ride comfort, however. The 4x4 was less fidgety than my Octavia around town and on the motorway, and was better at dealing with bigger bumps, too. It still wasn’t quite as comfortable as I’d like, but it’s certainly the best-riding Octavia I’ve ever tried.
Unless you need the extra traction of four-wheel drive, though, I’d recommend sticking with the two-wheel-drive models. Going for 4WD over 2WD costs nearly £1500 and, if you go for a 2.0-litre diesel version, almost 10mpg. It’ll also cost you more in tax, either as a private or company car.
Sure, the 4x4 is more comfortable and will keep going when the winter weather strikes, but for most people, the standard models will be comfortable enough and they’ll be cheaper to buy and run.
By Barnaby Jones
Elsewhere in the carpark
Digital editor Nigel Donnelly has been getting the Range Rover into a few tight spots.