Week ending July 24
Miles driven this week 205
I adore the practicality of the Skoda Octavia's big boot - like its regular custodian, Barnaby, I have been known to load it up with bikes and related detritus for a weekend away.
However, two things that I wouldn't be so keen to put into the Octavia's boot are my parents' dogs. It's not that they wouldn't fit because they have squeezed into smaller cars than the Skoda without complaint.
The reason I'm not letting Oscar and Caspar into the back of the Octavia is a seemingly very small one. Instead of a grab handle tucked into the inside of the boot, there is a large rubber dangling pull that sticks out into the storage area.
The dogs might not be puppies that chew absolutely everything any more, but the boot pull is a bit similar in look and texture to some of their toys for my liking.
Am I just being paranoid, or have other Skoda-driving dog owners had their boots modified by their pet?
By Tom Webster
Week ending July 17
Current mileage 12,051
Miles driven this week 62
Are you a good driver? Of course you are. Me? Occasionally, but my style is now middle-aged and languid, and although I’m always in a perpetual hurry, I don’t like to exert any effort.
This might explain a problem I have when driving the Octavia. After reversing the car, I’ll flick the gearlever out of reverse and ease it to the right slightly into what I presume is first. However, on many occasions, I haven’t exerted enough effort, or paid enough attention to the procedure, and ended up still in reverse gear rather than first. Luckily, I’ve been awake enough to sense that the movement is backwards, not forwards, and stopped the car before any serious trouble ensued, but the potential for disaster is huge.
Can we blame the quality of the car’s gearchange for this, or is it simply driver error? Regular Octavia driver Barnaby Jones hasn’t had any similar problems, and no one else has reported it to him, so sadly we’ll have to go for the latter. At all other times the gearlever and I get on quite well, but if you too are a little laid-back in your driving style it might be worth making sure you’re paying attention during your low-speed manoeuvres.
By Mark Pearson
Week ending July 10
Current mileage 11,989
Miles driven this week 105
I’ve been having an interesting chat with fellow Octavia owners on the Skoda forum Briskoda.net for the past couple of weeks.
Everyone likes their Octavia for the amount of space and equipment it offers for the money, but a couple of 2.0-litre diesel owners were especially keen to point out how much they prefer their cars to the 1.6 diesel versions.
I wholeheartedly agree. For me, the 2.0-litre’s far superior performance (in any gear and at any speed) outweighs the 1.6’s lower purchase price and slightly cheaper running costs.
The 1.6 diesel isn’t a bad choice – far from it – but if you like to get to places even moderately quickly, you’ll think the extra the 2.0-litre costs over the 1.6 is money well spent. I certainly do.
By Barnaby Jones
Week ending July 3
Driven this week 221
I approached a couple of days with our Skoda Octavia with a feeling of mild trepidation. The last time I’d borrowed it, I was a little critical of it, and I feared the car might remember and seek revenge.
I needn’t have worried. True, the faults were still there – no armrest up front, no audio controls on the steering wheel, the heavy handbrake and the firm ride – but here’s the thing, I enjoyed my weekend in the Octavia, and came away forced to re-evaluate my opinions.
On day one I took it to the Goodwood Festival of Speed, hammering it down the A3, pottering through lovely villages, before eventually completing the 50-mile journey at an average (according to the dash readout) of 47.6mpg; it did 55.7mpg on the way back.
Not only that, the Octavia had masses of room inside for four Pearsons, plenty of punch from the engine, good refinement when the going was straight, and reassuring handling when the going got twisty.
Day two was another chance for it to excel, this time as a load-lugger. Removing the parcel shelf and flipping down the rear seats is the work of seconds, and the load area then presented is mammoth. Alas, it proved a little too shallow to swallow a child’s trampoline, but it took everything else with ease.
I came away from the weekend thinking the Octavia a very good family car indeed, at a very moderate price. In fact, if it weren’t for that stiff ride, I would recommend this Octavia without any trepidation at all.
By Mark Pearson