I’m glad I went for the standard wheels on my SE-spec Octavia.
Sure, they didn’t cost me any extra and (to my eyes at least) they look good, but another reason is that they’re really easy to clean.
Wheels with lots of tiny spokes (such as those on many Alpinas and the Ford Fiesta Zetec S I owned years ago) are a pain – literally – to keep spotless; in contrast, the Octavia’s five-spoke ones are a godsend for the OCD wheel cleaners among us.
By Barnaby Jones
Read the full Skoda Octavia review
Week ending June 19
Driven this week 193
Last week’s report was about how good my Octavia was at taking two people and luggage for four to Belgium; this week’s focuses on how it fared as a taxi during those few days away.
There was loads of space for the four of us, and my two friends in the back were particularly impressed with the amount of legroom they had.
It didn’t take long for some issues to surface, though. There was the odd comment from the rear seats about ride comfort and the amount of road noise, and, like my pal up front, they’d have liked an armrest in the middle (front and rear armrests are optional on my SE-spec Octavia).
Still, all was forgotten once the fuel economy for the trip was calculated. The Octavia had done 560 miles (there was still about a fifth of a tank of diesel left) and averaged 62.6mpg. True, I was driving in ‘holiday mode’, so a bit slower than usual, but the car was often carrying two or more people during that time, plus it did a fair few miles in town. Either way, that’s a superb result for such a large car with a 2.0-litre engine.
Would I recommend the Octavia as holiday transport, then? Certainly. It’s spacious, economical and effortless to drive, which more than makes up for the slight comfort and refinement shortcomings.
By Barnaby Jones
Week ending June 13
Driven this week 414
The Octavia was put to work as holiday transport last week, when three friends and I went to Belgium for a few days’ cycling and sightseeing.
My friend’s Vauxhall Zafira was the perfect size and shape for the four bikes, so the Octavia was tasked with taking everyone’s cycling gear and luggage.
It’s safe to say that the bags and boxes didn’t seriously test the Octavia’s interior dimensions, and anything that didn’t fit in the boot went on the back seats, leaving my vision blissfully unobstructed.
After a relaxing ferry crossing with P&O Ferries (poferries.com, 08716 642 020), the Octavia was suitably effortless to drive on the way through France and into Belgium, and its sat-nav system took us straight to our secluded B&B.
We then travelled by bike during the day, but the Octavia was used to transport the four of us around in the evenings. Come back next week to hear how it got on (it’s not all good news) and what fuel economy it did over the holiday (it’s seriously impressive, trust me).
By Barnaby Jones
Week ending June 6
Driven this week 194
In an attempt to figure out just how Barnaby is managing to average more than 50mpg in his 2.0-litre diesel Octavia – when I consistently get high 40s from my Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI – I recently borrowed it for a week.
First, there’s the obvious: the Octavia has six forward gears, whereas the Golf has five and therefore revs more highly on the motorway, which is where I spend most of my commute.
It took me a few days to realise what other factor plays a part, and then it hit me: you don’t need to work the Skoda’s engine anywhere near as hard as the VW’s to make decent progress. Unsurprisingly, the Octavia’s motor has more power and more torque, and is more relaxed in all situations.
The official economy figures suggest that the Golf should be bettering the Octavia by around 5mpg, but that’s plainly not what’s happening – further proof that the shrinking of diesel (and petrol) engines in an effort to reduce official CO2 emissions doesn’t always have the desired effect on fuel economy.
I’m dying to see what sort of results our True MPG team will get from the Mondeo when Ford starts selling it with the 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol engine.
By Rob Keenan