A couple of weeks ago I wrote about taking the Octavia to visit my sister in Somerset. The car was pretty good, although I wasn’t that impressed with the ride and driving position.
Both issues are better now, thanks to a little tweakery.
Rather foolishly I assumed that a brand-new car would come with correctly set tyre pressures. The Octavia’s were technically correct, but they were set to the maximum recommended pressure, so were suitable for a car full of people and luggage.
There’s usually just my girlfriend and me in the car, so I dropped the pressures to their standard amount and, hey presto, the ride is better. It’s still a little unsettled, especially around town, but it’s not quite as firm as it was.
I’m now more comfortable behind the wheel, too. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve finally found the ideal combination of backrest angle and lumbar adjustment, or simply me getting used to the seats, but I no longer suffer from backache on long journeys.
This increased comfort will be especially welcome on this weekend’s trip to Devon. Come back next week to find out how the Octavia got on.
By Barnaby Jones
Week ending November 22
Miles driven this week 695
It's hard to extricate yourself from the duvet on these cold, dark mornings, which is why I've been reaching for the thermal undies and the keys to Barnaby’s Skoda Octavia. Why the Skoda? Well, I reckon its heated seats are among the best you’ll find in any car. Their posterior-warming abilities are simply phenomenal; get in on a frosty morning, press the button once and you’ll feel a warming glow within seconds. In fact, leave it on max power for too long and you'll feel like bits of you are on fire – the lowest setting is often good enough.
Not so great on these cold mornings is a rattle that’s coming from the armrest on the front passenger door. It’s incredibly loud and very annoying – turning up the stereo simply isn’t an option. The rattle fades once the plastic whotsit has warmed up, but that can take around half an hour, so I think an early trip to the dealer may be in order.
Week ending November 15
Miles driven this week 641
Our new Skoda Octavia has done its first long journey, from Middlesex to Surrey and my sister’s house in Somerset and back.
That meant a drive across town, plenty of motorway miles and then some country roads. A comprehensive test for any car, in other words.
The Octavia was mostly good, if not quite as impressive as I’d hoped. The light, precise controls helped make it effortless to drive, which was particularly welcome during the usual weekend traffic jam on the M25. The good visibility helped when changing lanes, too.
There was loads of space inside, and the underfloor storage area in the boot (there’s no spare wheel as standard) was the perfect size for holding a bottle of wine for my sister and a load of sweets for my niece and nephew. Everyone also thought the Octavia looked pretty smart, and the Race Blue paint went down particularly well.
I just wish the ride was better at smoothing out bumps and that there was less road noise on coarse surfaces. The Octavia isn’t uncomfortable or tiring to drive; it’s simply not as supple or hushed as I thought it’d be. I’m also not totally settled in the driver’s seat, but hopefully some more fiddling with the backrest’s angle and the lumbar support will sort things.
Having said that, after eight hours at the wheel in a day, I still got out feeling that the Octavia is a thoroughly decent way to travel. Its next big trip – visiting my girlfriend’s parents in Devon – is already planned, so I’ll report back soon on what’s it like on an even longer journey.
By Barnaby Jones
Week ending November 8
Current mileage 229
Miles driven this week 229
This is my new long-term test car, a Skoda Octavia. It replaces my previous Skoda family car, the budget-entry Rapid, and is primarily designed to offer more cabin and boot space than similarly priced rivals.
This is the 2.0-litre diesel version is mid-spec SE trim, which is our favourite of the more expensive Octavias. It’s only £900 more than a 1.6-litre diesel model, yet is hardly any less economical or tax-efficient. It’s also considerably faster and has a six-speed manual gearbox (the 1.6 makes do with a five-speed), so will be better on my regular long journeys to Somerset and Devon.
At £20,140, it’s excellent value for money, too. Not only has it got that strong and efficient engine, it comes with dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth, a digital radio and a touch-screen infotainment system as standard.
I wanted a few other toys, though, so added the Amundsen sat-nav (£550), heated front seats, windscreen and washer jets (£430), an Apple-specific audio connection (£100) and carpet mats (£50). Add £495 for Race Blue metallic paint and the total is £21,765.
Early impressions are mostly good. There’s plenty of adjustment to the driving position, the cabin looks pretty upmarket and feels well made, and the Octavia is easy to drive. The low-speed ride isn’t as settled as I’d have hoped (I stuck with the standard – and modest-looking – 16-inch wheels for maximum comfort), but it’ll be interesting to see how the ride fares on faster roads.
The Octavia is off to the West Country this weekend, so that’ll be the perfect opportunity to put this to the test, and to see how the car compares with the Rapid. Check back next week to see how the Octavia got on.