Our cars: Skoda Octavia 2.0 TDI - November

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  • New addition to the What Car? fleet
  • 2.0 TDI SE costing £20,140
  • Run by Barnaby Jones
  • User-friendliness isn't a strength of the Octavia's touch-screen sat-nav system

    User-friendliness isn't a strength of the Octavia's touch-screen sat-nav system

  • Our Octavia regularly does more than 50mpg, and nearer 60 is pretty easy to achieve

    Our Octavia regularly does more than 50mpg, and nearer 60 is pretty easy to achieve

  • Rain water collects on our Octavia's sill, where it stays until the door is opened

    Rain water collects on our Octavia's sill, where it stays until the door is opened

  • The Octavia's numberplate is coming away from the metal, leaving it to rattle when the tailgate is closed

    The Octavia's numberplate is coming away from the metal, leaving it to rattle when the tailgate is closed

  • We still haven't found anyone tall enough to feel cramped in the rear seats

    We still haven't found anyone tall enough to feel cramped in the rear seats

  • Octavia's driving position is comfortable, and its steering, pedals and gearshift are light and precise

    Octavia's driving position is comfortable, and its steering, pedals and gearshift are light and precise

  • 'His and hers' climate control allows both people up front to keep their cool

    'His and hers' climate control allows both people up front to keep their cool

  • A photographer's gear holds no fear for the Octavia's massive boot

    A photographer's gear holds no fear for the Octavia's massive boot

  • Our Octavia is easy and effortless to drive, which makes it a pleasure to commute in

    Our Octavia is easy and effortless to drive, which makes it a pleasure to commute in

  • There's concern that this boot pull will appeal to chewing dogs

    There's concern that this boot pull will appeal to chewing dogs

  • One Octavia driver is finding it tricky to select first gear from reverse

    One Octavia driver is finding it tricky to select first gear from reverse

  • Whatever the gear, whatever the speed, our 2.0-litre diesel Octavia feels far faster than the 1.6

    Whatever the gear, whatever the speed, our 2.0-litre diesel Octavia feels far faster than the 1.6

  • Octavia was good at family transport on a trip to Goodwood on Saturday...

    Octavia was good at family transport on a trip to Goodwood on Saturday...

  • ...then good at transporting unwanted family stuff on the Sunday

    ...then good at transporting unwanted family stuff on the Sunday

  • Octavia was impressively economical on holiday to Belgium, if not outstanding as a taxi

    Octavia was impressively economical on holiday to Belgium, if not outstanding as a taxi

  • Huge Octavia was hugely useful as cycling holiday transport, as was friend's Vauxhall Zafira

    Huge Octavia was hugely useful as cycling holiday transport, as was friend's Vauxhall Zafira

  • A punchy 2.0-litre diesel engine and a six-speed gearbox equals excellent economy

    A punchy 2.0-litre diesel engine and a six-speed gearbox equals excellent economy

  • Amundsen sat-nav system is good value at £550; it's simple to use and has clear graphics

    Amundsen sat-nav system is good value at £550; it's simple to use and has clear graphics

  • This 4x4 Octavia rides better than our front-wheel-drive model, but it's still not quite supple enough

    This 4x4 Octavia rides better than our front-wheel-drive model, but it's still not quite supple enough

  • The oil temperature display is invaluable – or at least we think it is

    The oil temperature display is invaluable – or at least we think it is

  • Unlike those in some modern cars, the Octavia's glovebox is usefully large

    Unlike those in some modern cars, the Octavia's glovebox is usefully large

  • The Octavia's rattle has finally been fixed by Marlborough Skoda, Isleworth...

    The Octavia's rattle has finally been fixed by Marlborough Skoda, Isleworth...

  • ...even if the door panel wasn't to blame, as originally thought

    ...even if the door panel wasn't to blame, as originally thought

  • The Octavia is superb bike transport...

    The Octavia is superb bike transport...

  • ...not least because my bike fits in whole

    ...not least because my bike fits in whole

  • The ride is fidgety and picks up on too many bumps, but it's far from unacceptable

    The ride is fidgety and picks up on too many bumps, but it's far from unacceptable

  • Our 2.0-litre diesel Octavia is great at making motorway miles melt away

    Our 2.0-litre diesel Octavia is great at making motorway miles melt away

  • Standard touch-screen system reacts even before you've touched the screen – clever

    Standard touch-screen system reacts even before you've touched the screen – clever

  • Driving Mode Selection button doesn't make much difference to how the car feels, so is hardly used

    Driving Mode Selection button doesn't make much difference to how the car feels, so is hardly used

  • We wish we'd spent £150 for audio controls on the steering wheel

    We wish we'd spent £150 for audio controls on the steering wheel

  • Readout is probably optimistic, but still better than Ed managed in a 1.6 TDI version

    Readout is probably optimistic, but still better than Ed managed in a 1.6 TDI version

  • Bag hooks are big, sturdy and useful – a prime example of our Skoda being 'simply clever'

    Bag hooks are big, sturdy and useful – a prime example of our Skoda being 'simply clever'

  • The wrong door panel was delivered, so the original (rattling) one is still in place

    The wrong door panel was delivered, so the original (rattling) one is still in place

  • Open wide: Octavia's boot is so big, we had to photograph it from far away

    Open wide: Octavia's boot is so big, we had to photograph it from far away

  • New passenger door panel is needed to fix the rattle; it's been ordered, so all should be quiet soon

    New passenger door panel is needed to fix the rattle; it's been ordered, so all should be quiet soon

  • Octavia's underfloor boot storage space is handy, if rarely used

    Octavia's underfloor boot storage space is handy, if rarely used

  • The Octavia's £495 Race Blue metallic paint hides the winter dirt well

    The Octavia's £495 Race Blue metallic paint hides the winter dirt well

  • Octavia did us proud over the Christmas break; Dartmoor views weren't bad, either

    Octavia did us proud over the Christmas break; Dartmoor views weren't bad, either

  • Friendly nudge to not leave your phone on display

    Friendly nudge to not leave your phone on display

  • Cavernous boot space is a stretch to get to the back of

    Cavernous boot space is a stretch to get to the back of

  • The Octavia's quality and 'honesty' impressed colleague Stephen Hopkins

    The Octavia's quality and 'honesty' impressed colleague Stephen Hopkins

  • Octavia was fine transport for weekend trip to the Devon countryside

    Octavia was fine transport for weekend trip to the Devon countryside

  • A bit of tyre pressure tweakery has improved the ride

    A bit of tyre pressure tweakery has improved the ride

  • Maximum seat heat should be used only in extreme winter conditions

    Maximum seat heat should be used only in extreme winter conditions

  • The Octavia getting the thumbs up from my family

    The Octavia getting the thumbs up from my family

  • Our Octavia (on the left) has replaced our Rapid

    Our Octavia (on the left) has replaced our Rapid

  • The Octavia offers loads of space for a very reasonable price

    The Octavia offers loads of space for a very reasonable price

  • Our 2.0-litre diesel model in SE trim is £20,140, before options

    Our 2.0-litre diesel model in SE trim is £20,140, before options

  • Interior looks and feels classy; it's got plenty of equipment, too

    Interior looks and feels classy; it's got plenty of equipment, too

  • Boot is massive – and there's extra storage beneath the floor

    Boot is massive – and there's extra storage beneath the floor

  • The 2.0-litre diesel engine is strong, smooth and pretty quiet

    The 2.0-litre diesel engine is strong, smooth and pretty quiet

  • The ride is a bit unsettled, especially on urban roads

    The ride is a bit unsettled, especially on urban roads

  • Plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustment, so it's easy to get comfortable

    Plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustment, so it's easy to get comfortable

  • Octavia handles neatly and has nicely weighted steering

    Octavia handles neatly and has nicely weighted steering

  • There's loads of space back here, even for the tallest adults

    There's loads of space back here, even for the tallest adults

  • Octavia is generally hushed, apart from road noise on coarse surfaces

    Octavia is generally hushed, apart from road noise on coarse surfaces

  • Apple-specific audio connection is £100, then it's £50 for the lead!

    Apple-specific audio connection is £100, then it's £50 for the lead!

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Skoda Octavia 2.0 TDI 150 SE

Week ending November 29
Mileage 2302
Miles driven this week 737

Read the full Skoda Octavia review

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
Barnaby.Jones@whatcar.com


Week ending November 22

Mileage 1565
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.

By Rob Keenan


Week ending November 15
Mileage 870
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
Barnaby.Jones@whatcar.com




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.

Barnaby.Jones@whatcar.com

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