Skoda Octavia Estate revealed
The Octavia Estate is the first of the new VW Group family hatchbacks to spawn an estate model (the others are the Audi A3, Seat Leon and VW Golf.) It uses the longer wheelbase employed by the regular Octavia hatchback, but adds a slightly longer rear overhang and a gently sloping estate car roofline to achieve a large loadbay.
Skoda claims the new model will offer 610 litres of boot space with the rear seats in position; that's only 20 litres more than the hatchback but nearly 80 more than a Ford Mondeo estate.
The rear seats can be lowered using easily accessible handles at either side of the boot; you don't need access via the rear doors to perform the operation. If you do fold down the seats, the Octavia's capacity expands to 1740 litres; that's 140 litres more than you'd get in a Volvo V70, although still more than 100 litres shy of Skoda's larger Estate, the Superb.
The Octavia Estate has a double-height boot floor. In its default position you gain capacity but have to put up with a reasonably big lip at the top edge of the rear bumper. This problem disappears when you raise the boot floor to its upper height; you lose a little space this way but gain a flatter load space and a smaller drop down into the boot.
Other tricks in the boot area include a number of bag hooks and storage compartments, a cargo net and a rubbish bin.
Skoda has played it safe with the styling of the new Octavia hatchback and that approach has been maintained with the Estate. The front end is identical, with the latest Skoda 'family' grille and headlights. At the rear, the Octavia hatchback's sharp creases at either side of the numberplate have been neatly incorporated into the estate's panels. The tail-lights curve around to form part of prominent rear shoulders; their wide position also helps to give the boot as wide an opening as possible.
The car is 90mm longer and 45mm wider than the outgoing model, but the wheelbase stretches by 110mm. Skoda claims this improves cabin space and legroom, particularly for rear-seat passengers.
Inside, the Octavia Estate looks identical to the recently launched hatchback, with premium materials that feel a match for those in the latest, Mk7, VW Golf, a large centre console with a touch-screen and plenty of space for oddments.
The engine line-up will follow that of the regular hatchback, so expect the entry-level models to be powered by a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 104bhp. There will also be a 1.4 TSI with 138bhp, plus a pair of diesels; a 1.6 with 104bhp and a 2.0 with 148bhp.
All Octavia Estates will get the simpler version of the VW Group's chassis set-up, with lighter but less sophisticated rear suspension. That situation won't change until the hot vRS version appears later this year.
The Octavia Estate will go on sale in June, with prices estimated to start at around £17,000.
By John McIlroy