You might imagine the entry-level 1.2 petrol engine would struggle to haul around a car this big, but it’s easily up to the job, pulling strongly from just 1400rpm. The range-topping 148bhp 2.0 diesel is seriously strong and flexible. We’ve yet to try the 1.4 TSI and 1.6 TDI models.
For the most part, the Octavia rides comfortably enough. You feel more of bumps than you do in a VW Golf, but they don’t thump through to the cabin like they do in the smaller Rapid. The Octavia isn't quite as agile as a Ford Mondeo, but the body doesn't lollop around through tight twists and turns, and there's plenty of grip.
The Octavia’s petrol engines are smooth and quiet, although the diesels are a tad noisy compared with the same engines in the VW Golf, and you feel more vibration through the pedals. There’s some wind noise on the motorway, but road noise is well suppressed and the gearchange is slick and accurate.
The Octavia costs less to buy and run than most of its rivals – no matter if you’re a private buyer or a company car driver. The entry-level 1.2 TSI undercuts the equivalent VW Golf by a fair chunk, for example, and both the 1.6 and 2.0 TDI models cost significantly less to run as company cars than a Ford Mondeo. Fuel economy is impressive for such a large car, too.
The Octavia's cabin shames those of many more expensive cars for its quality and finish – it’s even a match for the VW Golf. All the materials feel plush and solid, while the gaps between panels are tight and regular. The Octavia is was too new to be included in the most recent JD Power ownership satisfaction survey, but the previous model was awarded ‘excellent’ marks for mechanical reliability.
All Octavias have seven airbags as standard, and rear side airbags are available as an optional extra. Other standard safety features include stability control and electronic brakeforce distribution. The Octavia has also received the full five-star crash test rating from Euro NCAP.
Masses of adjustment in the steering wheel and driver's seat allows people of all shapes and sizes to get comfortable. The seats are generally supportive, too, although ideally we’d prefer a bit more shoulder support. The dashboard is logically laid out, and the touch-screen infotainment system is one of the best around. Over-the-shoulder vision isn’t great, though
The Octavia is closer in size to a Ford Mondeo than a Focus. Six-foot adults can comfortably sit behind similar-sized front occupants with legroom to spare. The boot is enormous and suffers from no suspension intrusions, although when the rear seats are tipped forward, there's an annoying step in the floor.
The Octavia is available in three trims – S, SE and Elegance – and even the cheapest of these gives you air-conditioning, alloy wheels, Bluetooth, a DAB radio, a six-disc CD changer and a USB socket. Stepping up to SE trim adds rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, front foglights and rear electric windows, while range-topping Elegance cars have sat-nav, larger alloys, leather seats, cruise control and automatic lights and wipers.
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