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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For The Octavia is a well built, solid, reliable workhorse that’s perfectly good to drive, too

Against It's not the largest family estate, and some of its engines could be quieter

Verdict It's a good choice of practical family transport that should give reliable motoring

Go for… 1.9-litre turbodiesel

Avoid… 1.6-litre petrol

Skoda Octavia Estate
  • 1. The timing belts can snap on 1.8 20v engines
  • 2. The driving position provides a good range of seat and steering wheel adjustment
  • 3. Legroom in the rear is very limited
  • 4. The boot is large, and the seats fold down to form a spacious, well-shaped load area
  • 5. The 1.9-litre turbodiesel provides the best blend of economy and performance
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Skoda Octavia Estate full review with expert trade views

Introduced in 1998, the Octavia was the car that really turned Skoda around. It was the first of its fleet to be designed and built under Volkswagen’s stewardship, and it shows.

Behind the wheel, everything feels nicely put together and it's all well laid out. Getting a decent driving position should be no problem, thanks to a good range of seat and steering wheel adjustment. And, the seats are well bolstered, remaining comfortable even on long motorway journeys. However, back-seat occupants are not so well catered for, with an obvious lack of legroom.

Practicality is good, though, even if the mid-sized Octavia can’t match the more commodious Peugeot 406 estate. The boot is large, and the seats fold down to produce a spacious and well shaped load area.

There is a wide range of variants to choose from, including a hot 180bhp vRS. The drive on all models, though, is competent and capable, rather than outright exciting.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

VW components and engines - 130 PD engine is superb. Cheap family car with solid reliability

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

If you're after a countryside hauler that's going to earn its living in all weathers, the 4x4 Elegance - introduced in 2001 - could be the car for you. It uses a 150bhp, 20-valve, 1.8-litre petrol turbo motor. There’s only one other version that’s faster - the high-spec 180bhp vRS, which was introduced a year later.

If you’re not after performance, either of the 1.9-litre turbodiesels will do the job. They were around right from the car's launch, and sound a little clattery on start-up, but quieten down once on the move. Overall, they're the pick of the range, and the non-turbo 1.9 SDI diesel and the 1.6-litre and early non-turbo 1.8-litre petrols are not so impressive.

Safety is good across the range, with most models getting twin airbags and anti-lock brakes. Classic trim is basic, but Ambiente adds air-con and a CD changer, while Elegance gets side airbags, alloy wheels and a sunroof.

Trade view

John Owen

If you can live with the badge, buy one - Skoda is no longer the object of ridicule

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

Even though this Octavia was the first Skoda to make the breakthrough in quality, it’s still better news for buyers than sellers, with many bargains to be had.

Various surveys and studies have acknowledged that this is not an expensive car to run, even if the 10,000-mile service intervals do not seem especially lengthy by modern standards. Dealer charges have increased, but they are still below the class average.

Insurance costs are reasonable, too. Apart from the hot vRS in group 16, the rest of the range falls between groups 5 and 11.

You can’t expect fantastic fuel economy if you opt for either of the two turbocharged 1.8-litre petrols because they’ll all too easily dip below 30mpg in everyday use. All the more reason, then, to go for either of the two 1.9-litre turbodiesels, where 40mpg is obtainable with a little careful throttle use.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

VW components and engines - 130 PD engine is superb. Cheap family car with solid reliability

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

If you can find a well maintained, privately sold 1.9 TDI with a full service record at the right price, snap it up. However, it’s not only private motorists who have recognised the Octavia Estate’s virtues, and sadly company car and taxi drivers may not have looked after their charges as well.

Have a good look around for usual tell-tale signs of misuse and abuse, such as scuffed bumpers, shaved alloy wheels and dodgy paint repairs.

At least the Octavia enjoys a good reputation for reliability as its strong showing over the years in our What Car? JD Power Reliability Index reflects.

Not that there are no problems to look out for, of course. Avoid 1.8-litre 20v engines that haven’t had their timing belts replaced by 70,000 miles. The 1.6 engines can also suffer timing belt trouble, but unlike the 1.8, this rarely results in a wrecked engine.

Trade view

John Owen

If you can live with the badge, buy one - Skoda is no longer the object of ridicule

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford
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