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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For Great build quality; reliability

Against Pricey; entry-level cars are short on safety kit

Verdict A great used car, but it can be rare

Go for… 1.6 FSI Ambiente

Avoid… 1.4 Classic

Skoda Octavia Hatchback
  • 1. Flywheel can cause serious problems on 2.0-litre diesel - make sure recall work was done
  • 2. The timing belt tensioners on 1.6-litre petrols can give problems
  • 3. The Octavia's boot is enormous
  • 4. The cabin feels solid and plush
  • 5. There's a little wind noise from the car's front pillars at motorway speeds
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Skoda Octavia Hatchback full review with expert trade views

This generation of Skoda's Octavia is based on Volkswagen's MkV Golf, and is almost as good to drive. It rides well over poor surfaces, and the handling is agile, yet stable. The only weakness in dynamics is the slightly numb steering. The cabin is quiet when on the move, with just a little wind noise.

The Octavia is roomier than the VW Golf, and feels more like a family-sized car. There's space inside for five, along with a generous boot space. Everything feels solid and durable, even though it is short on visual flair.The Octavia range underwent a comprehensive refresh in late 2008, including a face-lift, a revision to model names and a range of new engines.

Trade view

The Octavia vRS may not have the kerb appeal of a Golf GTI, but it’s just as fast and even more practical.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Avoid the underpowered 80bhp 1.4-litre petrol model, and look for the 115bhp 1.6 FSI. It’s refined, relatively economical and reasonably priced. There's also a 148bhp 2.0 FSI engine, while a 158bhp 1.8 TSI engine was added to the line-up in June 2007. The 197bhp 2.0 TFSI vRS is as fast as a Golf GTI, but is a little more practical.

Diesel has always been a popular option with Octavia buyers, and there’s a 105bhp, 1.9- or a 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel to choose between. There's also a hot 168bhp vRS version of the 2.0-litre.

In 2009, newer, more-efficient engines were introduced. The turbocharged 104bhp 1.2-litre is surprisingly punchy, while the 120bhp 1.4 TSI is worthy of consideration. A new 104bhp 1.6-litre diesel replaced the ageing 1.9-litre diesel, along with an ultra-fugal Greenline edition.

Classic trim is too basic, but Ambiente has all the essentials, including climate control, alloy wheels and electric windows all round. The Elegance gives cruise control and parking sensors, while the high-end Laurin & Klement trims include an automatic gearbox, metallic paint and leather upholstery. In 2009, the two lowest trims were renamed S and SE.

Curtain airbags and stability control aren't standard on the lower models.

Trade view

Many buyers look for a diesel Octavias, but the 1.6 FSI model is a cost-effective option for those with low annual mileages.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

The Octavia has a reputation for reliability, and Skoda does very well in the JD Power customer satisfaction survey - typically finishing in the top three.

The frugal 1.6 FSI model does an average of 42.8mpg, while the earlier versions of the two diesels average 57.6mpg and 51.4mpg. The 2.0-litre petrol engine does 38.2 and the hot vRS averages 35.8mpg.

The newer engines from 2008 improved efficiency, with the 1.2 TSI averaging 49.6mpg and the 1.4 TSI 44.8mpg. The larger petrol and diesel engines were also improved; the hot 2.0-litre vRS jumped to 37.7mpg and the 2.0-litre diesel was boosted to 58.9mpg. The newer 1.6-litre diesel averages 62.8mpg, with the Greenline edition returning an impressive average of 74.3mpg.

The smallest petrol and diesel models fall into the lowest emissions bands, so you’ll pay little in the way of road tax. The hot vRS model emits 175g/km of CO2 and the two 2.0-litre diesels have emissions between 126g/km and 149g/km Servicing costs are roughly the same as rivals', such as the Ford Focus and VW Golf, but there are plenty of reputable independent garages who can do it for less.

The entry-level 1.4-litre has an impressively low insurance rating of group 7, but most other cars range between groups 13-30.

Trade view

The Octavia vRS may not have the kerb appeal of a Golf GTI, but it’s just as fast and even more practical.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Despite the reputable build quality, some owners have complained about items of interior trim coming loose, especially around the dashboard.

All engines, apart from the 1.6 and 2.0 FSI, need their cambelts changed once every 60,000 miles or four years. You need to make sure this has been carried out; the 1.4-litre petrol unit has a history of cambelt failures, which can lead to a wrecked engine. Get the cambelt inspected if you’re in any doubt.

Occasionally the rear washer tank can leak screen wash into the boot, so lift the carpet and look for signs of damp.

A handful of owners have also complained about the door seals leaking, letting water into the footwells. Damp patches or musty smells in the cabin are a giveaway.

A small number of owners have also complained about the diesel particulate filter failing, generating a warning light on the dashboard.

Trade view

Many buyers look for a diesel Octavias, but the 1.6 FSI model is a cost-effective option for those with low annual mileages.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor
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