Priced from £20,815 Release date On sale now
If you open a Skoda Octavia price list today, you're in for a small surprise. That's because while stock still exists, there are two 148bhp turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engines on sale: a 1.4-litre unit and a 1.5.
Soon, once all the 1.4s have found homes, the newer 1.5 (named the TSI Evo) will take over. The 1.5 has the same power at its top end as the 1.4 and the same torque – or pull – from low revs, but it trades a tenth of a second in sprint time for better fuel economy and emissions.
Here we're trying it in a Skoda Octavia Estate, one of our favourite load luggers. The old 1.4 TSI was our pick of the engines, so does it pass the baton on to this slightly larger version?
2017 Skoda Octavia 1.5 TSI Evo Estate on the road
We loved the 1.4 TSI for how punchy it was to drive from low revs, its willingness to be revved and just how quiet and smooth it was, no matter how hard you pushed it. Perhaps not surprisingly, this new 1.5 is all of those things – save, perhaps, for its low-end flexibility. It's certainly never frustrating, and Skoda assures us the new 1.5 has the same torque figures over the same band of revs. But the 1.5-litre Octavia doesn't feel quite as lively when you need a burst of acceleration for a quick overtake.
However, you can still rev the 1.5 as hard as you like and it'll never sound thrashy, while next to no vibration is transmitted back through the car's steering column or pedals. Skoda's slick six-speed manual gearbox remains, too.
The Octavia has never been a car with particularly engaging handling; it has always been about grippy, confidence-inspiring cornering, rather than urging you to explore its limits. The estate remains just that, with relatively slow steering but precise, well-controlled body movements and high grip levels.
Overall ride quality is good, with a comfortable high-speed gait and the ability to sponge away speed bumps and crests nicely. Only potholes and ruts with sharp edges send a thump into the cabin – especially in models fitted with optional (£750) 18in alloy wheels – with most urban fidget kept at bay.
And just as the Octavia's new engine does a good job of keeping schtum, its interior is a relaxing place to be at all speeds. There's some road noise over coarse surfaces but nothing too bad, while wind noise, even on the motorway, is minimal.
2017 2017 Skoda Octavia 1.5 TSI Evo Estate interior
The Skoda Octavia Estate has recently had a facelift, but its dimensions didn't change. You can read about what it's like inside in more detail over on our full Skoda Octavia Estate review.
In short, it's one of the most spacious estates in the class. The driver is treated to a good driving position that has a wide range of adjustment and four adults will sit in complete comfort. Behind them sits a simply staggering boot that eclipses most rivals for space, is a practical shape and has superb access.
Interior quality – defined by the materials used and the solidity of its build – is impressive, too, although not class-leading. And Skoda's touchscreen infotainment systems are among the best of their type. An 8.0in version (pictured) is standard, while a larger 9.2in version with sat-nav is optional (£1050) on SE L-trim cars. Both are high in resolution and easy to navigate; we just wish they had physical menu buttons rather than touch-sensitive ones, which are harder to hit on the move.
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