2020 Skoda Octavia family car revealed: price, specs and release date
In an effort to maintain its place at the top of the family hatchback class, the new Skoda Octavia gets a radically overhauled interior, lots of new technology and even more space...
Priced from £19,000 (est) | On sale January
Even as it nears the end of its life, today's Skoda Octavia remains the best family car on sale, beating the likes of the Audi A3, Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf in our tests, thanks to its combination of practicality, equipment and value. However, with a host of new and updated rivals on the way, Skoda is launching an all-new, fourth-generation version of its biggest-seller.
Highlights include even more interior space, a bigger boot, new technology and better connectivity. Plus, there will be a plug-in hybrid model to sit alongside the petrols and diesels.
The looks have been given a shake-up, too, with the front featuring a deeper grille and narrower, single-unit LED headlights in place of the current split design.
And although the new Octavia is longer and wider than its predecessor, it has a lower roofline in an effort to give it a more coupé-like side profile. As a bonus, this has helped make it the most aerodynamic Octavia to date, which in turn is said to improve fuel economy and CO2 emissions.
2020 Skoda Octavia engines
The plug-in hybrid model, which is called the Octavia iV, uses a turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine and an electric motor to deliver a combined output of 201bhp and provide an official electric-only range of 34 miles. The Octavia iV is also one of the swiftest models in the new line-up, with a 0-62mph time of 7.6sec.
True, the addition of the batteries eats into boot capacity. However, you still get 450 litres of space – more than most conventional-engined rivals offer.
Elsewhere in the range, the 1.0-litre and 1.5-litre turbo petrol engines from the outgoing Octavia are still available, but if you go for a DSG automatic gearbox, you now get 48-volt mild hybrid technology. This allows the car to store energy that would normally be lost under braking and then redeploy it to reduce the strain on the engine and even let it switch off altogether when you're coasting.
Similarly, the familiar 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre diesel engines remain on sale, but now emit up to 80% less NOx than before; this is thanks to the fitment of two sequential catalytic converters that support 'twin dosing' AdBlue treatment.
As well as the standard suspension, there are two other options: a 15mm lower sports set-up and so-called Rough Road suspension which provides 15mm more ground clearance.
Dynamic Chassis Control is an option that automatically adjusts the firmness of the suspension to suit the conditions; specify this and you can also use a slider on the dash to manually alter it, along with the responsiveness of the steering and the speed of automatic gearshifts.
2020 Skoda Octavia interior
The all-new interior features a reshaped, two-spoke steering wheel and a free-standing central infotainment touchscreen. Plus, there's a standard head-up display that projects information on speed, navigation and traffic signs onto the windscreen.
Directly in front of the driver are digital instruments with a choice of four layouts: Basic shows only essential info, Classic brings traditional dials, Navigation gives you a full-screen map and Driver Assistance provides more detailed information about these systems.
Elsewhere, the central infotainment screen has large, clear icons and a row of shortcut buttons to bring up important systems, such as the driving mode and climate control, with one touch. The size of the screen ranges from 8.25in to 10in, and some can be controlled by hand gestures or by talking to Laura, Skoda’s virtual assistant.
Seat comfort is said to have been improved by the introduction of an extendable seat base on all trim levels, while variable lumbar support and an electric massage function are available from mid-range trim levels upwards. You can even specify an 'Ergo' back-friendly seat that’s approved by the German Campaign for Healthier Backs.
2020 Skoda Octavia practicality and equipment
When it comes to practicality, the Octavia has always been the king, and the latest model aims to retain its crown with more room for people and luggage. Rear seat passengers get a little bit more knee room, and boot capacity for the hatch has increased by 10 litres to 600 litres – that’s nearly twice as much as the A3 and Focus offer.
As you’d expect from Skoda, there’s the usual plethora of storage cubbies, including large door bins in the front that will accommodate a good-sized water bottle. And, with families in mind, the car can be specified with up to five USB charging points and a wireless phone charging pad. There’s also a smartphone storage pocket in each of the front seat backs.
Many 'Simply Clever' innovations have been carried over from the previous model, including the ice scraper and tyre tread depth gauge inside the fuel filler flap, storage compartments for high-vis jackets in every door, tablet holders on the headrests and a ticket holder on the driver’s side windscreen pillar.
Safety kit is comprehensive, too, although we don’t yet know which systems will be standard. Those available include collision avoidance, turn assistance, exit warning and a local traffic warning function. There is also an intelligent cruise control system and a hands-on detection system that checks that the driver is touching the steering wheel.
Prices for the new Octavia are still to be announced, but we’d expect it to start at around £19,000 for the entry-level 1.0 petrol, with the 1.5 TSI 150 SE L model that we favour in the current car coming in at around £24,000.
These are competitive with the Focus, but if you’re after a bargain, savings of more than £1000 can be had on the outgoing Octavia through What Car?’s New Car Buying service.
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Best family cars 2019
Hankering for a new family car, but don't want to wait for the new Octavia? Then you'll want to know which current models deserve a place on your shortlist, and which are best avoided, so below and on the next page we name the best and worst.
10. Vauxhall Astra
If you're looking for a spacious family car with low company car tax bills, the Astra is hugely compelling, while big discounts are available for private buyers, too. Just bear in mind that the best rivals now offer better ride comfort and more standard safety kit.
9. Seat Leon
Like its sister car, the Volkswagen Golf, the Leon handles well, has a strong range of engines and features a practical and user-friendly interior. True, some of the plastics feel rather cheap, but this is easier to forgive when you consider how well priced the Leon is.
8. Mercedes A-Class
Safe, good to drive and with a truly spectacular interior, the A-Class is one of the most appealing family cars on sale today. And while the entry-level diesel (A180d) makes most sense for the majority of buyers, the more powerful A250 petrol is also worth considering. For outright comfort, though, a Volkswagen Golf is suppler, while a BMW 1 Series is more exciting in the bends.