Our cars: Skoda Octavia and Lexus IS

Read the latest updates on the What Car? long-term test fleet. Our database editor has a change of heart about the Skoda Octavia, and the Lexus IS cupholders come in for criticism...

Our cars: Skoda Octavia and Lexus IS

Every day, we take a look at a few of the cars that we are living with. Today, it's the turn of the Skoda Octavia and Lexus IS.

Skoda Octavia

I approached a couple of days with our Skoda Octavia with a feeling of mild trepidation. The last time I’d borrowed it, I was a little critical of it, and I feared the car might remember and seek revenge.

I needn’t have worried. True, the faults were still there – no armrest up front, no audio controls on the steering wheel, the heavy handbrake and the firm ride – but here’s the thing, I enjoyed my weekend in the Octavia, and came away forced to re-evaluate my opinions.

On day one I took it to the Goodwood Festival of Speed, hammering it down the A3, pottering through lovely villages, before eventually completing the 50-mile journey at an average (according to the dash readout) of 47.6mpg; it did 55.7mpg on the way back.

Not only that, the Octavia had masses of room inside for four Pearsons, plenty of punch from the engine, good refinement when the going was straight, and reassuring handling when the going got twisty.

Day two was another chance for it to excel, this time as a load-lugger. Removing the parcel shelf and flipping down the rear seats is the work of seconds, and the load area then presented is mammoth. Alas, it proved a little too shallow to swallow a child’s trampoline, but it took everything else with ease.

I came away from the weekend thinking the Octavia a very good family car indeed, at a very moderate price. In fact, if it weren’t for that stiff ride, I would recommend this Octavia without any trepidation at all.

By Mark Pearson

Read all of our updates on life with our Skoda Octavia 2.0 TDI.

In the car park

A colleague from Practical Motorhome borrows the Lexus IS300h for a long weekend journey. The oddly-positioned cupholders feel her wrath, but at least she’s impressed by the slick hybrid operation.

Read more about our long-term test fleet.