Skoda Octavia iV Estate long-term test: report 1

The Skoda Octavia Estate has a five-star What Car? rating, but does the plug-in hybrid version continue to impress when you live with it every day?...

Skoda Octavia Estate LT

The car Skoda Octavia Estate 1.4 TSI iV SE L Run by Mark Pearson, used cars editor

Why it’s here A category winner in our recent Electric Car Awards, we now want to see if the Octavia hits the mark in everyday use

Needs to Prove it’s more than just a practical wagon. It’ll need to dispatch commuting work and family life with flair, and deliver impressive real-world fuel economy 

Miles covered 5270 Price £34,255 Target price £32,629 Price as tested £37,045 Official economy 246.1mpg Test economy 83mpg Options fitted Winter Pack (£950), 19in Becrux anthracite alloy wheels (£910); metallic pearlescent paint (£595) and wireless phone charging (£355)

7 April – The one where I say hello to my new estate car 

Call me old-fashioned, but I rather like a good estate car. I know, years ago they were viewed as poor relations to the saloons or hatchbacks on which they were based, but in more recent times that's turned around, with estates often being the better-looking as well as the more practical choice.

What's more, they’re often more competent dynamically than the plethora of MPVs and SUVs that have tried to oust them as everyday family transport. 

Take the Skoda range as an example. While knocking out a fair number of rather excellent SUVs in the past few years, it’s also offered estate cars ranging in size from the bijou Fabia up to the enormous Superb. In the middle, like Baby Bear’s porridge, sits the Octavia Estate, a car that through its various generations has impressed us with its practicality, affordability and relaxed ride. The latest version was launched a couple of years ago and is the most sophisticated version to date. 

Skoda Octavia Estate LT

So, I’ve taken a punt and put one on my driveway. But it’s not just any Skoda Octavia Estate; it’s the 1.4 TSI iV plug-in hybrid Skoda Octavia Estate, which means that under its bonnet sits a 1.4-litre petrol engine linked to an electric motor and battery.

It’s the same unit you’ll find in the latest Volkswagen Golf GTE, and it produces a rather healthy-sounding 201bhp. But that’s not the real headline figure here. You see, as a plug-in hybrid, the iV officially has the ability to travel on electric power alone for a distance of up to 41 miles, which is a very competitive figure. 

Indeed, we like this model so much and are so enamoured of its potential economy and low running costs that we actually named it our best hybrid estate at our recent Electric Car Awards, citing also its punchy performance, huge interior space and a boot you could build a barn in. 

Skoda Octavia Estate LT

On top of that, all Octavia Estates are well-kitted out. Mine is in SE L trim, which is the third run of four in the Octavia range, and comes with a whole host of desirable goodies, including privacy glass, power-folding door mirrors, suede trim, heated front seats, adaptive cruise control, auto lights and wipers. and keyless entry and start. 

I’ve still added a few extras, though. Firstly, the Winter Pack brings heated front and rear seats, tri-zone climate control, a heated steering wheel, a heated windscreen and heated windscreen washer nozzles. Then I resisted everything except temptation and specced the neat-looking 19in Becrux anthracite alloy wheels, which, despite the name, aren’t made out of coal, they’re just a rather fashionable shade of silver. 

For me, you see, Octavias riding on smaller wheels look a little gawkish, with the wheels rather lost in the large wheel arches, whereas mine pad out the space nicely and give the car a distinctly hunkered-down and four-square appearance that I rather like.

Skoda Octavia Estate LT

Adding to this butched-up look is the metallic pearlescent paintwork, in a colour called Black Magic Pearl Effect, which to my eyes is the finishing touch that transforms my family estate into something more purposeful.

Inside, first impressions are favourable, too. The driving position is multi-adjustable, although taller drivers might find themselves feeling as though they’re sitting rather high, even on the lowest setting (the flip side of that is excellent visibility all round). There's also a nicely tactile steering wheel with shortcut controls for a number of functions and just two spokes, which is very à la mode. 

Start the car up and, oh, of course, there’s no sound at all, as long as you’ve remembered to plug it in. In a world of sound and fury and noise and haste, such quietness is to be welcomed, The question is, can I keep it this quiet, that is to say, charged up ready for short hops, the better to maximise that potential economy?

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