What are they like inside?
Mum and Dad sit very comfortably in the front seats of both these family cars because both have plenty of head and leg room, and whoever is doing the driving will find a decent amount of steering wheel and driver’s seat adjustment. Neither car gets adjustable lumbar support for the front seats, although it’s a cheaper option to add to the Octavia.
Forward and side visibility are good in both cars thanks to their thin pillars and tall windows. Your rearward view is slightly more obscured in the Astra, but Vauxhall offers front and rear parking sensors as an option to aid parking. Only Skoda offers rear sensors as a £350 option, but neither car maker offers a rear-view camera.
In the back, three younger children will easily fit side-by-side in both cars, but three lanky teenagers or adults will find it a squeeze. The Octavia has more head room in the back, and both cars have a decent amount of leg room.
However, when it comes to boot space there’s a clear winner. The Octavia’s load bay isn’t only bigger, it’s the largest in this class, even dwarfing some efforts from classes above. It isn’t perfect; there’s a pronounced lip at its entrance and no height-adjustable boot floor. While the Astra’s boot will easily swallow a couple of medium sized suitcases and two or three holdalls, it can’t keep up in this company.
The Octavia has the classier interior, too. Both cars have piano black accents on their dashboards, but the Octavia’s other plastics are more appealingly textured and everything feels more solidly bolted together. At the centre of both car’s dashboards sits a standard colour touchscreen – 6.5in in the case of the Octavia and 7.0in in the Astra. Both provide good response times and similarly logical menu structures, but the Astra’s larger on-screen buttons are easier to hit on the move.
The Astra goes one better again by coming with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity as standard (it’s a £150 option on the Octavia), which make it easier to use a smartphone via the touchscreen. The Astra rounds off an impressive show of infotainment by also throwing in standard steering wheel-mounted cruise control and audio system buttons, which you can’t get with this Octavia trim level.
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