The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
There’s plenty of reach and rake adjustment for the steering wheel and a good range of movement for the seat, so finding an ideal driving position is easy. SE L First Edition models get a powered driver’s seat with memory function to make getting comfortable even easier. And all Octavias have adjustable lumbar support to help fend off back pain on long journeys.
Another feature that's standard across the range is digital instruments behind the steering wheel, which are easy to read and give you plenty of layout and content options.
Unfortunately, the air-con controls are located within the central touchscreen. True, the temperature icons are always on display at the bottom, but other climate functions are hidden away in one of the menus.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
The Octavia Estate’s large side windows don’t narrow much towards the rear of the car. Factor in relatively thin roof pillars, and you have great all-round visibility that makes it easy to pull out of junctions and see surrounding traffic.
To help relieve parking worries, entry-level SE trim comes with rear parking sensors, with SE Technology and SE L getting front parking sensors, too. A rear-view camera is on the options list, as is a system called Park Assist that will steer the car into a parking space for you.
Also on the options list is a head-up display that projects your speed and other information onto the windscreen. Standard across the range are bright LED headlights that are controlled automatically, as are the wipers, as well as an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. Clever adaptive headlights that allow you to use main beam without blinding other drivers are optional.
Sat nav and infotainment
Helpfully, Skoda has positioned the infotainment touchscreen high on the dashboard so you don’t have to take your eyes far from the road to see it. In entry-level models it's an 8.3in screen with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, as well as a DAB radio. Meanwhile, SE Technology trim and above feature a 10.0in screen with built-in 3D navigation that’s clear and easy to follow.
We’ve tried only the 10.0in system so far and found its large icons to be relatively easy to hit on the move. The graphics look sharp and sophisticated, and the screen is far more responsive than the one in the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports, although that car’s numerous physical shortcut buttons are handier than the Octavia’s two touch-sensitive home and menu icons, which are inconveniently sited at the top left corner of the screen.
SE Technology trim gives you two USB-C ports, while all First Edition cars have five: two in a handy cubby in front of the gearlever, another two for rear seat passengers and another up by the rear-view mirror. If you’re wondering why on earth you’d want one there, it’s to power a dash cam.
Plush, squidgy plastics are present on the top and front of the dashboard and above the armrests on the doors. There are some harder plastics lower down, but these are still pleasingly textured and everything feel solidly screwed together. SE L trim gets a faux suede wrapping to part of its dashboard and this helps to lift the ambience further.
The stalks behind the steering wheel feel good to use, as do the steering wheel buttons, but the metal-effect scroll wheels on the spokes feel a little flimsy. All in all, though, the Octavia is as solid inside as the Corolla but a little plusher, and miles ahead of the Ford Focus.
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