Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The 148bhp diesel is an impressive performer. Not only can it get the Octavia Estate from 0-62mph in a very respectable 8.8sec but, more importantly, it pulls strongly from low revs. It's a great fit for the car, whether you're travelling one-up or with the family and a boot full of luggage. It certainly feels punchier than the 2.0-litre hybrid Toyota Corolla Touring Sports, despite that car officially having more power.
Still, as good as the 148bhp diesel is, it's worth considering the 1.5-litre petrol; it's similarly quick and a lot cheaper. The only caveat is that you need to work it a bit harder than you do the diesel.
We’ve not yet sampled the manual gearbox, but the optional dual-clutch automatic delivers mostly impressively swift shifts, which aid performance. It's only when you put your foot down hard or try to pull away swiftly – such as when exiting a busy junction – that it can dither and frustrate.
Suspension and ride comfort
The motorway feels like the Octavia Estate’s natural habitat; it can waft along on its softly sprung suspension for mile after mile. Just bear in mind that when you turn off the motorway and onto a more demanding stretch of undulating road, the car does feel a little floaty over crests.
You'll also feel slight jolts over potholes and particularly vicious expansion joints, and the Octavia's body can take a moment to settle after you've traversed a speed hump (like a small boat hitting a sizeable wave), but for the most part it’s more comfortable than direct rivals.
An adaptive suspension system that allows you to stiffen or soften the ride is an optional extra, but not a necessary one.
Despite the softness of its suspension, the Octavia Estate is perfectly capable when it comes to corners. In particular, its steering is precise and has plenty of reassuring weight, providing a good sense of connection to the front tyres.
The Octavia also grips tenaciously through bends. And while it leans more than a Ford Focus Estate or Corolla Touring Sports, so doesn't feel as agile as those cars, it's never anything less than stable and secure.
Noise and vibration
The 2.0-litre diesel engine sends some buzz through the steering wheel that you don't get with the petrol, so you won't be in any doubt about the type of fuel being drunk. However, it's still smoother and quieter than the engines in most direct rivals.
Unfortunately, wind and road noise aren't as well isolated as they are in the Focus Estate, and you hear the suspension working away as it tries to smooth out broken surfaces and potholes.
Lift off the accelerator pedal and automatic Octavias can ‘coast’ out of gear to save fuel, before re-engaging drive smoothly when you put your foot down again. But the stop-start system can frustrate in traffic; it sometimes cuts the engine a bit too soon and takes too long to fire it back up again.
The sweetest-handling family estate, and one that's practical...
The distinctive Renault Megané Sport Tourer is stylish and sop...
With rakish looks, the Proceed offers a touch more glamour tha...
Competent engines, lots of high-tech equipment and a beautiful...