As a family car, the Octavia Estate ticks all the important boxes. It’s stable, precise, and confidence inspiring, even when being driven quickly. The light steering also helps to make town manoeuvres and parking easy.
All but entry-level S and 1.0-litre petrol models have variable driving modes graded Eco, Normal and Sport. They affect the throttle response and steering weight, the responsiveness of the automatic gearbox, if one is fitted, and the climate control. It’s not something that makes a vast difference to your life: Sport mode just makes the steering heavier, which in turn makes it feel less wieldy rather than more sporty. Leave it in Normal and the Octavia is at its most satisfying and a relaxing car to drive.
Four-wheel drive is available on the 2.0 TDI engines and standard on the Scout model. It’s an on-demand system, so doesn’t use fuel unnecessarily, but we’d only recommend it if you regularly tackle poor conditions or treacherous tracks. For most people the front-wheel drive models will be more than grippy enough.
Scouts may sit a bit higher, but they don’t roll a great deal more than the standard estate. At the other end of the spectrum, the Octavia vRS models’ stiffer suspension delivers better body control, but they don’t scythe into corners as keenly as some rivals, including the Ford Focus ST Estate and Seat Leon Cupra ST.