New Skoda Octavia review

Category: Family car

The 2024 Octavia has plenty of pace and practicality for a pocket-friendly price

Skoda Octavia front left driving
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  • Skoda Octavia front left driving
  • Skoda Octavia interior dashboard
  • Skoda Octavia boot open
  • Skoda Octavia infotainment touchscreen
  • Skoda Octavia left driving
  • Skoda Octavia front driving
  • Skoda Octavia front left driving
  • Skoda Octavia rear left driving
  • Skoda Octavia front right static
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  • Skoda Octavia front detail
  • Skoda Octavia headlights detail
  • Skoda Octavia alloy wheel detail
  • Skoda Octavia rear lights detail
  • Skoda Octavia interior front seats
  • Skoda Octavia interior back seats
  • Skoda Octavia interior detail
  • Skoda Octavia front left driving
  • Skoda Octavia front left driving
  • Skoda Octavia interior dashboard
  • Skoda Octavia boot open
  • Skoda Octavia infotainment touchscreen
  • Skoda Octavia left driving
  • Skoda Octavia front driving
  • Skoda Octavia front left driving
  • Skoda Octavia rear left driving
  • Skoda Octavia front right static
  • Skoda Octavia right static
  • Skoda Octavia rear left static
  • Skoda Octavia front detail
  • Skoda Octavia headlights detail
  • Skoda Octavia alloy wheel detail
  • Skoda Octavia rear lights detail
  • Skoda Octavia interior front seats
  • Skoda Octavia interior back seats
  • Skoda Octavia interior detail
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Introduction

What Car? says...

What do the Sony PlayStation and Apple iPhone have in common with the Skoda Octavia? Well, these high achievers are their respective brands' best-selling products. 

Indeed, the Octavia is a pivotal model for Skoda. Since it first appeared as a family hatchback, it's been appealing to anybody with a keen eye on practicality and value. Its underpinnings continue to be shared with the VW Golf but Skoda has increased the distance between the front and rear axles to add more passenger space.

Over the years, the Octavia has pushed steadily upmarket and it’s now so well regarded that it counts premium family cars including the Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class among its rivals. It also competes with more mainstream models such as the Ford Focus, Seat Leon, Toyota Corolla and Vauxhall Astra. You might be tempted by the larger Skoda Superb too, because it's not much more expensive.

To maintain its upwardly mobile trajectory, the latest Octavia has an advanced suite of driver tech, as well a plusher interior and a sharper look than ever before. A mid-life update included revised styling and upgraded tech to keep it fresh among newer rivals.

So, how does the latest Skoda Octavia stack up against the best family cars? Read on to find out...

"The Skoda Octavia has long been a favourite here at What Car?. Sure, it’s never been the most thrilling car to look at or even to drive, but with so much space inside its classy interior and a broad range of engines to choose from, it’s always been incredibly compelling." – Steve Huntingford, Editor

Overview

First and foremost, the Skoda Octavia offers generous space for occupants and a bigger boot than most competitors from the class above, plus its plush interior and frugal engines make it a fantastic car for covering big distances in. The 1.5-litre TSI 150 petrol engine with well-equipped SE L trim is our pick of the range.

  • Plush interior
  • Huge boot
  • Frugal engines
  • Rivals are sharper to drive
  • Touchscreen can be tricky to use on the move
  • Currently no plug-in hybrid option
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Our Pick

OurPicksRRP £31,250
Skoda Octavia 1.5 TSI 150 SE L 5dr review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

The Skoda Octavia's 148bhp diesel engine (badged 2.0 TDI 150PS) is an impressive performer, with a 0-62mph time of just 8.5 seconds. It pulls strongly from low revs, making it a great fit when you're travelling with a full car.

We wouldn’t rule out the cheaper TDI 116 diesel, though. It's less urgent (0-62mph takes 10.0 seconds) but there’s still plenty of low-down shove to keep up with traffic. It’s only available with a six-speed manual gearbox while the more powerful engine comes with a seven-speed automatic.

As good as the 148bhp diesel is, our favourite engine is the 1.5-litre TSI 150 petrol, which is similarly quick. True, you need to work it a bit harder, but it’s keen to do so and its standard six-speed manual gearbox is light and precise. You can also have a seven-speed dual-clutch auto gearbox which is paired with mild-hybrid tech. The auto box shifts down a gear eagerly when you need a burst of acceleration. Both versions sprint from 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds.

Skoda Octavia image
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Below the TSI 150, there's an entry-level 1.5-litre petrol engine with 114bhp and the same gearbox options. It’s slower to rev and doesn’t feel as sprightly when accelerating up to motorway speeds, but it’s powerful enough for town driving.

Those wanting more punch might want to wait for the updated version of the Octavia vRS hot hatch version, with its 2.0-litre petrol gaining a small power increase to produce 261bhp. At the time of writing, Skoda had not confirmed whether the Octavia's plug-in hybrid (PHEV) engine option would return.

Suspension and ride comfort

The Octavia’s natural habitat is the motorway: it can waft along on its softly sprung suspension for mile after mile. The consequence of the soft setup is that it feels a little floaty over crests when you turn off the motorway and on to a more demanding stretch of undulating road.

Potholes and sharp expansion joints can send jolts through the Octavia’s structure, and its body can take a moment to settle after a speed hump. It's rather like being in a small boat hitting a big wave, but for the most part it’s more comfortable than its direct rivals.

The Sportline comes with slightly firmer suspension to reduce the effect. If you prefer a more tightly controlled ride, try the Seat Leon or Toyota Corolla.

An adaptive suspension system that allows you to stiffen or soften the ride is available as an option on SE L trim and above with the more powerful 148bhp engines. It's worth having because it allows you to dial out some of the float, for extra composure over wavy crests that your passengers will thank you for.

Skoda Octavia front left driving

Handling

Despite the softness of its suspension, the Octavia is perfectly capable when it comes to corners. Its steering is precise and has plenty of reassuring weight, providing a good sense of connection to the front tyres.

The Sportline, with its 15mm lowered suspension, resists body lean a little better and its progressive steering setup sharpens up its initial response.

The Octavia grips tenaciously through bends but leans more than a Ford Focus or Seat Leon, meaning that it ultimately doesn’t feel quite as agile. That’s not to say it’s ever anything less than stable and secure though.

Noise and vibration

The 1.5-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel engines both send a slight buzz through the Octavia's seats at higher revs, but it’s far from irritating. While the 1.5-litre petrol is quite vocal when worked hard, it’s far from harsh and the diesel is smoother and quieter than the equivalent engines in most direct rivals.

Unfortunately, wind and road noise aren't as well isolated as they are in a Ford Focus, and you can hear the suspension working away as it tries to smooth out broken surfaces and potholes.

When you lift off the accelerator pedal, automatic Octavias can coast out of gear to save fuel, before re-engaging drive smoothly when you put your foot down again. The stop-start system is smooth and quick to operate on the mild-hybrid engines.

"The Octavia’s soft suspension helps comfort, but when its floaty ride is mixed with a country road, it can leave passengers feeling rather queasy." – Will Nightingale, Reviews Editor

Driving overview

Strengths Punchy performance; grippy handling; composed at high speed

Weaknesses Not as hushed as rivals

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Driving position and dashboard

The Skoda Octavia's steering wheel has lots of reach and rake adjustment and the seat has a good range of movement, so finding the right driving position is easy.

A powered driver’s seat with a memory function does make getting comfortable even easier, but it’s only available on SE L and Sportline models. All Octavias have adjustable lumbar support to help fend off back pain on long journeys.

Another feature that's standard across the range is an easy-to-read 10.3in digital driver's display that takes the place of conventional analogue dials. A head-up display that projects your speed and other information on to the windscreen is an option on SE L trim and above.

Unfortunately, the air-con controls are located in 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. That can prove a distraction if you need to fine-tune the settings while driving.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

The Octavia has large side windows and relatively thin windscreen pillars so looking forwards, or left and right at junctions, is easy.

As with many rivals, when you look back over your shoulder, there are a couple of large pillars in your way, and these tend to obscure what's lurking behind you. We'd also point out that the long, high tail is harder to judge than more upright rivals when reversing.

To help relieve parking worries, all versions come with front and rear parking sensors. A rear-view camera is standard on Sportline trim, while a system called Park Assist that will steer the car into a space for you is part of an expensive Assisted Drive Package Plus.

Bright LED headlights and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror are standard across the range, but they can be upgraded on Sportline trim at a cost to adaptive matrix LED headlights. These are twice as bright as the standard units on full beam and automatically adjust the light pattern to avoid blinding other drivers.

Skoda Octavia interior dashboard

Sat nav and infotainment

Helpfully, Skoda has positioned the infotainment touchscreen in the Octavia high on the dashboard so you don’t have to take your eyes far from the road to see it. All models come with a 13.0in touchscreen, Bluetooth, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, a DAB radio and built-in sat-nav

The system’s graphics look sharp and it responds to inputs quickly enough. You can also add your most frequently used shortcuts to the top corner of the screen for convenience. However, some of the icons could be bigger to make them easier to aim for, and some of the functions (such as for the head-up display and massaging seats) can be difficult to locate in the menus. Helpfully, you can use voice control to switch these on and off for you.

At least you get a row of physical buttons below the touchscreen that takes you directly to some of the menu pages, including the drive modes, climate settings and the park assist function. That said, the infotainment system in the BMW 1 Series has more logical menus and a physical dial controller between the front seats to make it much easier to use while driving. 

You can have up to five USB-C ports in your Octavia: two in a handy cubby in front of the gearlever, another two for rear-seat passengers and another up by the rear-view mirror (to power a dashcam). Wireless phone-charging is also standard.

Quality

Plush, squidgy plastics are present on the top and front of the Octavia's dashboard and above the armrests on the doors. There are some harder plastics lower down, but they're pleasingly textured and everything feels solidly screwed together. SE L trim gets a faux-suede surface for part of the dashboard and a wider range of seating upholstery, lifting 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, the Octavia is as solid inside as the Corolla but a little plusher, and miles ahead of the Focus and Astra. All must bow down to the 1 Series for best in class quality, though.

An eight-speaker audio system is standard, but a 12-speaker upgrade is available as an option on non-mild hybrid versions.

"The touch-sensitive shortcut icons, being on the left-hand side of the screen, proves quite a stretch to reach, especially for shorter drivers." – Claire Evans, Consumer Editor

Interior overview

Strengths Great forward visibility; all versions come with driver’s seat lumbar adjustment; high quality materials used

Weaknesses Some functions could be easier to find

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front space

There’s plenty of space up front in the Skoda Octavia. A very tall driver will be able to get comfortable even with a head room-robbing panoramic glass roof fitted. Storage is better than in most rivals, too: each door pocket can take a 1.5-litre bottle of water and the cooled glovebox is big enough to keep your lunch fresh.

Behind the gearlever are two fixed cupholders that will keep your coffee-to-go secure and, ingeniously, can grip drinks bottles tightly enough that you can twist off the cap with one hand. In front of the gear selector is a handy tray that’s big enough for a large mobile phone to sit next to your house keys and wallet or purse.

There’s also a large covered storage space under the front armrest for hiding electronic devices and other valuables. Like the glove box, it's cooled, so it's ideal for a second round of sandwiches.

Rear space

The Octavia is pretty generous on rear-seat space. Behind a tall driver with their seat pushed back, even taller passengers will be able to lounge in comfort, and there’s loads of elbow room. Anyone regularly carrying giants, should be aware that the Ford Focus and the Seat Leon offer even more rear space.

The middle rear-seat passenger has no choice but to place their feet on either side of the car’s raised central floor hump, but the big footwells mean this isn’t too restrictive. The Octavia’s rear seat is surprisingly wide, making it a very comfortable car for three back-seat passengers to sit side by side in.

A central armrest with two cupholders is standard on all models, and the rear door pockets are a decent size. Every model has a map pocket on the back of each front seat, along with a smaller smartphone pocket, plus sizeable rear door bins. An additional storage tray mounted on top of the centre transmission tunnel is optional as part of the Family Package.

Skoda Octavia boot open

Seat folding and flexibility

In terms of its flexibility, the Octavia is pretty conventional by family car standards. The folding rear seats follow the usual 60/40 split arrangement (the Mercedes A-Class gets a more flexible 40/20/40 split).

We like the fact that they can be folded by levers in the boot, so you don’t have to open a side door before loading that bulky flat-pack furniture you’ve just bought.

Unfortunately, though, the seats don’t lie completely flat when folded, and they leave an awkward step in the extended load area.

Boot space

The Octavia’s boot is not only huge compared with similar-sized rivals, but it also beats most competitors from the class above.

The load area is longer and taller than in most comparably priced hatchbacks, and it’s a practical, squared-off shape. The only downside is that there is quite a significant lip to negotiate when lifting heavy items in and out of it, and there's no option of having an adjustable boot floor.

If you need more boot space, you might also want to consider the Skoda Octavia Estate (which does have an adjustable boot floor).

As standard, there’s a 12V socket, a couple of bag hooks and a couple of fenced-off areas that will stop your de-icer and other boot clutter sliding around. Options include a space-saver spare wheel that sits under the boot floor. An electric tailgate with hands-free gesture control is standard on SE L trim.

"A height-adjustable boot floor would be great, but it's otherwise hard to complain about the Octavia's practicality," – Lawrence Cheung, New Cars Editor

Practicality overview

Strengths Will comfortably fit four occupants; useful boot capacity

Weaknesses Rear seats could be more versatile; no adjustable boot floor

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

The entry-level price of a Skoda Octavia in SE Technology trim is very similar to a Vauxhall Astra. It costs more than the equivalent Seat Leon but less than a Ford Focus or Toyota Corolla.

Even top-end SE L and Sportline will set you back much less than equivalent premium models, such as the Mercedes A-Class.

Skoda is usually generous with deposit contributions, so it’s fair to expect a monthly PCP finance rate that’s competitive with the Leon and undercuts the Astra.

Official CO2 emissions are broadly in line with those of the Focus and the Astra, although the hybrid Corolla and Honda Civic perform noticeably better. If you're looking for a company car that attracts low BIK tax you're likely to be better off with a plug-in hybrid or electric car.

Equipment, options and extras

Entry-level SE Technology trim comes with 16in alloy wheels, heated front seats, keyless ignition, dual-zone climate control and cruise control. It's available with the TSI 116 petrol engine or one of the TDI diesels.

If you go for our recommended TSI 150 petrol engine, you have to step up to SE L trim or higher. That gets you larger 17in alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, ambient lighting, keyless entry, a heated front windscreen and adaptive cruise control.

Sportline is a sportier equivalent to SE L and comes with 18in alloy wheels, a small black rear spoiler, sports front seats and aluminium pedals.

Skoda Octavia infotainment touchscreen

Reliability

The Octavia performed poorly in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey finishing down near the bottom of the 29 family cars polled. It was above the Audi A3 and the VW Golf but behind its other rivals.

In the manufacturer table, Skoda fared better, claiming 16th place out of the 32 included brands. Toyota did far better, claiming second place, but Skoda’s other rivals finished further down the table – Seat taking 18th, BMW 12th, Mercedes 24th and Ford 17th.

If things do go wrong, you’ve got a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty that can be extended to five years and 100,000 miles for a fee. With the Corolla, you can extend the warranty up to 10 years or 100,000 miles if you service your car at a main dealer each year. Kia's class-leading standard warranty gives you seven years or 100,000 miles of cover.

Safety and security

The Octavia received the top five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP and was found to be better at protecting adult occupants than the Focus in the event of a crash. The Corolla scored better marks for side-impact protection than both, but that car didn't perform as well as the Octavia in some front crashes.

Automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assist, traffic-sign recognition and an e-call system that notifies the emergency services if you’re involved in an accident are standard on all models.

Blind-spot monitoring can be added to SE L trim as part of the Assisted Drive Package Plus to warn you of traffic approaching behind you.

"On our carefully controlled test route, an Octavia paired with the 1.5-litre petrol engine averaged a frugal 48.5mpg, beating a rival Seat Leon’s 46.3mpg effort." – Neil Winn, Deputy Reviews Editor

Costs overview

Strengths Well-equipped

Weaknesses Currently no plug-in hybrid option for company car drivers


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FAQs

  • When tested by our team of experienced road testers, the Octavia was awarded the full five stars, which is no mean feat. Compared to its family car rivals, it's more accomplished in most areas, including practicality, quality and value for money.

  • Yes. In fact, thanks to the Octavia’s larger dimensions, you’ll find that it’s far more practical than the VW Golf, with a far superior boot, and more comfortable for passengers in all of the seats.

At a glance
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RRP price range £26,775 - £36,495
Number of trims (see all)4
Number of engines (see all)4
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol, diesel
MPG range across all versions 51.4 - 66.2
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £1,431 / £1,956
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £2,862 / £3,912
Available colours