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 a memory function to make getting comfortable even easier. All Octavias have adjustable lumbar support to help fend off back pain on long journeys.
Another feature that's standard across the range is a digital instrument display that takes the place of conventional analogue dials. The instruments are easy to read, and you get plenty of layout and content options.
Unfortunately, the air conditioning 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. This can prove a distraction if you need to fine tune the settings whilst driving.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
With large side windows and relatively thin windscreen pillars, looking forwards, or left and right at junctions, is easy. But, like many of its rivals, when you look back over your shoulder in the Octavia there are a couple of large pillars in your way, and these tend to obscure what's lurking behind the car. We'd also point out that its long, high tail is harder to judge than more upright rivals when reversing.
To help relieve parking worries, entry-level SE First Edition trim comes with rear parking sensors, and SE Technology, SE L and SE L First Edition get 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. Bright LED headlights and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror are standard across the range.
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 8.25in screen with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, as well as a DAB radio. Meanwhile, SE Technology, SE L and SE L First Edition cars feature a 10.0in screen with built-in 3D navigation that’s clear and easy to follow.
We’ve only tried 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. That said, the infotainment systems in both the Mercedes A Class and BMW 1 Series have more logical menus, and both supplement their touchscreens with a physical controller between the front seats, making them much easier to use while driving. The Octavia has to make do with two touch-sensitive home and menu icons, which are inconveniently sited at the top left corner of the screen.
SE Technology and SE L Trim give 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 dashcam.
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 feels solidly screwed together. SE L and SE L First Edition trims get a faux suede wrapping to part of their dashboard, helping 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, then, the Octavia is as solid inside as the Corolla but a little plusher, and miles ahead of the Focus. All must bow down to the BMW 1 Series for best in class quality, however.
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