Skoda Octavia hatchback performance
You might imagine the entry-level 1.0-litre petrol engine would struggle to haul around a car as big as the Octavia, but it’s easily up to the job; it's great around town and on the motorway. It’s so good, in fact, that if you rarely carry lots of passengers or luggage, you could live without the costlier, higher-powered engines.
However, when you're travelling with the car loaded up, the punchier 148bhp 1.5 TSI 150 petrol copes better. In normal use, it’ll crack the 0-60mph dash in as little as 8.4sec (tested by us) – that is pretty sprightly and far quicker than the similarly priced Ford Focus 1.0 Ecoboost 125 can manage. All in all, we reckon it’s the pick of the range.
Performance from the 1.6-litre diesel is adequate, but the most recommendable diesel option is the 148bhp 2.0 TDI 150, which is strong and flexible. The sporty vRS models (you can read a review for that here) come with a choice of 2.0-litre petrol or diesel engines that are both effortlessly quick.
A quick-changing dual-clutch automatic gearbox is available on all engines.
Skoda Octavia hatchback ride
For the most part, the Octavia is comfortable. That’s particularly the case at higher speeds, making it an easy-going, long-distance cruiser. However, around town, it fidgets over rippled or undulating surfaces, and a harsh pothole or expansion joint can send a noticeable thump through the interior. The Octavia is never outright uncomfortable, but it’s not as accomplished as rivals such as the Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf.
Skoda does offer adaptive suspension as an option on the Octavia (although not on the 1.0 petrol and 1.6 diesel models). This helps to settle the car over edgier bumps, although the impact of sizeable imperfections will still breach the interior. So while the system does deliver an improvement, its impact isn't big enough to justify the extra cost. We’d also save money and avoid enlarging the alloy wheels; the bigger they are, the brittler the ride becomes.
The sporty vRS models ride more harshly than the standard cars. As a result of their stiffer suspension and bigger wheels, they can be quite crashy and jarring over certain surfaces.
Skoda Octavia hatchback handling
The Octavia is exactly what you’d want from a big family car – and nothing more. Even when being driven quickly, it’s stable, precise and inspires confidence. Meanwhile, the steering is light enough to make town manoeuvres and parking easy, but confidence-inspiring at speed.
With the exception of the 1.0 model, all versions beyond entry-level S trim have variable driving modes called Eco, Normal and Sport. They influence the accelerator and, where fitted, auto gearshift responses, the weight of the steering and power of the climate control. However, we find the Octavia’s steering and accelerative reactions feel most natural when in Normal mode.
The vRS models offer good body control but don’t turn in to corners as keenly as some rivals, such as the Golf GTI and Hyundai i30N). So, while they’re quick, anybody yearning for a hot hatch with the purest driving dynamics should look elsewhere.
Skoda Octavia hatchback refinement
The Octavia’s four-cylinder petrol engines are smooth and quiet, while the 1.0 three-cylinder petrol is pleasant to rev out, but has more of a rasp. The diesels, on the other hand, are a little noisy compared with the same engines in the Golf, and you feel more vibrations through the pedals, although this mostly applies to the 1.6 rather than the 2.0.
There’s also more suspension noise (noticeable inside as a deep, resonant boom in the background over town roads) than in most cars in the class – this is one of the Octavia’s most annoying traits. There’s some wind noise on the motorway, too, but road noise is reasonably well suppressed. The brakes, manual gearchange and clutch are slick, aiding smooth driving. The dual-clutch auto 'boxes are smooth through the gears, but a bit abrupt at parking speeds.