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 feels more at ease. In normal use, it’ll crack the 0-60mph dash in as little as 8.4sec (tested by us) – a pretty sprightly performance 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 isn't too bad, but the 148bhp 2.0 TDI 150 is the one we'd recommend. It's strong and flexible, especially from low revs. If you want more power still, the sporty vRS model (you can read a full review for that here) offers a choice of 2.0-litre petrol or diesel engines that are both effortlessly quick.
A quick-changing dual-clutch automatic gearbox is available with all engines.
Skoda Octavia hatchback ride
For the most part, the Octavia is comfortable. That’s particularly the case at higher speeds, so it's an easy-going long-distance cruiser. However, it fidgets over rippled or undulating surfaces around town, and a harsh pothole or expansion joint can send a noticeable thump through the interior. Generally the Octavia is never truly uncomfortable, but it’s not as accomplished as rivals such as the Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf.
You can add Dynamic Chassis Control as an option, but not on 1.0 petrol and 1.6 diesel models. In comfort mode, it helps to settle the car over edgier bumps, although you'll still feel the impact of bigger imperfections. So while the system does deliver an improvement, its impact isn't big enough to justify the extra cost. We’d also save money by avoiding the larger alloy wheels; the bigger they are, the more brittle the ride becomes.
The sporty vRS models ride more harshly than other models. As a result of their stiffer suspension and bigger wheels, they can be quite crashy and jarring over certain surfaces.
Skoda Octavia hatchback handling
Octavia's handling is neat and tidy, but doesn't have the sporty feel of a Ford Focus or Seat Leon. When driven quickly, it’s stable, precise and inspires confidence, while the steering is light enough to make town manoeuvres and parking easy.
With the exception of the 1.0 model, all versions beyond entry-level S trim have variable driving modes: Eco, Normal and Sport. They influence the accelerator, gearshift responses (with the auto box), the weight of the steering and power of the climate control. However, we find the Octavia’s steering and accelerative reactions feel more 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 real hot hatch excitement 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 makes a sporty, rasping noise when revved. The diesels, on the other hand, are a little noisy compared with the same engines are 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.