site search by freefind
MotorBar: 1200+ unique in-depth car reviews. Plus travel & destinations, and 1000 DVD and CD reviews. Online for 14 years. Written by experts.
Skoda Octavia Elegance 1.6 TDI CR

Click to view picture gallerySecond generation Skoda Octavias
  did a good job of competing for
  sales against the likes of the A3, the
  1 Series from BMW, the Focus
and
  even the Golf! Its trump cards then
  were space and value-for-money.
  Now there
s a new third-generation
  Octavia and it
s ready to rumble with
  even more space and more quality.
  And the price is right...


THIS NEW OCTAVIA IS BIGGER than ever before: you'll find significantly more rear legroom than in a Focus or Golf; and when it comes to luggage it offers more boot 590 litres of it than any other comparable hatch.

Given that the average Brit spends three years of their life in their car (so sayeth The Telegraph), the Octavia is just the car to ensure that you too (like Édith Piaf and the French Foreign Legion) can sing 'Non, je ne regrette rien'.

These new third-gen Octavias come in both fuel varieties: 103bhp 1.2-litre, 138bhp 1.4, and 216bhp 2.0-litre petrol-drinkers; 103bhp 1.6, and 147/181bhp 2.0-litre oil-burners. Transmissions, depending on the engine chosen, can be a five- or six-speed manual or a six-speed, twin-clutch DSG auto.

“Standard fit on Elegance
models is Front Assist —
this uses a radar-eye to
watch out for impending
crashes and if, despite
an audible alert followed
by a warning jolt on
the brakes, the driver is
still not reacting to circumstances, it brakes
the car all the way to
standstill, if that’s what
it takes to avoid
a collision.
..”
When it comes to dressing up there are four degrees of kit: S, SE, Elegance and the sporty vRS. Prices start at £16K and run to just over £24K. The most popular with Brits is the four-cylinder 1.6-litre turbodiesel in penultimate Elegance trim the very same spec as the Octavia we've been driving this past week. What a coincidence!

Before you fire up the 1.6 you'll need to set your ideal driving position thanks to plenty of adjustment on the well-contoured seats including manual lumbar support and height, as well as height-adjustable seatbelts and generous steering wheel adjustability both for height and reach, this is a quick and rewarding business.

Looking out, the views are fine; the views inside are also pretty satisfying too. The fascia is clean and uncluttered with all key controls and switchgear exactly where you'd expect to find them; the dials are crystal clear as too is the much-appreciated digital speed readout and all very easy to read, the 3D SatNav mapping excellent (as, too, are the spoken directions); quality materials, including soft-feel plastics and chrome detailing, underscore the can't-be-faulted fit and finish; and the leather-rimmed four-spoke multifunction wheel is good to grip.

None of the above counts for much if the seats aren't up to scratch thankfully those in the Octavia are very supportive; they're also upholstered in leather with suede centre panels, so you get the luxury without any sliding around.

Go for the Elegance and you get a mass of kit for your money: highlights include a touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, CD player and DAB digital radio, voice control for navigation and phone, Bluetooth, dual-zone AirCon, Alcantara and leather upholstery, tinted glass, leather-rimmed multifunction (radio, phone, trip computer) four-spoke steering wheel, cooled glovebox, electric windows, one-shot electric door mirrors (heated with powerfold), sliding centre armrest, driver's information display, Driving Mode Selection (Normal, Eco, Sport, Individual), cruise control, acoustic rear parking sensors, and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Safety and driver aids include seven airbags (with one for the driver's knee), hill hold control, daytime running lights, traction and stability control, automatic post-collision braking system (in the event of a crash this brakes the car, all the way down to 6mph if necessary, to prevent it being uncontrollably propelled into other traffic), rain sensing wipers, headlight washers, a Driver Fatigue Sensor that advises the driver to 'take a break!' if he or she begins to show signs of tiredness, and tyre pressure monitoring.

“Economy, officially,
is 74.3mpg in the
Combined cycle — after
500+ miles of mixed
roads and mixed driving
styles, our test car’s trip
computer was showing
an overall average
of 57.7mpg.
..”
Standard fit on Elegance models is Front Assist this uses a radar-eye to watch out for impending crashes and if, despite an audible alert followed by a warning jolt on the brakes, the driver is still not reacting to circumstances, Front Assist will brake the car all the way to a complete stop, if that's what it takes to avoid a collision.

The VW-sourced, direct-injected 1.6-litre unit is tuned for low emissions and low fuel consumption but it's still more than fit-for-purpose its 184lb ft of torque from a low 1,500rpm (to 2,750rpm) delivers adequate power both around town and for quiet cruising at 80+mph. And most of the time you really don't notice it working away under the bonnet. The gearchange action is light, fluent and accurate so much so that you don't consciously register yourself making changes (which is good).

Economy, officially, is 74.3mpg in the Combined cycle after 500+ miles of mixed roads and mixed driving styles, our test car's trip computer was showing an overall average of 57.7mpg. Drivers keen to maximise their fuel consumption will be glad of the gearchange prompt as well as the standard-fit Start-Stop and Driving Mode Selection, which offers four engine response modes: Normal, Eco, Sport and Individual.

Choose one and the car then adapts the engine torque, accelerator sensitivity, power steering, and air conditioning to suit the profile selected. With just 99g/km of CO2 emitted by the 1.6 TDI, there's a nice double bonus no road tax and a clean green conscience. No doubt had we left the Start-Stop switched on and used the Eco mode, we would have done better mpg-wise.

With its wide, spacious and accommodating cabin, the Octavia is assuredly family-friendly. Particularly in the back, where an extra four-plus inches in the wheelbase gives passengers more knee room than in any other car in the same segment. Lounging is definitely on the menu, especially for two sharing the large centre armrest (with a pair of multi-adjustable cup-holders for those who like their Americanos Texan-sized). Fold away the armrest and there's ample width for three to travel side-by-side.

The ride augments the seat comfort and is more than able to accommodate potholed and crumbling British blacktop. The new Octavia is underpinned by Volkswagen's latest MQB platform and, dynamically, that makes it competent enough to satisfy most drivers. It certainly does all you could ask of a family-oriented machine: holds its line reassuringly through the twisty bits; is easy to place; body roll is well contained through corners; and the electro-mechanical rack-and-pinion power steering is well weighted.

“In the back an extra
four-plus inches in the
wheelbase gives
passengers more knee
room than in any other
car in the same
segment — lounging
is definitely on
the menu.
..”
The commodious new Octavia estate has 610 litres of boot space that increases to a pretty enormous 1,640 with its rear seat folded. Somehow Skoda has managed to squeeze almost as much into the hatchback Octavia: a class-leading 590 litres in the boot; 1,580 maxed out. But specify the optional £75 spare wheel (Yes, we agree, it should be standard) and you lose 20 litres.

Access is via the large fifth door. Conveniently, there's also a load-through hatch if you need to mix-and-match passengers and flatpacks. Another thoughtful touch is the reversible boot floor: it's carpeted one side and non-slip weatherproofed the other a hit with dog owners.

Skodas always come with a few storage 'surprises' the Octavia's include a large storage bin under the front passenger seat, an ice-scraper hidden inside the lockable fuel filler cap, the reversible boot floor just mentioned, and a moveable mobile phone holder for the front cabin.

All, of course, in addition to usable door pockets, lined (anti-rattle) cubbies, a cooled glovebox, overhead sunglasses storage compartment, a parking ticket holder on the right-hand screen pillar (no more chasing your ticket around the car park on a windy day), and strong drop-down bag holders in the boot.

And when it comes to sealing the deal, remember that your new Skoda will also come with a friendly dealer the brand was voted Number One in the 2012 Driver Power satisfaction survey for the fourth year running. Overall, the bigger new Octavia is very easy to live with, and very easy on your pocket. — MotorBar


Skoda Octavia Elegance 1.6 TDI CR | £21,035
Maximum speed: 121mph | 0-62mph: 10.4 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 57.7mpg
Power: 103bhp | Torque: 184lb ft | CO2 99g/km