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Skoda Octavia iV Estate SE L 1.4 TSI 204PS DSG
Click to view picture gallery“To EV or not to EV, that is the
  question. The answer, however, is
  not the automatic
Yes you might
  assume because there is an
  alternative
and its appeal is that
  it comes without any
range anxiety
  whatsoever...”


MAKE NO MISTAKE — EV range anxiety is real which is why plug-in hybrids are still, for many, the cars best suited to fighting the on-going climate war. Skoda's take on the plug-in, as presented in its highly-rated Octavia iV, which uses a petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain (turboed 1.4-litre petrol combustion engine partnered with a small electric motor) makes a great deal of sense.

Despite the handicap of a hefty battery pack and other PHEV hybrid hardware, the 4.7-metre-long Octavia estate not only walks the walk, but it sprints the sprint too: with 201bhp backed up by 258lb ft of torque it will scoot from standstill to 62mph in a seamlessly crisp 7.6 seconds; given its head, it will run to 136mph. That's more than just pretty good, particularly for a family wagon.

The cherry on the
Octavia iV cake is that
it can cover as much as
40 miles using pure
electric power from
its fully charged battery.
However, to be in with
a chance of hitting this
plug-in hybrid’s headline
282mpg combined fuel
consumption figure,
owners do need to plug
in at every opportunity.
Not a hardship given
0-100% recharging takes
three hours using a 7kW
wallbox or six hours
from a three-pin
domestic plug...”
The cherry on the Octavia iV cake is that it can cover as much as 40 miles using pure electric power from its fully charged battery pack. However, to be in with a chance of hitting this plug-in hybrid's headline 282mpg combined fuel consumption figure, owners do need to plug in at every opportunity. Not a hardship given 0-100% recharging takes three hours using a 7kW wall box or six hours from a three-pin, domestic mains socket.

Keep your iV charged and, if you are regularly covering short commutes, school runs or shopping expeditions, you'll come close to forgetting what a petrol station forecourt looks like. Not bad either are the iV's planet-friendly CO2 emissions: as low as 23g/km.

Forget to recharge and you will, surprisingly, still be smiling stuck out in the sticks and with no choice but to cover 150+ miles without any recharging whatsoever, we still recorded a highly commendable 60.6mpg.

Not surprisingly, bearing in mind its eager 201bhp, the hybrid feels punchy right from the get-go, always responding willingly to your right foot. And, for the record, even driven in its pure electric mode, the iV doesn't hang about. Most drivers will be content to keep the iV's Drive Mode selector in its Normal setting, leaving the Octavia free to function as a hybrid and doing what it does best: switching fluently between combustion engine and pure electric to deliver the optimum performance and economy in all situations. In addition to the choice of driving modes, there's also the option of selecting between power sources: Hybrid, Electric or, as already mentioned, an automatically managed combination of them both.

Power is put down through the front wheels via a smooth-shifting six-speed dual-clutch automatic 'box. The drivetrain is well matched by the Octavia's chassis dynamics; both have been designed to prioritise smooth-driving comfort. For those times when you really do need more bite, the Drive Mode menu offers a Sport setting. Engage it, and the iV surges forward with real gusto. An Individual mode lets you fine-tune everything (chassis, steering, drive, AirCon, etc) to your own personal settings.

Or you can simply maximise economy by selecting the Eco mode. Don't forget that the uber-green overall fuel economy figure assumes you will be plugging-in at every opportunity and running on the battery pack. For those times when you can't recharge, as happened to us, you can still see 60+mpg. However, if you're intent on wringing out every last hybrid mile from the iV then you'll like its Eco mode because there's really no noticeable loss of oomph laid-back drivers won't notice the difference while reaping the PHEV rewards.

As is the trend in EVs and PHEVs, the autobox's selector lever is a nifty thumb-sized 'tab' and it works perfectly. There's the usual P, R, N, and Drive/Sport settings, complemented by paddle-shifters on the steering wheel's horizontal bars for manual shifting anytime you please.

The cabin is everything a driver could ask for: comfy, spacious, well put together, well kitted-out, and flaunts a smart Audi-esque look. Think A3 and you'll get the picture. Tactile trim blended with some nice styling touches (like the denim-fronted dash and slick chromium highlighting) creates a welcoming ambiance that lasts from the moment you belt-up to the moment you climb out at journey's end.

For a mid-size estate
the Octavia’s rear cabin
offers a respectable
amount of room for
heads, legs, and feet —
even a six-footer will sit
comfortably with room
to spare when the front
seats are set as far back
as they can go (which
is a long way!).
The glasshouse’s
windows are large and
let in plenty of light;
they also ensure great
views out for kids and
grown-ups travelling
in the back.
The rear seats are
particularly comfy and
to make things better
for two there’s a wide
and well-padded drop-
down centre armrest with
pop-out cupholders.
Adding to its
practicality are large
bottle holding door bins,
front seatback pouches
with built-in smartphone
pockets close to
charging USB ports,
and central air vents...”
The sporty seats are effectively bolstered and proved satisfyingly supportive (especially so on long trips). Although usually upholstered in an all-season-friendly microsuede, the chairs in our test iV were covered in the even better optional black leather (and a real snip at just an extra 250).

The driver and front passenger are both well looked after with full-range powered seat operation (and plenty of room in which to move them, including two fists' of headroom even with the seat jacked up), three-setting memory recall functions, three-stage seat heating, adjustable lumbar, and height-adjustable seatbelts. As you'd expect, the driving position is spot-on, with fine visibility courtesy of the relatively slim A-pillars and generous side glazing.

If you're 'old school' and prefer to look over your shoulder to reverse, then you'll find the view more than good enough to do your business. Parking or manoeuvring, this Octavia estate is refreshingly hassle-free to place accurately even before you factor in its front and rear parking sensors. Another plus for single drivers travelling with one youngster — child seat fittings not just in the back but on the front passenger seat too.

Once upon a time Skoda was seen as the brand people bought because they couldn't stretch to a VW or even an Audi. Not any longer because anything you can get in one of them, from safety to tech, you can now have in your Skoda.

Such as the iV's Virtual Cockpit 10.25-inch digital instrument display. Customisable on the go, it offers multiple-choice layouts than will show as little, or as much, as you demand. The graphics and clarity are all first-rate, as they are too on the widescreen stand-alone 10-inch infotainment and navigation touchscreen sited top-dead-centre of the dash and sensibility positioned high enough to minimise the time your eyes are away from the road whenever you need to scan it.

Safety aside, it's a very nice display indeed with large, foolproof icons that are easy for your fingertip to home in on while you're driving; once tapped, the system responds smartly. Plus, of course, it's all easily controlled from the multifunction (and heated) steering wheel and you still have the option of using the voice feature to manage navigation, phone, and temperature commands including ordering it to read out your emails.

Naturally the system also comes with Bluetooth, smartphone mirroring via Smartlink (Android Auto and Mirrorlink) plus a wireless Apple CarPlay connection, the expected DAB radio, decent sounds, four USB-C ports, and an SOS e-Call button to summon emergency aid if you're ever involved in an accident.

Too many of today's cars come up short when it comes to providing a home for you and your passengers' 'stuff'. Not so the Octavia, which provides long and wide front door bins that easily hold 1.5-litre bottles (with room to spare for much more), a big chilled glovebox and, beneath the sliding central front armrest you'll find more 'cooled' storage. There's also a large open smartphone-accommodating tray ahead of the selector pad, served by two of the latest small C-type USB ports and a converter lead, siamesed dual-use cupholders, a drop-down overhead storage box for your shades, and a multi-use storage locker in the driver's lower fascia. Both doors are fitted with umbrella 'holsters'; other helpful details include a ticket holder on the offside screen pillar and an ice-scraper clipped inside the fuel filler flap where it's easily gettable on gloves-on winter mornings.

And you get plenty of kit: keyless entry and start/stop (note, keyless entry and exit locking is on all four doors, not just the front two), Drive Mode selection, multifunction leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, parking sensors with manoeuvre assist, rear privacy glass, heated front seats, digital instrument panel, two-zone AirCon (offering standard AirCon, Classic AirCon or Air Care programmes, with one-touch activation of regular tasks such as defrosting the windows, warming your feet or hands, cooling your feet, etc), frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror, powerfolding heated and auto-dimming door mirrors, four quick-acting one-shot up/down windows, auto-hold electric park brake, and a set of stylish 17-inch alloys.

“A decent ride generally
means some
compromise in the
handling department —
but not so in the
Octavia’s case.
Dynamically, it’s supple
rather than soft.
Body roll is well
managed and the
steering is precise,
turning in cleanly.
Despite the iV’s
predisposition towards
serving up a relaxed
ride, it grips strongly
and stays reassuring
through the twisties.
A big plus is the
progressive and nicely
modulated braking
that’s notable for the
smooth handovers
between energy
recuperation (for the
battery pack) and
conventional stopping.
Add to all the above
its quiet and refined
progress at all speeds
and you have
one very nice to drive
motor indeed...”
Safety features are equally comprehensive with Front Assist automatic emergency braking and predictive pedestrian protection (which warns the driver via an audio/visual signal as well as a gentle jolt of the brakes), Side Assist, lane-keeping assistance, and the very useful Rear Traffic Alert.

The Octavia scored a five-star Euro NCAP rating and comes with a full suite of airbags including one for the driver's knee, plus LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, LED front fog lights and LED rear lights with those swish animated turn indicators.

Also present and correct is a speed limiter with adaptive cruise control (which can take the stress out of long journeys by maintaining a consistent gap between you and the car in front, and where necessary braking to match its speed, even down to a stop). Other useful features include the likes of auto lights and wipes, headlight washers, tyre pressure monitoring, and drive-off automatic door locking.

For a mid-size estate the Octavia's rear cabin offers a respectable amount of head-, knee- and leg room: even a six-footer can sit comfortably with room to spare when the front seats are set as far back as they can go (which is a long way!). The glasshouse's windows are large and let in plenty of light; they also ensure great views out for kids and grown-ups travelling in the back.

The seats are particularly comfy and to make things better for two there's a big, wide, and well-padded drop-down centre armrest with pop-out cupholders. Adding to the practicality are large bottle-holding door bins, front seatback pouches with built-in smartphone pockets close to charging USB ports, and central air vents. With the armrest folded away there's ample room for three side-by-side.

Not only will your passengers be sitting comfortably but it gets better because one of the Octavia's major strengths is its ride. Rolling on 205/55 (comfort-profile) 17-inch alloys it serves up a fine ride; one that's equally polished whether you're mile-eating motorways or zipping along A-roads.

The ride's fluency extends to urban landscapes too, where the iV stays nicely composed even riding over lumpy blacktop and speed humps. Optional on SE L trim models is an adaptive damper set-up that give the driver more control over the suspension's firmness or comfort, but when the standard arrangement is as accomplished as the iV's is, most drivers will be glad to stick with it.

A decent ride generally means some compromise in the handling department but not so in the Octavia's case. Dynamically, it's supple rather than soft. Body roll is well managed and the steering is precise, turning in cleanly. Despite its predisposition towards serving up a relaxed ride, the iV grips strongly and stays reassuring through the twisties. A big plus is the progressive and nicely modulated braking that's notable for the smooth handovers between energy recuperation (for the battery pack) and conventional stopping. Add to all the above its quiet and refined progress at all speeds and you have one very nice to drive motor indeed.

The iV's boot capacity is 450 litres: capacious enough to hold around seven carry-on cases or a large family's monthly grocery shop. There's no load lip and the tailgate swings high, so loading is a doddle. Tugging the two levers in the boot releases the 40:60-split backrests which then tumble forward by themselves to create a seriously cargo-friendly 1,405-litre loadbay with a long floor.

Two boot lights are a bonus (and better than one, one being the norm for most cars) plus there's the usual practical Skoda 'aids' such as four sturdy flip-out bag hooks, side compartments to swallow any oddments, tie-down lashing eyelets, and a 12V socket. Helpfully, both the iV's plug-in charging leads (three-pin mains and wallbox/chargepoints) can be stored in a bespoke cubby under the boot floor. Adding to the estate's versatility is a full-size central load-thru hatch that makes light work of carrying skis or long flatpacks. Another appreciated touch is the time-saving roller luggage cover which automatically retracts halfway as the tailgate rises; tap it once and it will retract fully. The iV will also tow a braked 1,500kg good enough to haul most things.

So, to EV or not to EV? The answer, going by Skoda's Octavia iV, is that when it comes to greening-up, you do have a choice. And a week behind the wheel of the plug-in petrol-electric hybrid Octavia iV will convince many to stick with the plug-in. Satisfying to drive and competitively priced against other PHEVs, the handsome Octavia iV also happens to be a very accomplished family estate in its own right, one that's comfortable and practical enough to satisfy not just its owner, but friends and family too. ~ MotorBar
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Skoda Octavia iV Estate SE L 1.4 TSI 204PS DSG | 35,880
Maximum speed: 136mph | 0-62mph: 7.6 seconds | Test Average: 60.6mpg
Power: 201bhp | Torque: 258lb ft | CO2: 23-28g/km

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