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MotorBar - New Car Reviews
Skoda Octavia SE Hatch 1.0 TSI 115PS

Click to view picture gallery“Skoda was one of the first to
  successfully exploit the benefits
  of slotting torquey three-pot
  petrol engines under the bonnets
  of big family cars
such as
  their popular 4.6-metre-long, five-
  seater Octavia hatchback...”

AND, POST DIESELGATE, hasn't that turned out well. The Octavia is a model that has been a big hit with buyers, delivering generously in the space race, both with its family-sized cabin as well as with its cargo-swallowing boot.

Looks-wise, the Octavia five-door, five-seater hatchback is quite an imposing car with balanced proportions that, unlike many, doesn't fall back on styling gimmicks to suck you in, relying on simply clean lines that will still look fresh several years down the ownership road. Which is good news because this is a car like that festive puppy — it's not just for Christmas.

If you think that the 999cc three-cylinder petrol engine won't be man enough for the job then think again. Pint-sized it may be but its 113bhp is backed up by a tractable 148lb ft of torque. Neither is it just fit for purpose; it's better than that — the redline-chasing three-pot is as punchy as your right foot wants to make it.

If you think a 999cc
three-cylinder petrol
engine won’t cut the mustard then think again.
Pint-sized it may be but
the redline-chasing
three-pot is as punchy
as your right foot wants
to make it...”
It helps, too, that peak toque is spread out across the most useful part of the rev-band (between 2,000 and 3,500rpm) so can be used to best effect courtesy of the smooth-shifting manual gearbox's six well-stacked ratios — even left in higher gears, the three-cylinder Octavia won't have any trouble keeping pace with traffic. Petrol rules!

For the record, if you really can't be asked to do your own gear changing, then spend another 1,250 and specify the optional DSG dual-clutch automatic.

Another unexpected characteristic of the three-pot is that most of the time you won't hear it, and cruising motorways at the UK's legal limit you definitely won't need to ramp up the radio's volume. Used hard though, to take you to 62mph in 9.9 seconds, it sounds cheerfully game-on. Top speed is a more than adequate 126mph.

A physically small engine in a big car isn't usually good news on the economy front. But again this feisty three-pot from Skoda goes against the accepted wisdom — official lab figures indicate it will manage 58.9mpg in the combined cycle. In real-life driving our test 1.0 TSI Octavia returned an impressive 53.1mpg (regular readers will know that we don't mollycoddle our review cars to generate the optimum economy because we prefer, and buyers want to know, 'worst case' figures). So the usual caveat applies: drive with a lighter right foot than us, and you should easily better our test figures.

Regardless of what's under the bonnet, it's the cabin that's crucial, especially to the family buyers for whom the Octavia will be high on their shortlists. Open up the door and the Octavia comes up trumps here too. The fascia is streamlined with a large 8-inch central infotainment and navigation touchscreen. Fit and finish is satisfying with classy 'brushed alloy' trim inserts and the smart fabric-upholstered front seats (nice to the touch, too) are well-shaped with effective bolstering that's there for you when necessary without impeding your entry or exit. Lumbar and height adjustment for both make matters even better, as do height-adjustable belts.

The driver gets a good-to-use, leather-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel with proper thumb cut-outs plus there are remote controls for the navigation, phone, media, radio, multifunction trip computer, cruise and speed limiter.

A physically small
engine in a big car isn’t
usually good news on
the economy front.
But again this feisty
three-pot from Skoda
goes against the
accepted wisdom —
official lab figures
indicate it will manage
58.9mpg in the combined
cycle; in real-life driving
our test 1.0 TSI Octavia
returned an impressive
53.1mpg...”
Dual-zone air-conditioning is standard-fit, as too are easy-to-read dials and a crystal clear driver's information panel between the speedo and rev-counter with a road speed readout plus other core driving information including navigational prompts. The SatNav is foolproof with 3D mapping and full postcode entry.

Personal space is generous with more than a fist of headroom. Not only do the large windows keep the cabin airy but along with a first-rate driving position take much of the stress out of driving in messy traffic.

There are also plenty of features that make everyday motoring life much smoother, from a damped knee-friendly glovebox that doesn't spill its contents every time it opens, a chilled storage box under the armrest between the front seats, parking ticket clip on the windscreen, a handy lined storage box in the right-hand fascia, large lined bottle-holding door bins, and a just-in-case brolly stored under the front passenger's seat to proximity sensing on the bright touchscreen that brings up on-screen virtual buttons ready to be used even as your hand is moving towards the display.

Scrolling and zooming in and out of maps is done with smartphone pinching and swiping actions, plus it's quick to respond and has tablet levels of user-friendliness allied to voice control for the phone and navigation. Naturally you also get Bluetooth and a DAB radio plus essentials such as power windows (all four are one-shot), electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, and tinted glass.

SD card slots and USB and Aux-in jacks are all present and correct, as too is SmartLink+ connectivity (Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink) to enable your smartphone to interact with the infotainment system for pure entertainment or even to receive turn-by-turn navigation directions.

Safety kit, as you'd expect for a family-focussed car, includes a full suite of airbags (six plus one for the driver's knee), height-adjustable front belts, cruise control, Driver Fatigue warning, rear parking sensors (with on-screen graphics), automatic drive-away door locking, Hill Hold, an automatic Post Collision Braking system, an electronic diff lock that maximises road holding and improves handling responses, especially when cornering, tyre pressure monitoring, and LED daytime running lights and LED rear lights.

Unquestionably one of the most generous family cars, the Octavia will transport four six-footers in total comfort. While three in a row is perfectly doable, once you've had one of the outer corners all to yourself you really won't want to share. And thanks to the excellent head, leg and foot room, along with relaxing backrest angles, lounging can't really be avoided. This is a rear cabin you won't want to leave. Those with youngsters will be pleased to know that Isofix child seat fixings are provided.

Skoda’s Driving Mode
Selection lets the driver
flick between driving
modes depending on
mood or traffic conditions — choose
between Eco, Comfort,
Sport, and Custom.
If you want to cut
along at a fair lick then
opt for Sport.
Making best use of the
slick gearchange and
sparky engine will
definitely keep
you in a good mood...”
When it comes to cargo the Octavia is a giant among hatchbacks, and few rivals come close. The huge 590-litre boot (with the rear seats occupied) is just the beginning; fold down the 60:40-split rear seatbacks and you'll be looking into a yawing loadbay cavern that stretches to 1,580 litres and laughs in the face of house moves.

Loading is made as easy as can be by a generous tailgate aperture although not being a dedicated estate you do need to load over a short lip plus there's also a small step-up from the boot floor where the seatbacks fold down, neither of which really restricts usability. If you really must max-out on cargo space, the Octavia estate offers you more litres: 610 of them in the boot and 1,740 with the rear seats dropped flat.

Along with a reversible boot floor covering (one side carpet, the other easy-clean rubber), bag hooks, and stretchy nets, the Octavia's 1.0-litre engine is game enough to tow between a braked 1,300 and 1,500kg (dependent on gradient) with the roof bars being good for another 75kg. Work-shy this commodious family hatch is not!

Handling is predictable — precisely what you'll want with your family on board. The steering is easy for tight town manoeuvring with accurate turn-in, and equally reassuring and wieldy on twisty B-roads and along country lanes. And when you need to scrub speed the brakes, helped by hefty ventilated discs at the front with discs at the rear, will bring the numbers down quickly and assertively.

Standard fit too is Skoda's Driving Mode Selection that lets the driver flick between driving modes depending on mood or traffic conditions — choose between Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Custom.

So, if you want to cut along at a fair lick then opt for Sport — making best use of the slick gearchange and sparky engine will definitely keep you in a good mood, even on the school run. For that annual staycation marathon Comfort or even Eco might be your best bet. Whatever, it's just nice to have the choice.

If you've a full load of passengers the very last thing you want is for them to be shaken around — but that's something else you don't need to worry about with the Octavia because its ride is very civilised, smoothing out most of the worst that our roads can throw at it.

As more and more drivers switch allegiance from diesel to petrol, the keenly-priced Octavia hatch offers drivers the perfect family car with acres of space for a comfortable mix of people, luggage and cargo. Good to travel in, it's affordable to run and its eager-beaver 1.0-litre powerplant makes for a pleasant drive. ~ MotorBar
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Skoda Octavia SE Hatch 1.0 TSI 115PS | 19,005
Maximum speed: 126mph | 0-62mph: 9.9 seconds | Test Average: 53.1mpg
Power: 113bhp | Torque: 148lb ft | CO2: 110g/km

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