THE Skoda Octavia is a great car – every bit as good as the VW Golf on which it’s based and with just as good a reliability record - but for less money.
Build quality is excellent and there is more interior space than any other car in the class.
But the 1.4 non-turbo engine is not powerful enough and neither is the mind-numbingly slow 1.9 SDi non-turbo diesel in earlier models.
It rides and handles brilliantly in both early and later guises, with the same feel as the Golf.
Other petrol engines are 1.6, (avoid the 75bhp version), 1.8 with 125, 150 or 180bhp and 2.0-litre units with 115, 150 or 197bhp.
Turbo diesels are all good with power ranging from 90 to 140bhp and all come with either five or six speed manual or optional auto gearbox.
Latest models have been available with the very expensive but superb DSG clutchless manual/auto.
As well as the big, big hatch there is also a cavernous estate.
Octavias might seem a plain inside, but everything you need is there and it all works beautifully, putting other cockpits in the shade.
Equipment depends on how far up the model scale you go but almost all have twin airbags, ABS brakes, traction control, central locking, air-con and a height adjustable driver’s seat.
Price: Pay about £5,100 for an ’04 54-reg Classic, or £10,000 for an ‘07 07-reg Elegance
Mechanical: 105bhp, 1,896cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 119mph
0-62mph: 11.4 seconds
Combined mpg: 45
Insurance group: 7
CO2 emissions: 130g/km
BIK rating: 15%
Main rivals: Ford Mondeo