Versatile Czech - SKODA OCTAVIA Car Review

Review

Added: 05 Oct 2009
Last update:

SKODA'S Octavia 4x4 Estate is the kind of sturdy, reliable soft-roading workhorse most families want.

It manages to steer well clear of the boring, staid image associated with many estates, but it's no design wonder. But it has a smart, contemporary-looking profile which looks good all round.

The car has build precision to die for and quality levels which set it apart in this segment - even shaming some contemporaries in the higher, premium sector.

A combination of quality, comfort, exceptional build, as well as versatility are the cornerstones which have contributed to the success of the Octavia over the past 13 years.

The latest Octavia is much more of the same and as always, for good measure, Skoda boast value for money prices which are among the most competitive around.

The Czech 4x4 estate on test was powered by a robust 2.0-litre diesel engine which pumps out 140bhp and delivers generous zaps of torque across the rev band smoothly and energetically.

Mated to a six-speed gearbox, equally smooth, the four-cylinder engine provides one of the biggest estates in class with sufficient oomph to make it flexible and agile through town without flagging and for overtaking manoeuvres at top motorway speeds.

It does so, with the added security of the Haldex 4x4 system which makes driving confidence-inspiring on diesel-greased or rain-soaked surfaces, not to mention the white stuff.

The diesel engine manages to race to 62mph in 9.9 seconds and takes the estate to a top speed of 123mph. Not riveting, but respectable enough, with official fuel returns averaging around 45mpg. But it is the energy the diesel unit galvanises at low speeds that impress most.

Road-holding, is commendable and the firmish ride is very comfortable, but the steering needs more feedback to the steering rim.

What isn't impressive is the level of the rumbling and clattering from the diesel unit. Admittedly in cruise mode the engine noise seems less intrusive, but under pressure it sounds on the high side.

Save for this, the 4x4 is quiet in other respects, with little wind noise or road thrum to bother you.

There are no dramatic changes to the new Octavia, a few tweaks here and there, but the most discernible changes are a redesigned front, including larger headlights which give the estate a more modern edge.

- Val Jessop

WITH sales of 140,000 and counting, the Octavia has been Skoda's most successful car in the UK.

The backbone of the model range throughout the Czech firm's design and engineering renaissance, the Octavia has won the hearts of critics and buyers alike and it continues to be the driving force behind the brand.

Thirteen years after the birth of the original, a new Octavia has taken to the streets, building on the strengths of the mid-90's car.

Designers have reworked the Octavia to make it better looking with stronger performance and even better value for money.

Available as a hatchback or as an estate the 2009 car has been given a bold new front which moves it into line with other Skoda family models - Fabia, Superb and Roomster.

Inside, the cabin has been updated with new trim materials and neater instruments and controls. The car's entertainment system has also been upgraded with all bar entry-level models having touch screens.

The car on test was an Octavia Estate with four-wheel-drive and powered by an economical 2.0-litre turbodiesel mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.

As a family motor, it makes a lot of sense.

The test car comes near the top of the range and it certainly gave a glimpse of the VW-owned marque as being something special.

Build quality is outstanding and the cabin, admittedly augmented by the inclusion of a £1,500-plus satnav and entertainment system, is easily something you wouldn't be surprised to find in a more upmarket marque.

All you really have to decide is whether you need an estate and if you do, does it need to be a 4x4.

MPVs are so common these days that it is easy to forget the virtues of a good old-fashioned estate. But they still make good sense to me. If you want to drive a car-like car and not a van with windows but want the practicality of carrying something large in the boot when you have to, then an estate fits the bill perfectly.

The boot is fairly big even with the rear seats in place - 580 litres - but it is cavernous with the seats folded flat - 1,620 litres. That's more than some full-size MPVs.

The four-wheel drive system is a clever one capable of delivering varying amounts of power to each individual wheel, depending on need. Lots of people are turning away from chunky off-roaders but still like the idea of having 4x4 security available.

The engine's good as well but it should be as it's one of the latest generation two-litre direct-injection VW-sourced units that are smooth to drive and frugal to run. In the combined cycle, the car returns 45mpg.

It's not all that quick and doesn't encourage sporty driving but with a top speed of 123mph and a 0-62mph acceleration time of just under 10 seconds, it's a comfortable, sensible, very well made five-seater with a large boot.

- Alistair Coull

FAST FACTS

Skoda Octavia Estate 4X4 2.0 TDI PD

Price: £19,405

Mechanical: 140bhp, 1,968cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max speed: 123mph

0-62mph: 9.9 seconds

Combined mpg: 44.8

Insurance group: 10

CO2 emissions: 165g/km

BIK rating: 20%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles

Words: Alistair Coull & Val Jessop

Keywords: skoda, octavia