New Skoda Octavia: more tech and hybrid engines for 2020

Published: 11 November 2019

► New Skoda Octavia hatch and estate 
► Upgraded interior, slew of technology 
► Now with mild- and plug-in hybrids 

Pay attention - this is a big one for Skoda. It may well look like a smaller version of the Superb, but this new 2020 Skoda Octavia is arguably the most important car for the Czech brand, selling in the highest numbers and competing with that other strong seller you may have heard of... inhouse cousin, the Volkswagen Golf.

Tellingly, the new Octavia is following hot on the heels of the latest Golf Mk8, which has itself just been launched with a host of design, engineering and tech changes.

New VW Golf Mk8: your essential briefing

Is the 2020 Skoda Octavia actually new? And is it still just a Golf in Czech finery?

Yes it is. But there’s a lot more to it.

The latest Octavia range still shares the VW’s MQB underpinnings (that’ll also sit under a new Seat Leon family coming next year) but there’s a lot more going on under that sleek new body than before – we’re talking more advanced engines and lots of safety tech.

Smarter styling reflects the upmarket push for Skoda, making the outgoing model immediately look a bit old-hat. Shrinking the Superb down and adding slick new LED lights and chrome bits make it feel a lot fancier - and we'd judge the design most successful in the Octavia Estate (Combi in Europe). Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

It's predictable enough and there's certainly nothing overly shocking about it, but there’s just about enough about it that’s different to the bigger Superb to make it feel fresh, both on the outside and in the cabin.  

What’s new inside the 2020 Octavia?

A lot. Unsurprisingly taking inspiration from the Mk8 Golf, the Octavia’s interior features optional digital dials and a big touchscreen display sticking out of the dashboard. There will be a few different sizes of screen on offer - up to 10 inches on top-spec models - with an updated operating system.  

A row of shortcuts sits neatly below on the swoopier dash, and there’s a new drive-by-wire gear selector that’s ousted the traditional gearlever on automatic models, keeping things tidy on the centre console. Plenty of ambient lighting and upmarket materials surround you, with a noticeable improvement in quality over the old car.

Are Skodas getting (whisper it) too posh? Be sure to tell us in the comments below.

There are super-comfy seats like the ErgoComfort ones you’ll find in a VW Passat - plus a fancy new two-spoke steering wheel with plenty of buttons to keep you entertained or confused. If that’s all a bit too much, you can also choose a more traditional three-spoker.  

There’s more tech, too

Available for the first time on a Skoda is a head-up display, while a more comprehensive suite of driver assistance and safety kit is available. This borrows from the Passat’s stable with things like predictive cruise control with stop and go, turn assist to stop you pulling out dangerously into traffic and other driver alert systems that should keep you largely out of trouble. Not all will come as standard, remember...

Skoda Octavia: engines are upgraded too

What goes on under the bonnet has changed a lot too. There are still petrol and diesel variants, but the petrols with automatic gearboxes feature mild hybrid tech to boost performance and economy thanks to a 48-volt belt-driven motor.

Skoda calls these engines eTEC. Diesels range from 108-197bhp, with the top model featuring 4x4.  

Finally, a plug-in hybrid Octavia iV will be available using a 1.4-litre TSI petrol and electric motor for a combined output of 201bhp and around 34 miles of EV range. Figures that echo the VW Passat GTE's almost precisely...

Big on practicality

It wouldn’t be a new Skoda without a bigger boot, so the hatch offers 600 litres of space and the Octavia Estate (above) a whopping 640 litres. They didn’t need to be bigger, but Skoda did it anyway, and as ever, it’s festooned with Simply Clever things like umbrellas, hand brushes, ice scrapers, bins and nets to keep all your usual in-car detritus slightly more contained. 

Check out our Skoda reviews

By Tom Goodlad

Senior reviewer on our sister website Parkers

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