► First spin in a production Octavia Estate
► Bigger, posher and even more practical
► Petrol manual and diesel auto driven
For many years the Skoda Octavia has been among the most attractive cars in a popular segment, with generous space for people and luggage combined with down-to-earth pricing.
It offered the perfect solution for drivers not hung up on badge politics who didn’t want to spend over the odds for a solidly built and generously specced hatchback or estate.
However, in terms of multimedia equipment and assistance systems the recently expired third generation had fallen behind rivals like the Kia Ceed, Toyota Corolla and in-house VW Golf.
Does this car improve matters?
The new model changes will leave anyone who drove the old car rubbing their eyes in amazement at the cockpit design, where Skoda has left no stone – or plastic component – unturned.
All-in-all the new car now looks significantly more modern and pleasantly reduced in button count, especially the 10.2-inch digital speedometer instrument paired with the 8.0-inch tall touchscreen (there’s an optional 10.0-inch version), which is placed comfortably high in the driver’s eyeline.
On the other hand, anyone looking for classic buttons will do so in vain, except for a small switch bar below the screen. And even this is responsible for several different operations.
These include the temperature of the climate control, the volume of the audio system, and the opening and closing of the optional panoramic sunroof, albeit with a different type of swipe for each.
Is it easy to use?
We’ve tried this system in the eighth generation VW Golf and found it to be innovative in approach and quite successful in use, but some settings require you to now work deeper into the submenus, and while driving this can be a bit of a distraction.
Deserving of praise are the large steering wheel buttons, which control just about all of the assistance systems with just a few button presses. Speaking of assistants: the combination of active lane-keep and cruise control brings a clear gain in safety on long motorway journeys, a combination the old car lacked.
There’s even the option to unlock driver assists later on in the car’s life should you neglect to order a specific system that you later decide that you need. For a fee, of course.
What’s it like to drive?
The new Octavia has gained in driving ability: with the optional adaptive dampers the Estate is more confident in in all speed ranges and surface types, with road bumps effectively isolated from the cabin.
At the same time they allow more precise steering and better traction, while the sophisticated traction control system brings with it a more dynamic gait.
A staple 2.0-litre turbodiesel with 148bhp offers stout torque of 266 lbs ft between 1700 and 2750rpm, meaning overtaking on country roads is easy, while the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission quickly and unobtrusively offers the right gear.
Is it still huge inside?
Yes – the Octavia has always been one of the most spacious vehicles in its class and often those a size above, particularly in terms of boot volume.
The same goes for this new car with the Estate version coming in at 640- or 1700-litres with the rear seats up and down, surpassing the transport talent of the larger BMW 5 Series Touring.
And also the new edition improves on back seat space too, particularly when it comes to passenger knee room, where the Octavia sets the bar very high.
The new Octavia Estate convinces with its outstanding space, powerful 2.0-litre diesel engine, good comfort levels and up-to-date tech and driver assistance.
While the infotainment is sometimes complex in operation you quickly get used to it, leaving a cabin that is almost button-free and full of high quality materials.
Still a strong performer when it comes to practicality and comfort, the Octavia is now available with a much nicer interior.
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