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Skoda Octavia Estate 1.8 TSI DSG road test report


Skoda has earned itself a reputation in recent years as a manufacturer of reliable, practical cars that are proving popular with buyers who are prepared to think beyond the old, cruel jokes about the brand. The Czech carmaker has also done consistently well in customer satisfaction surveys over the last decade. The Octavia Estate has become the choice of carbuyers looking for a spacious, cost-effective load-lugger with rock-solid reliability. That choice is even more nailed-on thanks to some mid-life revisions that include cosmetic changes to the exterior, an updated cabin and some new engines, including the 1.8 TSI petrol unit in the car we tested.

Road Test Reports Says4 star rating
A front-facing image of the Skoda Octavia Estate

Image number 2 of the Skoda Octavia EstateImage number 3 of the Skoda Octavia Estate

Performance Performance - 4 stars

The 1.8-litre TSI engine falls in the middle of the range of new petrol units that also includes 1.4-litre and a 2.0-litre turbocharged engines. These powerplants all combine direct fuel injection with a turbocharger to deliver better performance and greater efficiency than the previous range of (higher-capacity, in most cases) petrol engines. This particular engine generates 157bhp and maximum torque of 184lb-ft between 1,500 and 4,200rpm, and is particularly strong in the mid-range, offering plenty of pull when overtaking and cruising. Better still, in our test car it was mated to the latest DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which Skoda shares with other VW Group brands. Together, the engine and gearbox make the most of the power on tap: the ‘box shifts smoothly and swiftly, with the minimum of interruption to the Octavia’s progress, always selecting the optimum moment in the rev range to change gear. An excellent combination.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 4 stars

The reputation that the Octavia has earned for itself in recent years partly rests on the fact that it is a well set-up car, with a very accomplished ride and handling package. The Octavia’s ride makes the car a supremely comfortable experience for its occupants. One of the reasons for this is the fact that the Czech roads that Skodas are developed on have surfaces of a similar standard to those in the UK (in other words, pretty poor). The ride quality is therefore particularly well tuned for British roads and soaks up most of the imperfections, ruts and potholes that it is likely to encounter. The handling, while not perhaps as dynamic as that of the Focus or Golf, the class-leaders in this area, is still of a high standard. Body roll isn’t too intrusive for a car with such a comfortable ride and although there’s a degree of understeer, it’s easy to control through prudent use of the throttle pedal.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 5 stars

The Skoda Octavia has an excellent reputation for quality, a reputation it has earned in recent years by virtue of performing well in numerous customer satisfaction surveys. For example, in the most recent JD Power poll, it managed to beat models from traditionally strong brands such as Honda and Toyota, winning the small family car category ahead of the Civic and Corolla. Mechanicals have proved to be highly reliable, with very few reports of breakdowns or engine/transmission failures. Indeed, the only reported issues tend to be minor problems with the cabin and interior, but this revised model should address those, as the standards are very high, seeming to take a leaf out of the books of its VW Group sister companies, Audi and Volkswagen. There is new trim throughout the Octavia’s cabin, with upgrades on every model in the Octavia’s line-up, plus redesigned seats with improved upholstery fabrics.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 4 stars

The Octavia has a decent, if unspectacular, rating for safety, largely because the car, now five years old, is relatively long in the tooth. Its four-star crash-test score from Euro NCAP is perfectly fine, but more recently launched cars are now routinely scoring the full five stars. However, the Octavia still comes with a full complement of active and passive safety equipment, including four airbags as standard (curtain airbags are standard on the top-trim Laurin & Klement, and as an option elsewhere in the range), seatbelt pre-tensioners and anti-whiplash headrests. Xenon headlights with an adaptive system that adjusts the beam according to different driving circumstances are also an option. In addition, all Octavias are fitted with ABS anti-lock brakes, ASR skid control and MBA (mechanical brake assist). ESP stability control is also available in the range-topping versions and as an option elsewhere in the range. For security purposes, all Octavias come with an alarm and immobiliser fitted as standard.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 5 stars

The Octavia Estate is, even more than the spacious hatchback version, a supremely practical car, thanks to its load-lugging capabilities. With a 605-litre capacity boot (1,655 litres with the rear seats folded down), the Estate is perfect for families who find it impossible (or impractical) to travel light. The upgrades to the cabin in this revised version also enhance the sense of practicality. For example, new-look instruments have improved visibility thanks to white LEDs standing out against the black background. Storage has also been improved, with additions such as a cooled cubby in the front armrest. But best of all is the new, practical and easy-to-use touchscreen display for the sat nav and infotainment functions, which is mated to a number of options for the sound system. One chink in the armour, though, is that we discovered that Skoda’s Bluetooth system is incompatible with the iPhone, which seemed oddly random.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 5 stars

This Octavia model, with its 1.8-litre petrol engine, is an interesting ownership proposition, especially if you opt for the DSG gearbox, which (contrary to conventional automatic transmissions) improves fuel consumption and CO2 emissions: an official figure of 42.8mpg on the combined cycle is respectable and 155g/km (meaning road tax of £150 a year) stacks up well against similarly-engined competitors. The Octavia’s record for reliability should also mean infrequent trips to the garage and, when you do have to go, servicing costs are relatively inexpensive. Aftercare at dealers is also a positive aspect of the Octavia ownership experience: staff at dealerships are reported to be helpful and any work you need done is usually completed on time. Residuals are also pretty strong when you come to sell your Octavia. After three years or 36,000 miles, used car experts expect it to hold on to around 39-43% of its value.

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