Skoda Octavia

Octavia lr
Skoda Octavia

By Tim Saunders

When I drive a new car I like to do so with little knowledge of the vehicle. Then when we have made our acquaintance I enjoy a journey of discovery. I’ve not strictly been able to do this with the Octavia because I have driven a number of them over the years. After all, this model has been around since 1996 but each one over that 25 years or quarter of century if you like, gets better and better yet externally it has changed little. So when I first drive this particular model I am adamant that it is a 2-litre petrol because there is plenty of pull. But I am completely wrong - by some 500cc. This cavernous estate is powered by a tiddly 1.5-litre petrol engine, which is quite some achievement. As I drive an old Ford Fiesta 1.4TDCi, I am still used to smaller cars having smaller engines but this is no longer the case. It is striking that the Skoda squeezes out 150bhp compared to 68 in my 19 year old Fiesta. While both are as efficient returning around 50mpg the Fiesta produces 114 to 119g/km of CO2 compared to the Skoda’s 129 to 153 g/km but these figures are misleading because diesel fuel is more harmful to the environment. “…while diesel fuel contains slightly more carbon (2.68kg CO₂/litre) than petrol (2.31kg CO₂/litre), overall CO₂ emissions of a diesel car tend to be lower,” according to “They can also produce more nitrogen dioxide, making diesel one of the main sources of this toxic gas.”

Not so long ago fitting a small engine in a large car would have been extremely embarrassing. For instance, when the engine of my dad’s 2-litre Vauxhall Carlton blew up he resorted to a 1.6-litre Vauxhall Belmont and wished he hadn’t. Even though this model of car was not enormous by any means it was so underpowered. “Get out and push,” my dad would laugh as we attempted to climb a steep hill. Thankfully times have changed and the Skoda is a pleasing car to drive. My only qualm is that the six speed manual gearbox is notchy particularly when changing up from second to third.

It reminds me very much of the popular old Ford Cortina in the way that it has found a place in the nation’s hearts as a trusty family car available in both saloon and estate configurations. But the Skoda is so much better built and more efficient, too. Outside it is as exciting as an estate car can be but there are hints of luxury about it from the rear privacy glass, chrome roof rails and of course the striking petrol blue metallic paintwork.

Inside there’s comfortable microsuede upholstery and Henry (5) has discovered that there’s a sliding cover over where drinks bottles can be stored in the front centre console. For the rear passengers there’s iPad storage behind the front seats so that square eyed occupants can hide their addictive devices, if only they can tear themselves away for long enough… In a bid to help the nation’s mental health there should be a padlock on this storage and a key that only works to lock it and then self-destructs... 

There’s a sat nav and even heated steering wheel and front seats. This model is fitted with a foldable tow bar with adaptor and Park Assist. It’s surprising that a car of this size does not come with a reversing camera though – I do find these helpful.

The boot is large enough to easily swallow four 50 litre bags of compost and two 25kg bags of mortar.

It’s comfortable rather than engaging to drive and the build quality is good. Overall it’s an attractive family car.

Facts at a glance
Skoda Octavia 1.5TSi 150PS
Price: £29,050
Top speed: 139mph
0 to 60mph: 8.5secs
Economy: 45mpg
CO2: 129 to 153g/km


DIY Car Parts advert


Tim Saunders on Facebook
Tim Saunders on Twitter
Tim Saunders on LinkedIn