Most models have plenty of go, and generally the Octavia feels pretty smooth and quiet
Smart interior and intuitive dashboard
Stability control and seven airbags as standard, but you'll have to pay for 'bags in the rear
Excellent quality and reliability
The biggest car in its class
Even entry-level models have loads of equipment
On the road, the Skoda Octavia isn't unlike its cousin, the Volkswagen Golf, to which it is closely related. It's easy to drive and comfortable to ride in, and although it's a bit more bumpy than the VW, particularly at low speeds, and not quite as agile, it feels stable and secure at all times.
Even the entry-level 1.2 TSI engine has plenty of oomph for most situations, while the 1.6-litre diesel is perfectly acceptable and the 148bhp 2.0 diesel is strong in every gear. The sporty vRS models get powerful 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines that make them effortlessly fast.
The Octavia's cabin shames many more expensive cars for its quality and finish. The dashboard is logically laid out and the touch-screen infotainment system is one of the best around. It's easy for any driver to get comfortable and the only issue up front is a slightly compromised over-the-shoulder view. The Octavia is almost as big as a Ford Mondeo: six-foot adults can sit comfortably behind similarly sized front occupants, and the square-shaped boot is enormous. It's just a shame there's a step in the load bay when the front seats are tipped forward. Even the cheapest of the three Octavia trims (S) comes with air-con, alloy wheels, Bluetooth, a DAB radio, six-disc CD changer and a USB socket. Stepping up to SE adds rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control and rear electric windows, while Elegance trims includes sat-nav, leather seats and automatic headlights and wipers.
The Octavia is too new to have been included in the most recent JD Power ownership satisfaction survey, but the previous model was rated as 'excellent' for mechanical reliability. Safety provision is reassuring, too, with seven airbags as standard, although you have to pay extra for curtain airbags in the rear. Stability control is also standard, and although this Octavia hasn't yet been crash-tested by Euro NCAP, we expect a good result.
The Octavia makes a great choice for family transport: it's good to drive and has loads of space inside; it's also more affordable to buy and run than most of its rivals. The entry-level 1.2 TSI model is considerably cheaper the VW Golf with the same engine, and both the 1.6 and 2.0 diesels cost less to run as company cars than a Ford Mondeo. Fuel economy is impressive, too.