Hatchback version of Skoda’s affordable family transport gets driven on UK roads for the first time
Skoda may be an automotive synonym for utility but I guarantee this won’t be at the forefront of your mind when you clap eyes on the the new Octavia. Still available in both hatchback and estate form, nothing aside from the introduction of hybrid powertrains has changed radically since the third-generation car, and yet the sharper creases, sharper lighting and surprisingly sharp silhouette deliver a car more striking in the metal than many of the Octavia’s recently refreshed including the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Seat Leon. Naturally, the new Octavia is also less expensive than its rivals, and the upcoming entry-level 1.0-litre TSI should drop below £20,000. Models equipped with the ultra-smooth Volkswagen-built 148bhp 1.5-litre TSI tested here aren’t quite so exceptionally affordable, but do still undercut most rivals. And they do it despite the inclusion of Skoda’s new 10.25in virtual cockpit display, five USB-C ports, cruise control, light and rain sensors, two-zone climate-control, smartphone wireless (wireless for Apple CarPlay) and rear parking sensors as standard. There is then the not-so-small matter of space. The Octavia uses the same MQB platform as its Golf and Leon cousins so touts an identical wheelbase, but slimmer seats (with dedicated phone pockets) free up some legroom in the back and the sloping hatch results in 600 litres of boot space, compared to a paltry-looking 380 litres for the others. So despite its sharp new suit, clearly the Octavia remains very much The Pragmatists’ Choice in this class.