Skoda Octavia hatchback 2013 review - CarBuyer


The new Skoda Octavia takes a slightly different approach to most small hatchbacks. It offers much more space inside than the likes of the VW Golf,Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and, of course, other VW group family members like the Audi A3 and SEAT Leon. It’s great value, too, with decent prices and the sort of standard equipment that’s closer to a Kia Cee’d or Hyundai i30. Running costs should be low, too, thanks to a range of fuel-efficient engines with fuel-saving features such as automatic stop/start for the engine when the car comes to a halt. It all adds up to a great value, hugely spacious and high-quality package that easily won our 2013 CarBuyer Best Family Car award.

Mat: Size matters. You know it, I know it and Skoda knows it. In fact that was one of the main selling points of the original Octavia — it was less money and yet bigger than the VW Golf on which it was based. And this new Octavia is even bigger than before.

You see that boot it isn’t just the biggest in its class. It’s bigger than cars from the class above. So yes while this car is based on the Volkswagen Golf it’s boot is bigger than a Passat’s. And if you are into practicality then you will like this. Every Octavia comes with this in the fuel filler cap — it’s an ice scraper with magnifying glass — that should come in useful.

Anyway as well as having a massive boot the Octavia’s wheelbase is 10 cm longer than before which means there’s absolutely acres of legroom. Admittedly headroom isn’t quite so special due to the sloping roof but it’s easily enough for most adults. For instance I have more than enough and in case you are wondering I’m Mr Average at 5ft10 and a half — I’m mentioning the half because we’ve already established size does matter.

So does build quality, and the Octavia doesn’t disappoint in this department either. Everything is very well screwed together like you’d expect from a Volkswagen group product and all the controls are logically laid out and the instruments easy to read. Storage space is good too thanks to large door bins and a smattering of useful cubby spaces.

When it comes selecting your Skoda the entry level S car has almost all you really need like seven airbags, electronic anti-skid control, alloy wheels, height adjustment on the drivers seat and reach and rake for the steering wheel, air conditioning, Bluetooth for your mobile phone, iPod connectivity and touchscreen with digital radio.

There’s a wide range of options too including a self-park system for those intimated by the Octavia’s increased size. As well as bay parking it can also parallel park the car lengthways into a space. It controls the steering all you have to do is operate the brakes and throttle.

In terms of the rest of the driving experience the Octavia is generally very good. It’s pretty quiet and relaxing at speed yet also steers well, has plenty of grip and doesn’t roll about in the corners. I should point out some people may find the suspension a bit on the firm side though you only really notice it on a really badly surfaced road and anyway you could never call this car uncomfortable. Speaking of which, you can change the driving characteristics at the touch of this button. In comfort you have a softer throttle response and lighter steering whereas in sport the steering is heavier and the throttle response sharper. Don’t go thinking this makes the Octavia exciting to drive though — you’ll have to wait for the hot hatch VRS model for that.

There is no mistaking the Octavia is a brilliant car, but I wouldn’t be doing my job as a car reviewer if I didn’t find some problems with it. Can you just give me a moment while I think of some? Okay right — I think I have a couple — see this arm rest it’s a 150 pound option on all but the top of the range model surely everyone wants somewhere to rest their elbow. Also everyone likes to see what’s going on behind them — but rear visibility in the Octavia isn’t great because the back window. It’s just so far away.

To be honest though, all these issues are just minor niggles. They should not put you off the Octavia because it’s a truly great car which not only does everything well but provides unbeatable space at this price. And for that reason we awarded it the CarBuyer Best Family Car Award for 2013.