Generous levels of equipment for the budget end of the market.
Very fuel efficient engines.
Great servicing reputation from Skoda dealers.
Five star NCAP rating.
Dull styling inside and out. Especially prior to the 2009 facelift.
Whilst economical, the diesel powerplants are also far too noisy
The Skoda brand has been a staple of European roads for decades now and has spent much of that time as the butt of jokes, yet over the last decade or so it has reinvented itself as a purveyor of sensible well-equipped budget cars. The Octavia is no different boasting a fuel efficient engine range and generous trim levels.
Octavia Typ1Z (2004 - 2013)
Released in 2004, the Octavia was built on the same platform as the Mk5 VW Golf and features both estate and four wheel drive formats in addition to the hatchback. The selection of engines is staggering and contains ten varieties of petrol powerplant alone. Ranging in size from 1.2 litres to the 2.0 litre hot hatch there's a nice range of choice but few stand out as engineering feats. So far as the petrol range is concerned the 1.8 litre 160 BHP TSi is the pick of the bunch with good midrange pull and fairly sensible consumption given the power.
The diesels do stand out in that they have an above average level of fuel efficiency, purposefully designed to appeal to your thrifty Skoda buyer. The lowest running costs come with the 1.6 litre diesel which despite being a little too noisy gives an impressive 74 miles per gallon. Other options include a 1.9 litre and six(!) varieties of the 2.0 litre TDi to choose from.
The interior is boring but spacious with the seating offering relative comfort with good ergonomics. The Octavia is a perfectly sensible motorway cruiser and in its estate form offers the kind of storage levels a holidaying family could well need. It's not a class leader by any stretch of the imagination, but for getting from A to B in secure and cheap fashion, it's a definite option. The facelifted versions of 2009 onwards, with their almost Audi-looking face, are the best bet for
Octavia Typ5E (2013 - Present)
The Type5E incarnation of the Octavia is a recent addition to the Skoda family and makes a few real improvements on the previous generation. The real improvements of note come in the provision of more generous trim levels and technology in addition to upgraded engines. Options like 16" alloy wheels and bluetooth integration all come as standard now whilst even the mid range trim includes the sci-fi adaptive cruise feature which ensures you stay a preset distance from the car in front.
The range of powerplants was simplified which is something of a relief when browsing the range. The petrol variants come in 1.2, 1.6, 1.8 and 2.0 litre variants with nice improvements in fuel efficiency making them a more sensible option now. The big surprise comes with the fact that the best selling diesel portion of the engine range is now only available in two sizes, a 1.6 and 2.0 litre turbo diesel. The new 1.6 litre turbo diesel offers drivers fuel consumption of over 80 miles to the gallon! Whilst the engineering of the new diesels is great in terms of power delivery and fuel efficiency the noise problem still remains. Overall the Typ5E is a nice evolution of the Octavia boasting good reliability, improved styling, fantastic safety ratings and good technological innovation.
Competition and conclusion
The Skoda Octavia is a good all-rounder but in the current market that's not enough to stand out. The equipment levels are certainly more generous for the latest generation but this seems to be a feature across all manufacturers at the moment. For a cheap transport car the diesel estate variants of the Octavia are a sensible pick but otherwise there are more involving and better styled family cars to choose from. That said, the estate versions of the latest generation are a very sensible pick and have been rated as one of the best family cars on the road, when pricing is given due consideration of course. Try out the Typ 5E... you may be surprised.