Review – Skoda Octavia SE L First Edition estate offers savvy value

A few years ago I was ­collared at a party by an environmentalist who wanted some car advice.

“We’ve got a Jaguar estate but we want something more environmentally friendly,” she said. “We’re not interested in cars so it doesn’t need to be fancy.”

Easy, I replied, you should buy a Skoda Octavia estate with a modern, clean, diesel engine.

“Oh no,” she exclaimed. “We wouldn’t buy a Skoda.”

Not quite so disinterested in status after all, are we?

Some of my friends are rather more savvy and willing to take advice. One bought a Skoda Superb five years ago and still loves it.

I’m a Skoda enthusiast even though they are not quite the bargain they used to be.

Colin loves an estate – and says you should too

Hopefully the new Octavia we’re testing this week continues in the tradition of offering good value so I can continue recommending them. I’ve chosen to test the estate version because I love estate cars, and so do you.

Like the new Golf and Seat Leon that we tested two weeks ago, the Octavia is based on VW’s MQB platform.

The wheelbase is the same as before but the car’s length has grown by 22mm, width by 15mm and height by 3mm.

These are moves to increase interior space but to my mind the Octavia was spacious enough – making it harder to park isn’t worth the extra elbow room.

We’re testing the top-of-the-range SE L First Edition. In general I prefer the entry-level models because that’s where the value for money and simplicity lies.

It’s built on the same platform as the VW
And the boot has grown by 30 litres to 640 litres

In this spec we have the choice of three engines: a 1.5-litre petrol with 148bhp; and two 2.0-litre diesels – one with 114bhp and the other with 148bhp.

We’ve got the lower powered of the two diesel engines, and a six- speed manual gearbox. Quite an old-school combination.

I’m a long way off giving up on diesel engines, particularly very clean ones like the one under this bonnet. I like being able to drive 650 miles without having to refuel.

Anyway, we’re off to a bad start. The Octavia is telling me what to do. The new virtual cockpit instrument panel is constantly advising me when to change gear and lift off the accelerator pedal.

Colin isn’t so sold on being told what to do by the cockpit all the time

And it has the most intrusive lane keep assist system I’ve ever experienced. Switching off some of this nannying requires entering, via the 10.25in touchscreen, the infotainment system. And then it all comes back on again after you stop and restart the car.

I’ve yet to be convinced that the motorist asked for all this in the first place.

From 2022 these lane support systems will be mandatory on all new cars. I might have to buy a Morris Minor.

These gripes aside, the new Octavia estate is as good as it’s always been – and better in several areas.

Things like the easy-to-use infotainment system and wireless phone charging are a bonus though

The infotainment system is easy to use and features smartphone pairing via SmartLink (no cables) and there’s wireless charging for your phone.

A head-up display is available as an option for the first time on a Skoda. It costs £690 – I’d have it.

The boot has grown by 30 litres to 640 litres. Also an Octavia feature is a great spread of storage spaces and cubby holes. And you still get a free umbrella. Rolls-Royce give you one too but charges a bit more for the car itself.

Car Reviews

Which neatly brings us on to price. Our test car is £27,140. Tot up the list of standard equipment in the SE L and you have a very good value proposition.

However, as noted earlier, it’s the humbler trim levels that really deliver. The entry-level Octavia estate SE First Edition costs £24,280 with the same engine and gearbox.

Good enough for me and for my cost-conscious friends.

THE FACTS

Skoda Octavia SE L First Edition five-door estate

It’s great for the cost-conscious

 

Price: £27,140

Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel, 114bhp

0-62mph: 10.4sec

Fuel consumption: 55.4-62.8mpg

Co2: 118g/km

THE RIVALS

Ford Focus ST Line X

The Ford will set you back £27,830

Not as spacious as the Skoda. Good to drive though.

Kia Ceed Sportswagon ‘3’

he Kia Ceed Sportswagon ‘3’ is just £25,180

Attractive and excellent value for money.

Peugeot 308SW GT Line

The Peugeot 308 SW GT Line costs £27,730

Stylish and practical. A new model is on its way.

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