2017 Skoda Octavia Estate Review – The Thinking Man’s Family Estate – Car Keys


The Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus-rivalling
Skoda Octavia may not be the most striking hatchback on sale, but it puts in a phenomenal
shift for the Czech brand, being its biggest seller worldwide, making up a massive 41 per
cent of its sales. So, it’s already doing a great job, and
like all other manufacturers, Skoda is following the ‘if it aint broke, maybe still tweak
it a bit’ regime, so there’s some minor changes for 2017, there’s slightly reworked,
fancier headlights, reminiscent of the new Kodiaq SUV, and a reshaped bumper that’s
now lower. And you’ve got to admit, it does look a
smidge smarter, but the more significant changes are to its in-car tech and safety kit. So let’s talk about the new stuff first,
well, the infotainment system in the Octavia has had a significant revamp from entry-level.
You’ve essentially got three different options, in either 8 or 9.2 inch, there’s the Bolero
system, Amundsen system, then this, the 9.2-inch Columbus system. Now each of these focus on
offering more smartphone-like interfaces, and they really do, especially this Columbus
system. I mean for me, I think this is perfect – it’s
actually Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatible as standard – and you’ve got a very Android-esque
layout that’s simple but still manages to be smart and avoid looking bland. Massive
improvement here, well done Skoda. Now the updated safety kit in the Octavia
includes the likes of Predictive Pedestrian Protection for autonomous braking – and
this is standard on our Laurin and Klement model, and this sits alongside the likes of
adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning. Apart from that, typical Skoda layout, which
is to say it’s smart, and well-laid out, but not particularly adventurous. Our L&K
model actually has these smart chocolate-coloured inlays. In fact, the new screen does wonders
for the interior in terms of sprucing things up a bit. So, the Octavia has always been one of the
ones to beat when it comes to space, and the latest model is no different. You’ve got
the same proportions so that means there’s loads of both head and leg room. And there’s
enough for three passengers to sit comfortably. The boot’s even better… As this is the Octavia Estate, you get the
standard hatch’s 590 litres – and then some, with boot space standing at 610 litres
or 1,740 litres if you fold the seats down. It’s not just cause it’s big though, it’s
nice and square too and you’ve got some handy Simply Clever features to play around
with too. Nothing has changed mechanically for the 2017
Octavia Estate, so you can expect it to drive just like before, which is to say it drives
very similar to a Volkswagen. It’s sensible, comfortable, easy to drive around town, happy
to cruise along quietly on the motorway. Yeah, everything you’d want from a car. Well, as long as that doesn’t include sporty
driving. You see as carefree the Octavia is to drive, it still fails to offer anything
excitement wise. The steering is accurate, but doesn’t offer much feedback, and especially
with the estate model, it does feel slightly on the bulky side on the road. There are some adjustable driving modes, including
Sport and Eco mode which tweak the steering and throttle input, but there nothing special.
In fact, I think the only real highlight is how the Sport mode hangs onto gears longer. But that’s not where the Octavia’s USP
lies, it’s designed to just get you around and have you feeling fresh when you arrive
– and it does exactly that. Just like most other Skodas, the engine line-up in the Octavia
is excellent as well, there’s a 1.0-litre turbo, a mid-range 1.6 diesel and this 2.0-litre
148bhp diesel we’ve got. And this engine gives you everything really
– a sprint time of 8.6 seconds, yet you should comfortably get an average of around
50mpg. And this DSG automatic keeps up well with even the most erratic shifts in driving
characteristics. One of the biggest boons of the Octavia is
its price though, as it starts from under £18,500 – which is less than most rival
estates, including the Volkswagen Golf Estate, Honda Civic Tourer and the Ford Focus Estate.
And even if you want to go for a mid-range spec, it stays affordable too. And that’s just another reason why the Octavia
is a car you buy with your head and not necessarily your heart. I mean I love it. I love how it
just gets on with it. But it’s that very equilibrium that might put some people off.

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