Skoda Octavia review 2020

Find out more about the Skoda Octavia in the latest MOTORS Review

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Out of 5


  • Supremely practical
  • Good choice of engines
  • Great value


  • Heavy depreciation
  • DSG gearboxes can be problematic
  • Handling and ride could be better
Model review

Debuting in the United Kingdom in 1998, Skoda’s Octavia was something of a watershed moment for the Czech manufacturer, looking like a genuine contender in the saloon car market from day one, in a time not so far removed from the brand being something of a punch line.  

In the 20-plus years since, the now Volkswagen-owned firm is far removed from the Lada-esque image it once had, and the Octavia definitely had a big part to play in that, utilising an extended platform from the VW Golf as its bassline 


In 2004, the second-generation Octavia arrived on the market, and would offer a raft of improvements over its predecessor, with a notable increase in curves throughout the car’s silhouette, as opposed to the boxy shape of the first-gen car.  


The second Octavia would last on the market until 2013, though it received a major facelift during in 2009, affecting both the interior and exterior of the car.  


The third and current version of the Octavia would then arrive, with a facelift implemented in 2017. 

Current model

The current Octavia is certainly a good, solid car to live with at all times 

It’s perfectly adept and comfortable on motorways, making it an ideal long-distance performer. However, if you slow things down in town, it can become a little fidgety and unstable, and potholes can create a significant jolt.  

If you opt to spec Dynamic Chassis Control, this goes some way to alleviating these issues, but probably not to an extent where you’ll consider it to be worth extra money.  

The Octavia handles fairly well, but don’t expect the levels of poise or practicality you’d get from the Ford Focus or Volkswagen Group stablemates, the VW Golf and Seat LeonIt’s very light in town, which could be a big selling point, depending on your circumstances. 

Value for money

At a starting price of £18,610, the Octavia is certainly fairly good value; it’s £2,300 cheaper than a Golf. Plus, given it has a saloon body rather than the hatchback from most rivals, it has the edge on practicality.  

Courtesy of that body shape, you can also consider it a rival to non-premium saloons such as Vauxhall’s Insignia and the Ford Mondeo 

On the used market, the first-generation Octavia can be had for around £500, though these cars will often hold over 150,000 miles on the clock. The cheapest second-generation cars can also be found for well under £1,000.  

First-generation models seem to be fairly rare on the used market, with very little available with low miles, and hardly any options around for above £1,500.  

Second-generation models with less than 70,000 miles can be had for under £2,500, with some very promising later-year low-milers available for around £4,000. 

£4,000 is also the rough starting block for current-generation, pre-facelift cars, while models with less than 80,000 miles on the clock can be had from roughly £6,500.  

£9,500 will net you the first cars that benefitted from the 2017 facelift, with as many as 50,000 miles on the clock. Meanwhile, nearly new cars with less than 3,000 miles on the clock can be had for as little as £15,000.  

Looks and image

It must be said that the Octavia is hardly a breath-taking car, though it becomes rather more handsome in higher-grade trims, and of course, Skoda’s signature vRS performance variant.  

The original Octavia was exceedingly popular with mini cab drivers, and while that customer base isn’t as responsible for as many sales as it once was, it’s still a fruitful market for the Czech saloon. It’s not as if you’re driving in a classic London taxi, of course, but it certainly does have a whiff of mini-cab about it.  

Video review

Space and practicality

Boot space in the Octavia is very impressive relative to the hatchbacks it is in direct competition with, and even some saloons. Its boot offers an impressive 590 litres; this beats the estate variants of the Vauxhall Insignia, Ford Mondeo and Mazda6, which highlights just how vast the space offered really is. It can be extended, too; fold the rear seats down for a whopping 1,580-litre loading bay, and you’ll be able to haul very large loads indeed.  

Truly, the Octavia is something of a tour de force when it comes to practicality, as things are just as promising in the cabin. There’s plenty of headroom for all seats, and though it wouldn’t comfortably fit five adults on a long journey, three children will be perfectly catered for on the backbench 

Another bonus is the Octavia’s impressive interior stowage; there are plenty of cubbyholes, including the large, air-conditioned glovebox and massive door bins, both of which add to an already considerable suite of luggage room.  



There are plenty of engine options for Octavia customers to choose from, in both the petrol and diesel stakes.  

The base petrol engine is a 1.0-litre, 113bhp unit, which is typically offered as the cheapest option on a trim level. While it isn’t the most powerful engine, it does prove sufficient for the most part.  

A 148bhp, 1.5-litre engine is next up, while the top spec motor in the petrol stakes is a 187bhp, 2.0-litre unit found in the higher spec cars.  

The diesel range is kicked off with a 1.6-litre TDI engine with 113bhp, while a 148bhp 2.0-litre is also available. 

Running costs

Unsurprisingly, it is the diesel range where the best economy lies, with the 1.6-litre, 113bph unit offering up of 58.9mpg, though you can expect it to stick around the 50mpg benchmark in the real world. 

The base petrol is capable of up to 50.4mpg.  

Insurance groupings for the Octavia range between 13E and 24E.  

Things to look out for

Skoda is among the more dependable manufacturers out there, with a good reputation for reliability across the board. But, while an Octavia is by no means an unreliable car, like all vehicles, there have been some reported issues. 

The most commonly reported hiccup is the DSG automatic gearbox, which is a shared part across the Volkswagen brands with something of a reputation for being problematic. As such, you should pay close attention to the smoothness of the gear changes when testing a used model.  



As well as the cars it shares a platform with – the Volkswagen Golf and Seat Leon – it also lines up against the Kia Ceed, Ford Focus, Renault Megane and the Toyota Corolla 

Owing to its saloon body style and practicality, it can also be considered a rival to the likes of the Ford Mondeo 



The Octavia’s depreciation can be fairly sharp in the first year, losing £4,000 or more, depending on your mileage. However, if you are a light mileage driver, your car will still be worth just under half of its new value in three years.  

Trims explained

The Octavia offers six trims to choose from.


This model receives 16-inch alloy wheels, front LED daytime running lights, a leather steering wheel, automatic post collision braking, an eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, DAB radio and electrically adjustable heated door mirrors.

Starts at £18,610.


This spec adds chrome finished door handles, an umbrella under the passenger seat, cruise control, a voice control system and extra storage options throughout the cabin.

Starts at £19,685,

'SE Drive'

This spec also builds on the base S spec, adding 17-inch alloy wheels, a driver fatigue sensor, a selection of driving modes, satellite navigation and integrated Wi-Fi.

Available from £20,290.

'SE L'

This spec adds LED headlights, telescopic front headlight washers, a chrome front bumper strip and privacy glass. Inside, microsuede and leather upholstery is added to the mix.

Starts at £23,140.


Sportline adds sporting touches to the Octavia, including 18-inch alloy wheels, gloss black exterior details and sports seats, steering wheel and upholstery.

Available from £23,895.


This spec is the luxurious option in the line-up, and gains rear LED lights, heated front seats, electrically adjustable driver’s seat with memory function, L&K door sill trims, decorative interior inserts, interior lighting, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry, parking and lane assist, a 9.2-inch touchscreen with an uprated SatNav and audio system.

This is an appropriately upmarket £29,955 price tag.


  1. Great value overall
  2. Exceedingly practical
  3. Handling isn’t the best in class
  4. DSG gearbox can be unreliable
  5. L&K spec adds luxurious appeal at a cost
  6. Diesel and petrol options are economical
  7. Some great value used deals to be found…
  8. …but as a consequence, it is a fairly heavy depreciator
  9. Headroom is class-leading
  10. Still a popular taxi choice, with a mini cab image to boot

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