Skoda Octavia 1.4 TSI SE L 2017

Learn more about Skoda's best-selling car in the UK.

The brand that used to be the butt of many jokes is now a serious player in the automotive arena – and has been for some years now. I’m talking about Czech automaker, Skoda – and, in particular, about its best-selling car in Britain – the Octavia.

In hatchback guise, the Octavia is the most popular Skoda in the UK because families love big hatches that are also comfortable and easy on the wallet. I test-drove the facelifted Octavia with the SE L trim. I was immediately won over by its spanking new intelligent Sat-Nav, Wi-Fi hotspot capacity, and 9.2-inch infotainment system. The technology includes the ability to hook up your smartphone, so you can access info on the car’s screen via Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
Thankfully, the combination of the practical, comfy cabin, with the up-to-the-minute infotainment system and synthetic suede seats, is a more pleasing aesthetic. The shiny touchscreen in my review car was effective and undemanding to use. The interior is roomy enough for four adults, or for two in the front and three kids in the back. There are lots of places to store anything, from bottles in the door bins to paperwork in the glove compartment, and there are little coin storage areas, too. But the Octavia’s most practical area is the boot. It’s simply enormous and puts many estate cars to shame. The load area has 590 litres of space with the seats up and 1580 litres with the rear seats folded. To put that in perspective, the biggest rival to the Octavia, the Ford Focus, only has 316 litres of boot space and 1215 litres with the back seats down.
Now, looks are a funny thing; I preferred the appearance of the pre-facelifted Octavia. The remodelled front end on the 2017 version is a bit ‘Marmite’. In other words, you'll either love it or you'll hate it. And this is due to the bisecting headlights that, to me, just look wrong. I think this is because, overall, the Octavia has been given traditionalist styling everywhere else, so the angular, split, front lights seem inconsistent.

At the other end of the car, the new Octavia hatchback I tested has a sweet revving 1.4-litre petrol turbo unit under the bonnet. This engine is a good halfway house between the ultra-parsimonious, but sluggish, 1.0-litre petrol powerplant and the musclier, but harsher sounding, 1.6-litre diesel Octavia.
In this 1.4 Octavia hatch, the car puts out 150ps, meaning acceleration is quick. Zero to 62mph is achieved in 8.1 seconds, with hardly any turbo lag noticeable. Best of all, though, average fuel economy is 54.3mpg.

The new Octavia’s handling is a bit hit and miss. The hatchback copes with traumatised tarmac, with the suspension sopping up the worst bangs and thumps from potholes. Alas, the car’s rear end tends to bounce around when tackling gradients at speed. Jittery is the best way to describe the latest Octavia – but only really when pummelling undulating B-roads.
However, the Skoda Octavia is one of the most pleasing family cars to drive on a motorway or in town. The six-speed manual transmission is smooth shifting, while the steering is direct but light in the hand. In many ways, the Octavia gives you all you need if you’re after a large family hatchback. 
Regardless of its controversial new front-end design and occasional twitchiness, the Octavia is an excellent machine. Its boot will gobble up more stuff than any other motor in its class, it has a robust, roomy cabin and it munches the miles with aplomb. Therefore, if you’re looking for a family ride that’s easy to drive, voluminous, efficient and quick off the blocks, this is one of the best available.
 Pros ‘n’ Cons
  • Room √
  • Comfort √
  • Acceleration √
  • Economy √
  • Bisecting Headlights X


Fast Facts (Octavia Hatchback 1.4 TSI SE L 2017 - as tested)
  • Max speed: 136 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 8.1 secs
  • Combined mpg: 54.3
  • Engine layout: 1395cc four-cylinder petrol turbo
  • Max. power (PS): 150
  • CO2: 121 g/km          
  • Price: £21,565
Written by motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay.
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