Skoda Octavia Estate (2013 -) Driving & Performance

Review by James Taylor on
Last Updated: 30 Oct 2015
4.5
Hot on the heels of the hatchback version comes the Skoda Octavia Estate, offering cavernous space for both people and luggage, low running costs and very competitive pricing. It’s not the most exciting car in the world, either to look at or to sit in, but as a car that does exactly what it sets out to do it’s very hard to fault.

3.5 out of 5

Performance

From the car’s launch (in spring 2013), there’s a choice of four engines: two petrols and two diesels. The engines are familiar from the hatchback and other VW group cars, and Skoda Octavia Estate performance is on a par with its rivals.

Petrol engines

Petrol choices are a 1.2 TSI with 103bhp or a 1.4 TSI with 138bhp, both of which are turbocharged.

The 1.2-litre TSI is a little engine in a big car but it punches well above its weight. It’s a smooth engine that enables decent acceleration, and although there’s a small amount of turbo lag low down it’s never enough of a problem to obstruct progress.

While the 1.2-litre engine is fitted with a solid-feeling six-speed manual gearbox as standard, the 1.4 TSI engine can also be had with the option of a seven-speed automatic dual-clutch DSG transmission. It’s the most powerful petrol engine available from launch, with 138bhp.

On the road it's an eager engine that pulls very strongly above 2,000rpm thanks to 250Nm of torque. It's also quiet and, provided you're disciplined with your right foot, fairly frugal too.

Diesel engines

The two turbodiesels are a 1.6-litre TDI engine with 103bhp and a 2.0-litre TDI engine with 147bhp. Both can be specced with either a manual gearbox or a DSG auto.

Like many diesels, the 1.6-litre unit has a small amount of turbo lag at low revs and can begin to struggle if left in too high a gear, but it’s nevertheless a smooth and impressive engine.

Most powerful diesel engine is the 2.0-litre TDI, which has plenty of power on tap but remains smooth and quiet. It’s well-suited to motorway driving and can hold its own on rural roads too.

We drove the engine together with the automatic DSG transmission, which can be a bit keen to shift down a gear sometimes and often does its own thing even with the driver using the manual-shift paddles behind the steering wheel. It’s still a great transmission however, capable of swapping gears incredibly quickly and smoothly.

There are 4x4 versions available but only with the two diesel engines and a six-speed manual gearbox.

If the ultimate in efficiency is what you’re after you’ll need an Octavia with a GreenLine badge on the boot. These have very frugal fuel consumption and CO2 figures: see the Costs section of this review for more details.

3 out of 5

Handling

The Octavia Estate drives very well, with characteristics similar to the VW Golf in feel (not surprising as the Octavia shares similar underpinnings).

Although you’d be unlikely to describe it as exciting to drive, it’s a stable, comfortable and easy car to pilot.

Like the Golf, a Drive Mode Select menu allows the driver to choose from different settings for the power steering and throttle response to best suit their driving style.

4x4 versions have a different multi-link suspension set-up and ride much more smoothly than front-wheel-drive versions. They’re also fitted with electronic diff locks on the front and rear axles to help the car find purchase on loose ground.

During our test we attempted a hill start on a very steep gravel-covered incline in the 2.0-litre diesel Octavia 4x4, and it achieved it without fuss. The relatively low ground clearance (4x4 versions aren’t any higher than a regular Octavia Estate) means serious off-roading is very much off-limits, though.

The 4x4 system also has some theoretical benefits for tarmac driving too, as power is sent to the rear wheels during fast cornering to help keep the car balanced and the electronic differential system gently brakes the inside wheels to help the car take a tighter line while cornering.

You’re unlikely to feel any of this tech at work while driving, however, unless you’re pushing particularly hard.