Skoda Octavia (2020): UK prices and specs announced

  • Sharp new Skoda Octavia based on Mk8 Golf driven
  • More space and more technology than ever
  • Prices start at £22,390 with cheaper trim to follow

The fourth-generation Skoda Octavia boasts cutting-edge tech, a sharper new style, and prices that start at £22,390 – although expect that to drop under £20,000 when the full range is on sale.

Fittingly, Skoda'a answer to the latest Golf Mk8 shares much of the VW's technology under the skin - and despite toned-up same-again styling, it's a huge leap forwards. We've now driven it in production form, and got hold of Skoda's pricing and trim structure before the car arrives in July 2020.

The new Octavia hopes to build a more upmarket image following on from the introduction of the latest Superb. Like that luxurious giant, the Octavia still has dimensions that are bigger than its more traditional hatchback rivals such as the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra - it's closer in size to the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia. As before, the new Skoda comes in hatchback and estate bodystyles available.

How much will it cost?

The Skoda Octavia will be launched in July 2020 with three trim levels and three engines, in both Hatch and Estate forms. Unusually there are not one but two high-spec 'First Edition' models plus a more business-focused trim. Prices start with the petrol SE First Edition hatch, which costs £22,390, rising to £29,515 for the top of the range, diesel-powered, SE L First Edition.

If that sounds a bit pricey to you it's worth noting that the Octavia is being launched with two heavily specced trims and the more powerful 1.5-litre petrol engine. A base-spec S model and a 1.0-litre petrol will come later in 2020 and we'd expect this combination to come in under £20,000.

For now though the entry-level car is called SE First Edition boasts safety systems like front assist and lane keeping assistant, plus 8.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system, full smartphone connectivity and Skoda's new 10.25-inch digital dials - all cars get this as standard, in fact.

2020 Skoda Octavia digital dials

Range-topper SE L First Edition gets you 17-inch alloys, chrome window surrounds and trim on the outside, plus heated, electrically-adjustable microsuede seats and LED ambient lighting on the inside. The larger Columbus infotainment system is standard, and comes with voice control and online services. This car also ups the safety tech with blind spot protection, front and rear parking sensors and adaptive cruise control that works down to a stop.

Sat in the middle is the SE Technology trim – from £22,640 - which is aimed squarely at company car drivers. With this car you get 16-inch alloys, 10-inch Columbus infotainment system, and front and rear parking sensors with manoeuvre assist.

Not Simply Clever enough for you? All Octavias come with five USB charge points including one in the rear-view mirror that you can use for a dashcam.

Broad engine range - including mild-hybrids and a plug-in hybrid

The Octavia’s engine selection has been completely overhauled, and is made up of petrol, diesel, mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) options.

Initally you'll be able to choose from a 1.5 TSI petrol with 150hp and a 2.0 TDI diesel with 115hp - both with a six-speed manual gearbox. SE L First Edition customers can spec the same diesel engine but with 150hp and a seven-speed DSG gearbox as standard.

More  options will be added throughout 2020 - including a 1.0-litre petrol with 110hp, and a 2.0-litre TSI petrol with 190hp and all-wheel drive.

2020 Skoda Octavia driving side view

There are also mild hybrid versions of these petrols that Skoda calls eTEC. Fitted with the DSG automatic transmission and using a clever 48-volt electronics system, these feature an enhanced stop-start system to save even more fuel and can give a small boost in performance.

Diesel is still important, however, with three 2.0-litre TDI units in the line-up, offering a choice of 116hp, 150hp and 200hp power outputs. The latter is DSG and 4x4-only, while the others are available with manual or DSG transmissions. The 150hp unit is also available with all-wheel drive.

Finally, a plug-in hybrid called the Octavia iV is available, making use of a 1.4-litre TSI petrol and electric motor for a combined power output of 204hp and 350Nm. It uses a six-speed DSG transmission, and comes in hatch and estate body styles. Skoda claims it’ll travel up to 34 miles on battery power alone.

What’s it like to drive?

We've already been lucky enough to get out out on the road in two versions of the 2020 Skoda Octavia – a 1.5-litre petrol with a six-speed manual gearbox and a 2.0-litre diesel paired to a seven-speed DSG automatic. Both had 150hp at their disposal, though as is normally the case, the diesel comes with more torque, making it feel more muscular.

Skoda Octavia (2020) driving, rear

The new Octavia feels a lot like the outgoing car to drive, which isn’t a bad thing at all. Both engines are reassuringly quiet - a sign of good quality soundproofing - and remain so until right at the top of their rev ranges.

The petrol engine feels less responsive low-down in the rev range, but it’s really smooth and feels more than fast enough for most applications. It’s also a great pairing to the six-speed manual gearbox, which feels solid and positive. Though like many Volkswagen Group gearboxes it doesn’t like to be hurried.

Drivers who do particularly high mileage or plan to load the vast boot up to max capacity will prefer the muscular diesel. It’s noisier than the petrol, though not by much, and the metallic edge to its sound disappears once you’re on the move.

Skoda Octavia 2020 - Estate, front view, driving

One area where the Octavia has been improved is the handling and enjoyment in the corners: with the optional adaptive dampers the Estate is more confident in all speed ranges and surface types, with road bumps effectively isolated from the cabin.

At the same time the steering feels more precise and it grips the road better when accelerating. The sophisticated traction control system helps it behave more dynamically than before, too.

What's the interior like?

Skoda has left no stone - or plastic component - unturned when it comes to the new Octavia's cockpit design. The dashboard has undergone the biggest change over the old car; borrowing heavily from the Golf Mk8, there’s a very simple look, which Skoda calls a ‘multi-level’ design.

Full digital dials (optional) and a large central touchscreen (up to 10.0 inches in size) are present and correct with an updated operating system compared with the outgoing car, including a row of buttons beneath the screen for shortcuts, and a touch-sensitive bar for the volume control.

2020 Skoda Octavia Estate interior

This can also be used to change the temperature of the climate control and operate the optional panoramic sunroof, albeit with a different type of swipe for each. This might take a bit of getting used to.

There's a similar system in the Mk8 VW Golf and found it to be innovative in approach and quite successful in use, but some settings require you to now work deeper into the submenus, and while driving this can be a bit of a distraction.

Other changes include a new two-spoke steering wheel with plenty of buttons, and a rocker switch to shift gears instead of the traditional gearlever for automatic models. There are big improvements in quality, with plenty of ambient lighting and different materials used.

All-in-all the new car now feels significantly more modern inside and pleasantly reduced in button count.

What has changed externally?

Both the Octavia Hatch and Octavia Estate are the same length as each other, but both longer than their predecessors (19mm for the hatch, 22mm for the estate), and wider, too.

Skoda Octavia (2020) static, front

On the outside, the Octavia mixes the look of the larger Superb with the newer Scala, featuring a low grille, slim headlights and plenty of chrome detailing around the car in higher-sepc models.

At the back, Skoda's latest rear light design features, with plenty of angles and creases, as well as the new logo spelled out across the tailgate. It’s a really crisp and premium design overall. In fact, viewed from the rear three-quarters, the Octavia Estate has more than a whiff of BMW 3 Series Touring about it – high praise indeed.

Lots of tech available for the first time

It wouldn’t be a new, updated car without some more tech to headline the specs, so the Octavia has been loaded-up with a host of new pieces of kit. LED lights are standard throughout, for example, with the option to upgrade to matrix adaptive units. Plus there are on-trend scrolling indicators available, too.

There’s also a head-up display for the first time, while the selection of driver assistance and safety tech has been increased. In addition to the existing adaptive cruise control and blindspot monitors, there is greater collision avoidance tech that will control the car if you don’t, alert you to a potential collision at a junction, and warn you about traffic jams coming up - all available for the first time.

Even more space

The Octavia has always been one of the most spacious vehicles in its class and often those a size above, particularly in terms of boot volume. This continues with the new car - the Estate version coming in at 640-litres with the rear seats in place, 1700-litres with them folded, surpassing the space available in a BMW 5 Series Touring from the class above. Even the Octavia Hatch offers 600 litres of boot space.

Skoda Octavia 2020 - Estate boot space

On top of this, the new edition improves on back seat space, particularly when it comes to passenger knee room. No rival comes close.

Long-distance driving comfort is improved with new seats similar to the ErgoComfort ones you’ll find in the VW Passat range. A higher degree of adjustability with electric lumbar support and massage function is available in a variety of fabrics and materials depending on the model you opt for.

Being a Skoda, the new Octavia is also packed full of ‘Simply Clever’ touches.

Skoda Octavia 2020 - rear seat space

Skoda fits an umbrella in the door jamb – just like on a Rolls-Royce – plus optional winged head restraints in the rear that allow passengers to have a proper sleep. These are all subtle touches but they do make a big difference.

Should I buy a Skoda Octavia?

It’s too early to tell yet, but initial impressions of this car are very good indeed. We like the new style, the space, and how it drives, though we’re not huge fans of the new, button-free interior, as it's not as easy to use.

Our full verdict will have to wait until we've had the chance to drive the car extensively in the UK.

Further reading:

Skoda Octavia Estate (2020) static, rear