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What is the Skoda Octavia?

Spaciousness, practicality and decent quality have been hallmarks of the Skoda Octavia since the Czech brand reintroduced the name in the late-1990s, but it’s otherwise unrelated to its 1960s predecessor of the same name.

Although the Octavia range is underpinned by the same platform that supports the Audi A3, SEAT Leon and Volkswagen Golf, but it’s significantly larger than its cousins. Other rivals include mainstays such as the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra, as well as newer competitors like the Kia Ceed.

At-a-glance 2019 Skoda Octavia specs

  •  Top speed: 123-155mph
  • 0-62mph: 6.4-10.2 seconds
  • Fuel economy: 40-72mpg
  • Emissions: 103-156g/km of CO2
  • Boot space: 590-1,740 litres

Which versions of the Skoda Octavia are available?

Launched in 2013, the Mk3 Octavia – or Typ 5E if you’re a fan of internal codenames – has been a significant commercial success for Skoda, by maximising its value-for-money. It’s significantly larger, both inside and out, than the Golf upon which its based.

First on sale was the lengthy five-door Skoda Octavia Hatch, followed later in 2013 by the capacious Skoda Octavia Estate. That pair were joined in 2014 by a jacked-up Skoda Octavia Scout, blending typical SUV styling themes with the Estate’s bodywork.

A broad range of turbocharged TSI petrol and TDI diesel engines are provided in a wide range of power outputs to suit those who want to maximise economy or performance – more on the latter with thye vRS below. Despite their availability in other Volkswagen Group models, there are no plug-in hybrid or fully electric Octavias.

Trim levels follow Skoda’s usual form of S, SE and SEL, with the leather-lined luxury of Laurin & Klement at the top of the hierarchy. On the more athletic side of the range, SportLine was introduced in 2019 to sit below the vRS models.

What is the Skoda Octavia vRS?

Even two decades ago, the notion of a sporty Skoda would have been the punchline for a joke on Saturday night television. How times change.

Skoda revealed the Octavia vRS (or RS as it’s called outside the UK), midway through the life of the Mk1 generation, and it’s become a regular fixture of future generations, despite the smaller Fabia vRS being discontinued. In 2019 Skoda extended its performance offerings with the Kodiaq vRS – we’re promised other models in the range are being considered for vRS treatment, too.

Today’s Octavia vRS is available as both a Hatch and an Estate, with both diesel (184hp) and petrol (the one to have with 245hp) powerplants.

Rapid, fine handling and spacious, these are everyday performance cars that require no sacrifices for integrating into family life. What’s not to like?

Read our long-term Skoda Octavia vRS review

Skoda Octavia styling and engineering

It’s no secret that if you strip away the Skoda Octavia’s bodywork you’ll find the MQB adaptable platform and much of the engine range as used by the Audi A3, SEAT Leon and Volkswagen Golf, among others.

Skoda Octavia hatch rear

In many regards, inevitably, it feels similar to drive, albeit with a more relaxed, comfort-focused nature. That goes for the vRS, too, which is a pliant and less-frenzied hot hatch, and all the better for it.

Lower-powered Ocatvias can feel a little lacking in urgency, particularly when you’re looking to complete overtaking moves, but models with 150hp or more feel more reassuring with their performance.

Less successful was the facelift the Octavia received at the start of 2017, when the crisp styling was sullied with a curious quad headlamp arrangement, the lines of which don’t seem to match-up with either the wings or grille design.

Is the Skoda Octavia good to drive?

While the Octavia – vRS aside – is unlikely to excite you, it’s nevertheless one of those comfortable cars that’s particularly adept at soaking up long distances leaving its driver and occupants feeling relaxed at their destination.

Not only is the ride comfort something to write home about, the body control is also a strong point – the Octavia’s not a car that lists wildly as you take corners at speed.

Well-judged, well-balanced family transport.

How much does the Skoda Octavia cost?

In times of yore, Skodas were significantly cheaper than mainstream manufacturers outside the old Eastern Bloc. While they’re not exactly inexpensive, today’s models – Octavia included – offer good value for money compared with their immediate rivals.

They’re usually larger and equipped to a higher standard, making them even more compelling, providing you’re not of a generation that’s still put off by the badge.

Leasing and PCP deals are also good value, making them sensible, worthy choices.

Find out what Skoda Octavia drivers think of their cars with our comprehensive owners’ reviews.

Skoda Octavia Model History

Second-generation Skoda Octavia (2004-13)

Skoda Octavia MkII (2004-13)

Although the styling of the Mk2 Octavia – or Typ 1Z as Skoda insiders refer to it – was clearly an evolution of the original, it was sharper, better-built, featured a much-improved interior and finally had a generous amount of rear legroom.

Power came from a variety of petrol and diesel engines used elsewhere in other Volkswagen Group products, with the most powerful – a 200hp TFSI petrol – being found only in the sportiest Octavia vRS.

Skoda facelifted the Octavia in 2009, introducing a much softer-looking nose with a larger headlamp and grille combination. At the same time, the Octavia Hatch and Estate were joined by the Octavia Scout – a spacious wagon with an elevated ride height and crossover styling cues, such as plastic wheelarch extensions.

Read our user-generated second-generation Octavia owners’ reviews and find examples for sale.

First-generation Skoda Octavia (1998-05)

Skoda Octavia Mk1

The Mk1 Octavia – or Typ 1U – was the beginning of the end of Skoda jokes. Here was a modern, if slightly staid-looking, five-door hatchback that offered spaciousness (rear legroom aside), safety and efficiency with a contemporary range of petrol and diesel engines.

Despite being offered in Europe from 1996, it was two years later – with an improved interior – that the Octavia reached the UK, with the even roomier Octavia Estate following the Hatchback a few months later.

Sporty Skodas weren’t exactly uncharted waters for the Czech brand – it’d been selling Rapid Coupes for over a decade before the Ocatvia’s arrival – but it hadn’t offered a production model with the vRS’s 182hp output.

Other European markets continued to be sold the Mk1 Octavia alongside the Mk2 for several years from 2004, but in the UK it was discontinued when the Estate was replaced in 2005.

Discover what drivers think of their first-generation Octavias in our owners’ reviews and look at used cars for sale.