This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Skoda Octavia Estate review.

Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5
  • Four engines to choose from
  • Manual or auto, two- or all-wheel drive
  • Petrol and diesel vRS options too

You've got a choice of two petrol and two diesel engines in the Octavia Estate line-up, with manual and automatic gearboxes and the option of two- or all-wheel drive. There's no hybrid (conventional or plug-in) or electric model, but for all other intents and purposes, it covers all bases.

Petrol engines

The 1.0-litre Octavia may be the smallest engine in the range but it mustn't be overlooked - you'd imagine a motor so diminutive would struggle to move a car so large, but you'd be wrong. Despite 115hp and 200Nm of torque, it's only the second slowest model when it comes to accelerating from 0-62mph, taking 10.1 seconds, and topping out at 123mph. Plenty pokey enough to keep up with traffic.

In the Octavia hatch we said this engine was entirely sufficient, providing a cheap to buy and run option for drivers who don't clock up enough miles to justify a diesel and aren't overly bothered by high-performance. In the estate it's less clear cut - we're assuming you've chosen the larger booted version because you plan to carry more stuff than someone buying a hatchback, and this version may struggle when loaded up.

For occasion load-lugging and frequent town miles though, this 1.0-litre version could well be all the Octavia you need.

2020 Skoda Octavia Estate vRS engine

If that doesn't appeal there's the 150hp 1.5-litre TSI EVO engine. This is noticeably quicker than the 1.0-litre thanks to some extra torque - 250Nm of it - meaning a 0-62mph sprint in 8.8 seconds. It sounds a bit strained at higher revs though and it's not particularly characterful, but it certainly does the job.

Diesel engines

Slightly more convincing in terms of running costs and pulling power for the Octavia Estate are the two diesel engines - a frugal 1.6 and a punchier 2.0-litre.

Kicking things off is the mainstay 1.6-litre TDI, which is the ideal choice if you just the most miles per gallon and aren't bothered much about outright performance. That's because with 115hp and 250Nm of torque, this is the slowest version to accelerate from 0-62mph, taking 10.4 seconds.

As we found in the hatchback, this engine is noisy on start-up and when accelerating, so for the best refinement and fuel economy, it's one to be treated with a featherlight right foot.

The best all-round choice is the 150hp 2.0-litre TDI, with a strong 340Nm of torque and 0-62mph time of 8.6 seconds. Despite this it's still cheap to run (especially when compared with the petrols) and due to a boost in power over its smaller sibling, this version is easier to keep quiet because it doesn't need its neck wringing in order to make good progress.

vRS range

Somewhat unusually these days there are two performance Octavia Estates, one with a petrol and one with a diesel engine.

We'll deal with the latter first because if you're buying with your head it makes the most sense. Available only with grip-enhancing all-wheel drive, this 185hp and 370Nm motor feels just as strong in normal driving as the more fiery petrol, despite registering a slower 0-62mph time of 6.8 seconds.

2020 Skoda Octavia Estate vRS badge

What it gives away in outright sprinting ability it more than makes up for in strong in-gear acceleration and much lower running costs. It's also a bit easier to live with day-to-day because it pulls hard without having to be revved to high heaven and pulls away with zero wheelspin thanks to that all-wheel drive system.

Octavia vRS 245

For the ultimate Octavia Estate look no further than the petrol powered 2.0-litre TSI with 245hp and 370Nm of torque. It's the most powerful and fastest accelerating, completing the benchmark sprint in 6.8 seconds and going on to 151mph. Buyer beware though - this is also the most expensive to run.

Run-out models are DSG automatic only, but this in itself is no hardship as it's an excellent 'box. While VW and SEAT rivals that use this powertrain like to hold onto low gears for optimum acceleration, the Skoda seems keen to shift up and remain in gear when you press the accelerator hard.

It might sound counter-intuitive but this leads to a much nicer driving experience - the stout 2.0-litre engine doesn't gain much by being run up to the redline and the Octavia pulls strongly enough without requiring peace-shattering noise from under the bonnet. It's a really stealthy way to drive fast.

We ran two forms of this car as long termers - the 245 auto and the 230hp version that came before it. Both were excellent petrolhead family cars, offering loads of room and a comfy ride but with the option to spice up solo drives too.

Handling

  • Comfortable and confident handling
  • vRS models add additional driver enjoyment
  • On the whole ease of use is the priority

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.

2020 Skoda Octavia Estate vRS drive mode selector

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.

Octavia vRS

Fitted with the optional adaptive dampers the vRS features a much tauter chassis than the standard car, meaning it stays more levels and composed in corners.

It rides nicely though, in part due to the fact that even this firmest Octavia still feels a little softer than its VW or SEAT rivals.

This balance is the best bit about the vRS – it sits slightly more on the comfortable side of things than sportier rivals, and while that means it’s not as sharp as a Golf GTI when pushed hard, ask yourself what type of driving you do the majority of the time.

2020 Skoda Octavia Estate vRS driving

A limited slip differential that was once optional for the Octavia vRS does bring with it a much more dependable front end. Without it the car would wash wide in corners, sometimes unpredictably in the wet, while this model allows you to turn in to corners at much higher speeds.