Parkers overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 4.3
  • Petrol, diesel, mild-hybrid and PHEV
  • Performance vRS options to follow
  • Something for everyone, really

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

From launch you can choose from a 1.5 TSI petrol with 150hp and a 2.0 TDI diesel with 115hp - both sporting a six-speed manual gearbox. Top spec cars can have 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.

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.

Petrol power

The 1.5-litre petrol with a six-speed manual gearbox is reassuringly quiet - a sign of good quality soundproofing - and remains so until right at the top of its rev range.

It’s less responsive at low engine speeds than the equivalent diesel, 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.

Diesel still a strong option

Drivers who do particularly high mileage or plan to load the vast boot up to max capacity will prefer a muscular diesel. A little noisier than the petrol (though not by much) with a metallic edge to its sound that disappears once you’re on the move.

Two 2.0-litre TDI units make up the diesel offering, with 116hp or 150hp, available with manual or DSG transmissions. The 150hp unit is also available with all-wheel drive.

We think the 150hp, two-wheel drive car is the best version currently available, with plenty of easy-to-access torque and bulletproof fuel economy on offer. It’s more than fast enough for most needs with the car empty, hinting at sufficient performance even when it’s loaded up.

Plug-in hybrid option

Finally, a PHEV 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.

Octavia vRS available soon

As with the models before it a high performance version of the Octavia called vRS will be on sale soon, with petrol and diesel options and a new plug-in hybrid.

Both the petrol and the PHEV have 245hp, while the TDI now packs 200hp for punchier performance. You can also choose all-wheel drive on this version, like before.

Handling

  • Confidence inspiring grip this time
  • Standard car still a bit rolly-polly
  • Ideal for conveying people and things

This is one area where previous Octavia owners will notice an improvement almost instantly – this generation of car just feels more confident and grippy, especially when equipped with the optional adaptive dampers.

The steering feels more precise - although just as uncommunicative as before - allowing you to accurately place the car on the road.

You do still get quite a bit of bodyroll (when the car leans one way or another in a corner) and reality it’s this, rather than the high level of grip the tyres summon up, that limits your ability to drive quickly.

That said, there’s noticeably less wheelspin when you pull away quickly than we remember, and the sophisticated traction control system allows you to drive quickly without interfering too harshly.

When all’s said and done though it's worth considering that this is a car likely to be packed full with either passengers or stuff in the boot and from that respect the handling is entirely fit for purpose.

We’re excited about the vRS, though.