Parkers overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 4.3
  • Nicely trimmed, excellent fit and finish
  • Class-leading tech and displays
  • Infotainment not perfect in use

How is the quality and layout?

The cabin of the Skoda Octavia Estate feels comfortably familiar, with much of its tech shared with the Golf Mk8. The driving position is good, and the two-spoke multifunction steering wheel makes using many of the car’s features a piece of cake. On the automatic models, you get a rocker switch on the centre console to select gears instead of a traditional lever, but the best aspects are the big improvements in quality over older models. The Octavia Estate feels modern inside, helped by the tasteful ambient lighting and high-quality materials. The reduced button count compared with the old model has tidied up the cabin, but not necessarily made it easier to use, even if it betters the SEAT Leon or VW Golf.

In terms of plug-in hybrid specific styling touches, the only obvious difference in Octavia iV models is a battery level meter on the left-hand side of the digital cockpit where the coolant temperature used to be. It’s positioned opposite the petrol gauge and gives a clear and instant view of your remaining fuel and charge. There’s not a whole lot to mark out the vRS from the run of the mill options, save for sporty bucket seats and red stitching everywhere. You also get a three-spoke steering wheel that’s a slightly different shape and metal pedals, but otherwise this is a fast estate that doesn’t shout about its potential.

Infotainment and tech

A large central 10-inch touchscreen comes as standard on every model (sat-nav is standard on SE L and vRS models). There’s also a touch-sensitive bar for the volume control and a row of actual physical buttons beneath for shortcuts. This can be very annoying in operation, but compared with the SEAT Leon and VW Golf’s entirely touch sensitive set-up, it could be worse. The climate controls have also migrated to the screen and this might take a bit of getting used to.

On the whole we found the infotainment screen 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. Skoda’s voice control system is just as good as in the VW, though. You can tap the touch-sensitive volume bar to adjust the stereo incrementally, or sweep across for larger adjustments, but we found this tricky to manage – it’s better controlled by a front passenger, leaving the driver to stick with the volume controls on the steering wheel instead.

Comfort

  • Ergonomically comfortable front seats
  • Three-zone climate control available
  • Still a bit of road noise

The Octavia has always offered impressive comfort, and the fourth generation continues this tradition. 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, along with ventilation and heating. However, even the standard chairs are supportive and comfortable.

Three-zone climate control is available as an option, so all passengers can set a temperature they want without affecting others. Some areas that require improvement remain – there’s more road noise than we’d like on the move, with most of it either resonating behind you from the boot, or from the windows.

The engines are otherwise hushed – including the diesels, which only have a hint of clatter when cold and during harder acceleration. The vRS TDI turns below 1,750rpm at motorway speeds, which is great for minimising engine noise and maximising fuel economy. The 1.5 TSI petrol with a six-speed manual gearbox is also reassuringly quiet and remains so until at the top of its rev range.

The ride on the (admittedly bigger-wheeled) cars we’ve tested has been a little firm around town. Thankfully, even the most sporting vRS isn’t jittery or harsh over bumps, but the constant little imperfections that make themselves felt could become annoying on longer journeys. Lower-spec models with smaller wheels and more tyre sidewall are better in this regard, so make sure you arrange a longer test drive to get the lay of the land. Those tempted by the adaptive damping system found with the optional Dynamic Chassis Control system will benefit from the additional Comfort drive mode on offer, as it softens the ride and further isolates the cabin from rougher surfaces.