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Skoda Octavia Hatchback engines, drive and performance

2004 - 2012 (change model)
Performance rating: 4 out of 54.0

Written by David Ross Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 6 June 2019

There’s a wide range of engines available and the Skoda Octavia’s performance ranges from economy to hot hatch. The entry level engine is a 1.4-litre engine with 80bhp but this feels underpowered in anything other than town driving and struggles with a full load. The new for 2010 1.2-litre petrol engine offering 105bhp is a better bet for the extra performance it offers, while still returning 50mpg economy.

Also worth considering is the 1.6 FSI which has 115bhp and provides smooth acceleration along with decent economy of 43mpg. Be aware that there was also a normal 1.6-litre petrol available for a short period in 2005 (only in Classic trim). It’s slower and not as economical as the FSI version, although it was available with an automatic gearbox. Our pick of the engine range, however, is the 1.8 TSI with 160bhp which is a fantastic powerplant.

Don’t mistake it for the turbocharged and supercharged engines in the Volkswagen range (that are confusingly also badged TSI) as this only uses a single turbo but it performs superbly with a 0-62mph time of 7.8 seconds while economy is a respectable 40mpg. The free-revving engine is smooth and delivers its power predictably, offering plenty of mid-range punch for overtaking.

There’s also a 150bhp 2.0 FSI engine which is refined and smooth, but seems superfluous given how good the 1.8 TSI is. The diesel line-up includes the faithful 105bhp 1.9-litre TDI which is used across Volkswagen, Skoda and SEAT cars and a newer 2.0 TDI with 140bhp. Neither is very refined or quiet but they do offer strong, punchy performance and superb economy – the 1.9 TDI returns 58mpg.

The Greenline model uses a common rail 1.6-litre TDI engine which is smoother and quieter. Thanks to engine and aerodynamic changes it emits an impressively low CO2 figure of 114g/km – making it cheap to tax – and returns 64mpg. From January 2010 this engine was offered with the seven-speed DSG semi-automatic gearbox, offering CO2 emissions of 123g/km.

A more recent economy version, called the Greenline II, is also available. It has a 1.6-litre diesel engine, with a manual gearbox, but emissions have fallen to 99g/km of CO2 – while average economy has improved to a claimed 74mpg.

Thanks to the fact it uses the Volkswagen Golf’s platform, it handles well. A soft suspension set-up means that the Skoda Octavia’s comfort is excellent and it soaks up uneven surfaces well – but this doesn’t come at the expense of handling. Even when pushed hard into bends the Octavia remains composed and body roll is kept well in check while grip levels are high.

Well-weighted steering with good feedback adds to the quality feel and the brakes are strong too while all the controls such as the clutch and gear change have a slick, purposeful feel to them. Greenline models benefit from slightly lower and firmer suspension, resulting in marginally less body roll than the standard cars.