Parkers overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 4.3
  • A genuine five-seater hatchback
  • Boot is one of the biggest for your money
  • Seats and ride are impressively comfortable

Skoda has completely reinvented the Octavia's interior – it's here where the biggest steps forward over the older model have taken place. The dashboard has undergone a huge transformation and looks and feels a whole lot classier.

It borrows heavily from the Volkswagen Golf and there are some shared components, but manages to look very different. The simple look, which Skoda calls a ‘multi-level’ design, somehow comes across as more appealing – especially when it comes to the tasteful use of chrome and suede to dress up some of the surfaces.

Full digital dials (below) and a large central screen (up to 10.0 inches in size) are present and correct with an updated operating system compared with the outgoing car, including a row of buttons beneath the screen for shortcuts. It's primarily a touchscreen system, though, which means you'll struggle to input changes on the move, and will be forever wiping fingerprints off it.

You can use the screen to change the temperature of the climate control and operate the optional panoramic sunroof, albeit with a different type of swipe for each. This might take a bit of getting used to, especially if you're unfamiliar with touchscreens or find using them on the go distracting.

There is a touch-sensitive bar beneath the screen for the volume control and other functions. It's similar to the system used in the Volkswagen Golf, and it can be quite successful in use once you're used to it. But some settings require you to now work deeper into the submenus, and while driving this can be a bit of a distraction.

Other changes include a new two-spoke steering wheel with plenty of buttons, and a rocker switch to shift gears instead of the traditional gearlever for automatic models. There are big improvements in quality, with plenty of ambient lighting and different materials used.

We just wish the face vents for the air conditioning system were positioned higher – as getting them to cool you correctly in hot weather can be a touch hit and miss.

Skoda Octavia comfort

  • Very comfortable on long journeys
  • More wind and road noise than a Golf
  • Ride is impressively cushioned on rough roads

Long-distance driving comfort is where the Octavia really excels. The roomy interior, excellent driving position and low overall noise levels make this the perfect car in which to reel off a 500-mile day of driving. We've only tried the 2.0 TDI version in this situation so far, and it passes with flying colours, although the supremely quiet Golf just pips it with lower overall wind and road noise levels.

Front-seat comfort is particularly impressive. The Octavia has been improved with new seats similar to the ErgoComfort ones you’ll find in the Volkswagen Passat range. A higher degree of adjustability with electric lumbar support and massage function is available as an option in a variety of fabrics and materials depending on the model you opt for.

Those in the rear are also very well catered for, with ample legroom, well-sculpted rear seats, and plenty of storage space in the form of large door pockets and a lidded rear armrest. In short, this feels more like an executive car than a mainstream family hatchback.