Parkers overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 4.3
  • Sober looks inside, but excellent quality
  • Large touchscreen standard on all models
  • Easy to get comfortable

How is the quality and layout?

The Octavia’s dashboard has some shared components with the Volkswagen Golf, but it 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.

There’s a two-spoke steering wheel with plenty of buttons and odd-feeling rotary scroll controllers, which controls most of the functions you need in daily driving. There’s also a rocker switch to select gears instead of the traditional gearlever for automatic models, which frees up space for cubbyholes.

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. Quality is otherwise excellent, with plenty of ambient lighting and different materials used, and a more welcome ambiance than a Golf or SEAT Leon.

Infotainment and tech

Full digital dials and a large 10.0-inch central touchscreen come as standard on most models, with an up-to-date operating system. As a driver, you’ll struggle to input changes on the move, and will be forever wiping fingerprints off it, but the Octavia has two advantages over the Golf and SEAT Leon. vRS digital dashboard looks more complex as it offers a wide range of displays a central speedometer and a full-width rev counter across the top of the screen.

Also controlling the infotainment screen is the row of buttons running along the bottom of the screen. There’s a second, which is positioned just above the centre air vents and controls the air conditioning. This makes the Octavia much more user friendly than both SEAT and Volkswagen, but it’s a shame the buttons themselves feel hollow and cheap. At least the sweeping dashboard trim beneath the touchscreen acts as a ledge for your hand to rest on when using it on the move.

There is a touch-sensitive bar beneath the screen for the volume control, which again, can be quite tricky for the driver to use – you can tap or swipe it to adjust, but the latter move tends to risk deafening every occupant, so it’s best reserved for the front passenger to use. Besides, this only encourages the driver to stick to the tactile, steering wheel controls instead.

Comfort

  • Ample leg and headroom front and rear
  • Front seats are very supportive
  • Good visibility and a bright, airy interior

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.

The vRS’s heated, front cloth seats feel a little flat at first but prove to be as comfortable as ever with plenty of adjustment to find your desired driving position. Taller drivers might feel as though they’re perched a little too high compared with some other performance hatchbacks, but this sensation is also due to the low-topped dash – it’s hardly a complaint, though, as this helps give you a good view ahead.

Those in the rear are also very well catered for, with ample legroom, well-sculpted rear seats, and a lidded rear armrest. In short, this feels more like an executive car than a mainstream family hatchback. The standard sound system is clear, but puts out very little bass, so the Canton system might be a worthy upgrade if you want a bit of punch to go with your music.