Skoda goes up an octave

Skoda Octavia
Skoda Octavia
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Is sensible enough? Probably not. If you want a purely functional vehicle, there are many cheaper than Skoda’s third generation Octavia.

If, on the other hand, you want good common sense mixed with a warm feel-good factor that reminds you how wise your purchase was, Skoda’s now Mondeo-sized and much-improved mid-ranger could be just the ticket.

The Octavia’s engine line-up will look like familiar fare to anyone who, maybe not realising the increase in size of this third generation design, is maybe considering a slightly smaller Volkswagen Golf or a SEAT Leon as an alternative purchase. Four turbocharged powerplants are offered; 105PS 1.2, 140PS 1.4 and 180PS 1.8-litre petrols and 105PS 1.6 and 150PS 2.0-litre diesels. A Greenline version of the 1.6 TDI diesel that emits just 89g/km of CO2 is also available. Four wheel drive has also been developed for this car, along with a vRS sports model and a Scout version of the estate with additional body cladding and raised ride height.

Like the rest of its sibling vehicles in the Volkswagen empire, this Octavia rides on the modular MQB chassis, which means that it’ll ride well, handle competently and won’t cost the earth to develop. That’s a major difference between this car and the less sophisticated family hatch-sized Rapid model that sits just below it in the Skoda line-up.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the Octavia has grown, and by quite some amount, now properly big enough to prospect amongst families you might have been considering Mondeos, Insignia and Passats.

This third generation model is 90mm longer and 45mm wider than the second-generation Octavia. At the same time, the wheelbase has grown by 108mm, mainly benefiting the interior and space on the rear seats. This means the Octavia is now almost as long as a Ford Mondeo and there’s genuinely impressive rear seat space – enough for a six-footer in the back to be comfortable behind one in the front.

This third generation Skoda Octavia shifts the buyer proposition subtly but decisively. It’s no longer something that goes head to head with most family hatchbacks. It’s grown out of that class and is now looking for bigger rivals to challenge. Cars like the Peugeot 508, the Ford Mondeo and the Vauxhall Insignia will all be fair game. These models have all seen the big threats to their market share come from the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes and have in response become more expensive and better finished, leaving a huge hole in the market into which the hefty Octavia can now reside.