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First drive: Skoda Octavia Estate 2024MY. Image by Skoda.

First drive: Skoda Octavia Estate 2024MY
Modest changes for the Skoda Octavia Mk4 line-up, which is no bad thing as itís still utterly brilliant.

   



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Skoda Octavia 1.5 TSI 150 Sportline Estate

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

It's midlife facelift time for the fourth-generation Skoda Octavia and a modest programme including discreetly massaged looks and better in-car connectivity shows how confident the Czech company is in its family car proposition. So has Skoda done enough to keep the Octavia challenging near the top of its class, or is this a missed opportunity to move clear of the competition?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2024 Skoda Octavia Estate 1.5 TSI 150 Sportline manual
Price: Octavia 2024MY from £26,775, 1.5 TSI 150 Sportline manual from £33,285 as tested
Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power: 150hp at 5,000-6,000rpm
Torque: 250Nm at 1,500-3,500rpm
Emissions: 127-132g/km
Economy: 48.7-50.4mpg
0-62mph: 8.6 seconds
Top speed: 140mph
Boot space: 640-1,700 litres

Styling

Clearly remembering the furore when it made such a hash of facelifting the poor old Mk3, Skoda has gone gentle on the Mk4 update. But what it has done has worked rather well, if we're honest. Alongside a smattering of new colours and some additional designs of alloy wheels, the chief alteration revolves around the all-LED lamp clusters at both ends of the car. Up front, these are easily identified as the daytime running light (DRL) signatures now sit at the top of the lamp unit, rather than the bottom as they did before, and they're typified by a large, diagonal centre bar which apes the shape of Skoda's corporate octagonal radiator grille, plus it almost bleeds into the frame surrounding said grille. Along with lightly massaged bumpers, these new DRLs give the facelifted Octavia a greater sense of width and presence, and results in what was already a great-looking car looking that little bit greater still.

Interior

Quality and material-wise, there's little to complain about in here. There's a good argument to say the Skoda has the best cabin of any of the four cars in the wider Volkswagen Group which share its underpinnings... and yes, we're including the Audi A3 in that roster. So beyond the general excellence of the ambience and the fascia design, the big news in here is that all updated fourth-gen Octavias now benefit from a large 13-inch freestanding infotainment centre screen, accompanied by the 10.25-inch Virtual Cockpit digital driver's cluster across the board. OK, there's possibly a little too much content routed through the main screen itself - unlike the larger Superb, the facelifted Octavia doesn't gain Smart Dials so its climate functions are all in the infotainment, for instance - but it's fairly simple and pleasant to use, and even if you don't like it then you can bypass it with either Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. Technophiles will also like the news that the Skoda now has a 15-watt wireless smartphone charging pad with a cooling facility for your device to prevent it getting hot while taking in a charge, while ChatGPT AI functionality will be added to the Laura onboard voice assistant later in the year.

Practicality

An area where the Octavia really obliterates its opposition. In-car storage and a selection of Skoda's thoroughly likeable 'Simply Clever' solutions to make everyday life easier are both admirable inclusions to get things off to a great start. Then you find that rear-passenger space is generous almost to a fault in both the Fastback hatch and the Estate, while both body types have huge, class-leading boots. The Fastback measures a gigantic 600 litres with all seats in use, rising to 1,555 litres if you fold the second row away, but this Estate obviously eclipses even those figures with 640-1,700 litres accordingly. About the only way you can get a bigger boot in something vaguely similar in size and price is stepping up to the mammoth Superb Estate instead (690-1,920 litres).

Performance

Skoda has ditched the old 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol TSI that used to represent the basis of the range, and instead has detuned the existing 1.5-litre four-cylinder TSI for a new entry-level model. This means that, if you want a petrol Octavia, then from the launch of the updated line-up you've got a choice of four: pick from either 116hp/220Nm or 150hp/250Nm outputs, and then decide whether you want to stick with the standard six-speed manual transmission or opt for the seven-speed DSG dual-clutch auto. If you do decide to go for the DSG in either output variant of the TSI, Skoda adds mild-hybrid (MHEV) fuel-saving technology to the mix, which it brands 'e-Tec'.

Those still wanting diesel power will be happy to know the 2.0-litre TDI is retained for the facelift, although there's less choice here - and no MHEV/e-Tec assistance either. There's a 116hp/300Nm entry point, which comes only with the six-speed manual, while the more potent 150hp/360Nm engine is paired exclusively to the DSG transmission.

Having sampled a 116hp manual Fastback, a 150hp DSG e-Tec Fastback, a 150hp TDI DSG Estate and then this 150hp TSI e-Tec Estate manual, we're confident in saying there's not a bad engine or gearbox in the lot of them. If it were our choice, we think the best companion of the lot for the Octavia is the most muscular TDI, which easily gave us back 55mpg on a mixed test run and which just had the most effortless midrange of all the cars.

However, here in the UK, if you want this racy-looking Sportline model - a specification revived for the Octavia line as part of the midlife facelift - you have to have the 150hp TSI. So our advice here is 'go for the DSG' if you can. There's nothing wrong with the shift action of the manual, but weirdly there's quite a big torque-hole in the Octavia 1.5 when it doesn't have the assistance of the MHEV gear, so the car can labour quite badly if you are in too high a gear and you need acceleration.

Whereupon you downshift and rev the engine out beyond 4,000rpm, and encounter our main gripe with this 1.5 TSI, which counts for both manual or automatic transmissions. It's noisy, and a bit coarse, as it approaches the redline. Now, obviously, not everyone drives cars like the Octavia by revving them right out in every gear, but you will encounter it from time to time and it's about the only time this drivetrain is anything less than supremely refined.

The DSG, of course, negates much of this by having more ratios, which allows it to stay in its torque band more frequently, and having the e-Tec gear to get rid of the lack of low-speed responsiveness that the manual can occasionally exhibit. However, apart from this, the 1.5 TSI is a smooth and generally quiet (up to 4,000rpm, natch) operator so it's a fine drivetrain for the Skoda, although we'd still say we prefer the TDI...

Incidentally, while there are only these 1.5 TSI and 2.0 TDI choices from the off with the updated Octavia line, more powertrains are on the way - including a
4x4 option on certain engines. However, no word yet as to whether the iV plug-in hybrid will make its return, which would be the powertrain which would most interest fleet purchasers of the Octavia.

Ride & Handling

The Sportline has 15mm-lower Sports suspension fitted as standard, as well as 18-inch alloys as standard, with the option of pumping them up to 19s, and even Progressive Dynamic Steering to try and up the excitement factor. Skoda also offers Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) with its 15 different stages of damping if you want it, but we're here to tell you that DCC is strictly not necessary in the revised Octavia, even on the tougher Sportline.

This is a car with truly sumptuous ride quality. It has a longer wheelbase than most vehicles of this type, which helps it cover off lumps and bumps in the road with a grace and dignity that makes the Octavia feel a class or two above its station in terms of refinement; an idea its super-roomy and high-quality cabin only serves to reinforce. The general comfort of the suspension is helped by great suppression of both tyre and wind noise, and as we've already hinted the Sportline is just as good at this sort of stuff as the models on the softer, taller springs with smaller alloy wheels - which is a most welcome bonus.

In terms of the handling, it's not such a glowing report card, but neither is the Octavia bad in the corners. It is tidy and assured, so you can actually stoke it along a challenging road at a fair old lick and it won't let you down. Of course, it also won't ever thrill you either, not even as the Sportline with its fancy shocks and steering, but then that's not really the remit of the regular line-up of the Octavia - it can leave those sort of antics to the vRS performance model, which is thankfully joining the updated range later in the year with a meatier-than-ever 265hp output. So, overall, the deeply accomplished way the Octavia rides and handles is about spot on for its intended target market.

Value

Skoda will sell the updated Octavia in four specifications, which are SE Technology, SE L, Sportline and then vRS. Even base-spec cars come with 16-inch alloys, LED front and rear lights, heated front seats, the 13-inch touchscreen infotainment system with satnav, the 10.25-inch Virtual Cockpit, the 15-watt smartphone charging pad, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, keyless start/stop, and a plethora of advanced driver assist safety systems too. Prices start at a very reasonable £26,775 for this grade, for a 116hp manual Fastback, although the Estate is a little pricier at £27,755 (+£980).

SE L brings in the leather interior options, including Suite Cognac, as well as luxuries like adaptive cruise, a heated steering wheel and windscreen, and a powered tailgate with Virtual Pedal (kick under the bumper to open, basically), among more. Prices start at £31,250 for a 150hp TSI manual Fastback, with the Estate commanding at least £32,480.

This Sportline spec is at least £32,255 and has gloss-black detailing on the outside, meatier looking lower bodywork, 18-inch alloys, metallic paint as standard, the lowered Sports suspension, and an interior enhanced by fabric and leatherette upholstery. As we've said elsewhere, the only engine option here is the 150hp TSI, so as an Estate it costs £33,285 as a manual like this, or an additional £2,040 if you want to equip it with the DSG and MHEV gear. For a limited time, Skoda will also sell a First Edition stocked with plenty of the most desirable kit, all from £32,975, but that won't be around forever so move fast if you want it.

Fuel economy across the range is very decent and, having tried most of them on roads, we know the petrols will give back anything from 45-50mpg without too much effort. The TDI's even better of course, capable of 55mpg and more, but thanks to the impressive fuel consumption and reasonably low CO2 outputs, no updated Octavia Mk4 should break the bank to run.

Verdict

Little has changed for the fourth-gen Skoda Octavia as part of its facelift, but then little needed to. We think this is the class-leading contrivance, all things considered, as its undoubted practicality and value-for-money nature is only augmented by a deeply polished, highly satisfying driving experience. Those wanting a little more excitement behind the wheel might wish to hold on for the impending vRS version, but for everyone else you're simply not going to get a better all-round, modern-day family car than this big Skoda wagon. It's an absolute belter.



Matt Robinson - 24 May 2024



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2024 Skoda Octavia 1.5 TSI 150 Sportline Estate. Image by Skoda.2024 Skoda Octavia 1.5 TSI 150 Sportline Estate. Image by Skoda.2024 Skoda Octavia 1.5 TSI 150 Sportline Estate. Image by Skoda.2024 Skoda Octavia 1.5 TSI 150 Sportline Estate. Image by Skoda.2024 Skoda Octavia 1.5 TSI 150 Sportline Estate. Image by Skoda.

2024 Skoda Octavia 1.5 TSI 150 Sportline Estate. Image by Skoda.2024 Skoda Octavia 1.5 TSI 150 Sportline Estate. Image by Skoda.2024 Skoda Octavia 1.5 TSI 150 Sportline Estate. Image by Skoda.2024 Skoda Octavia 1.5 TSI 150 Sportline Estate. Image by Skoda.2024 Skoda Octavia 1.5 TSI 150 Sportline Estate. Image by Skoda.








 

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