IT has been said that Skoda cars are now becoming so good and desirable they may be posing something of a threat to other marques in the massive VW Group including VW and Audi and the new Octavia is a perfect example of just why skoda has achieved record UK sales writes Bryan Longworth.
The previous second generation Octavia was the best selling Skoda and the new model which is larger and looks like a saloon but is still a hatchback is even more formidable although its market position has slightly changed since the launch of the smaller Rapid hatchback.
The new Octavia has elegant styling with a quality interior plus a huge boot which make it such an impressive car that one can understand why there is talk about certain Skoda models now taking sales from other companies in the VW Group empire - dare I say it but the new Octavia is now as stylish as an Audi!
I mention this after testing the Octavia 1.6 TDI CR SE with the 1.6-litre diesel engine which cost £19,240 - prices start at £15,990 - and that has additional standard equipment to the value of £3,890 over the previous Octavia SE.
Another bonus for this particular model is that with the CO2 emissions being 99g/km there is no road tax to pay and it is also very frugal with a combined fuel consumption of 74.5mpg that is actually in the upper 50s according to the trip computer which is still very economical.
Other statistics for the test car which had a five speed manual gearbox were a top speed of 121mph, a zero to 62mpg time of 10.4 seconds that together show it is a very good all round performer.
Standard kit on the car included 16 inch alloy wheels, touch screen infotainment system, automatic post collision braking system, DAB digital radio, driver fatigue sensor, energy recovery, stop/start engine system with a space saver spare wheel being a £75 option.
The latest Octavia has considerable on the road presence because of its rather elegant styling and I can well understand those who say that this Skoda is now up there with the likes of the VWs and Audis because it also has a quality interior including switchgear and instrumentation - the computer and information centre have also been improved with more functions and are much easier to see and understand.
The 1.6-litre diesel engine was smooth and quiet unlike the power unit in a recent test car from the Far East and I liked the well weighted steering and handling with a five speed manual gearbox providing smooth changes that together provided an enjoyable test period.
I like the clever way the Octavia designers have disguised the car making it look like a saloon but with that huge load area under the rear hatchback which provides a class leading 590 litres of luggage space that increases to 1,580 litres with the rear seats folded.
Mentioning the large hatchback brings me to my only reservation about the car because it rises so high and is so heavy that smaller owners could find difficulty closing it especially females and an automatic hatch opening and closing system would be very useful.
The latest Octavia is proof that the style, quality and image of Skoda cars is now just as good as some of the so called more illustrious members of the VW group who deserve praise for acquiring and making a success of the motor company from the Czech Republic which used to make some of the best cars in the world before World War 2 prior to the communist regime making a mess of it after the war.
My Verdict: An outstanding Octavia.
Model: New Skoda Octavia 1.6 TDI SE.
Engine: 1.6-litre diesel.
Transmission: Five speed manual.
Top speed: 121mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 10.4 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 74.3mpg combined.
CO2 emissions: 99g/km.