Skoda Octavia SE L

2.0 TDI

Skoda Octavia, front
Skoda Octavia, side
Skoda Octavia, side
Skoda Octavia, rear
Skoda Octavia Estate Scout, interior

LONG before the first Skoda joke was cracked, the Czech firm scored a notable first - it produced the first family car with reclining seats to be sold in Britain.

That was in the late 1950s when many manufacturers charged extra for a heater and air con was the province only of huge American tanks.

The first version of the Skoda Octavia, which was made between 1959 and 1971, established itself as a high value family range with solid but old-school engineering.

Fast-forward almost half a century and the current car still represents a real bargain, but with the VW Group parts bin at its disposal, there's nothing antiquated about its engineering or design.

One of the most popular models - both for fleet and private buyers - is the Octavia 2.0 TDI hatch with acres of cabin and boot space, a fair turn of pace and pound-stretching economy.

With a price tag of more than £22,000 for the SE L version, it may not appear such a snip, but there's little to match the blend of space, performance and reliability.

Measured in VW terms, it's nearer the size of a Passat but wears the price tag of a Golf.

Under the bonnet, the established two-litre turbo diesel packs 148bhp which is sufficient to propel the five-seater to 135mph in sixth with a punchy sprint to 62mph in under nine seconds.

The diesel isn't the quietest of engines at low speed but when cruising on the motorway there's barely a murmur.

Pick-up in fourth and fifth is impressive thanks to large reserves of torque, which aids economy as well as providing swift progress.

Most users will attain economy in the high 40s or low 50s - the official fuel consumption is 70.6mpg.

Though not designed or intended as a sporty model, the Octavia is nimble and athletic enough around windy roads.

Ride standard is comfortable but potholes and rutted surfaces can pass on a few jolts to the cabin. The steering is pleasantly light but too numb to woo enthusiastic drivers.

Most people new to the Octavia will be surprised at the available room within the cabin.

Legroom both front and back is exceptionally generous. A middle passenger in the rear, however, must contend with the central tunnel which restricts legroom.

The boot holds a class-leading 590 litres which grows to 1,580 litres when the rear seats are folded. The cargo area is regularly shaped and surprisingly deep considering the sloping profile of the Octavia's body.

The facia and dash may not be quite as stylised and classy as either VW or Audi but the layout is sensible and easy to use.

A clever touch is the reversible boot floor which is rubberised on one side so it can be scrubbed clean after carrying a grubby load - perfect for young families.

FAST FACTS

Skoda Octavia SE L 2.0 TDI

Price: £22,235

Mechanical:148bhp, 1,998cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 135mph

0-62mph: 8.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 70.6

Insurance Group: 21

C02 emissions: 106g/km

Bik rating: 17%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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