Skoda Octavia SE L

1.4 TSI

Skoda Octavia, 2017, front, action
Skoda Octavia, 2017, front
Skoda Octavia, 2017, rear, action
Skoda Octavia, 2017, interior
Skoda Octavia, 2017, dashboard
Skoda Octavia, 2017, display screen
Skoda Octavia, 2017, boot

THE Skoda Octavia is a car that's hard not to like and it's no surprise it is Skoda's most popular vehicle in the UK.

As an all-rounder it really does take some beating, ticks most of the important boxes and has few if any shortcomings.

This year the current incarnation underwent a mid-life makeover that has further strengthened the Octavia's position in a congested and competitive marketplace.

Skoda's understated exterior styling means the latest generation Octavia has aged well since its launch four years ago.

While the basic design blueprint of the car is unaltered there are a raft of subtle but effective exterior modifications that give it fresh appeal.

There's a new and slightly more eye-catching grille and new headlamps which do quite a bit to alter the nose of the vehicle.

The headlamps are vertically split and now have four lenses and there's an LED option too.

Other changes include a bit of added width in the shape of a wider front apron and wider rear haunches.

Further additions include new chrome trim, new fog lights, revised rear deflectors and a reshaped rear bumper.

As is often the case these days as manufacturers endeavour to keep pace with the latest technological developments, some of the biggest changes are on the inside.

The Octavia's makeover really does give it a distinctly upmarket feel.

Build quality (never an issue to be fair) seems to be rock solid and close scrutiny of switches and dials reveals no evidence of corner-cutting whatsoever and the overall character is premium all the way.

Soft-touch materials abound and the new infotainment display is both striking to look at and beautifully simple to use.

Prices across the range may have increased slightly but all Octavias now have alloy wheels, LED tail lights and an electronic differential.

Safety has also been upped a notch with an advanced pedestrian detection system which will apply emergency braking if required and a post collision stopping device.

Engine-wise the range benefits from a new entry-level 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine which is a hugely impressive performer.

Many of the Octavia's great strengths persist in terms of space and practicality.

It's always offered a kind of halfway house between Volkswagen Group stablemates like the Golf and the Passat.

It is amazingly spacious, with rear seat passengers given not only the chance to sit in comfort but to stretch their legs if they so desire.

Then there's the boot space, which at 590 litres is truly cavernous. You get hatchback versatility too and with the seats folded down it offers 1,580 litres of space.

The range starts at £17,195, which for a car that really does offer so much, is exceptionally good value for money.

And even a basic version comes with an abundance of kit as standard, including an eight-inch touchscreen, DAB radio with eight speakers, SmartLink+ to connect to mobile devices via Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink.

If you needed extra reasons to plump for an Octavia Skoda's ‘Simply Clever' features are always a winner, with everything from umbrellas in the front doors or under the passenger seat and an ice scraper inside the fuel filler cap.

Given the current furore over diesels and emissions generally the range's small but immensely efficient petrol engines may start to dominate from here on in.

While that three-cylinder 1.0-litre unit is a real revelation the 1.4-litre TSI fitted to this car is nothing less than an absolute delight. Super-smooth and potent it also offers impressive economy.

Handling-wise the Octavia feels better than ever and that is a characteristic that has always been a strength of the model too.

FAST FACTS

Skoda Octavia SE L 1.4 TSI

Price: £21,325

Mechanical: 148bhp, 1,395cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 134mph

0-62mph: 8.1 seconds

Combined MPG: 55.4

Insurance Group: 20

C02 emissions: 118g/km

Bik rating: 23%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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