A NEW Skoda Octavia has been revealed and it looks the best yet in a 60 year history that has made the name the Czech car maker's top seller.
Since the first Octavia hit the scene back in 1959 some 6.5 million have been sold and the car alone accounts for a sizeable chunk of the Czech Republic's gross domestic product of which Skoda as a brand now contributes some 10 per cent.
The new Octavia was unveiled at a star-studded event held at the Trade Fair Palace in the heart of the Czech capital Prague.
Bigger than before - it's almost inch longer in estate form - the new Octavia has retained all its looks while Skoda has fitted it with state of the art technology including its first ever head-up display system and a shift-by-wire system.
Other features include the introduction of mild-hybrid powertrains, a digital cockpit and a full set of safety features such as collision avoidance systems and an exit warning device that warns of oncoming traffic.
Bernhard Maier, Skoda's chief executive, said at the launch in front of a VIP audience including Czech premier Andrej Babis: "For Skoda the Octavia is of immense importance. That's why we've completely redeveloped this car.
"The outcome is the best Octavia of all time - it is even more spacious, practical and even safer than ever before. By unveiling its latest generation just in time for its 60 anniversary, we have taken a major step forward."
Boot and interior space has always been a strong point of the Octavia's appeal and the newcomer is not only roomier inside its cargo capacity is now 600 litres for the hatch and 640 litres for the estate - the biggest in this class of car.
It will be on the road next year and although prices have still to be announced they can be expected to be slighlty more than the current model which starts from just over £18,000.
A full array of powertrains will be available with mild-hybrid petrols joining conventional petrol and diesel engines while a plug-in hybrid is also due to join the line up.
That version will use a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine and an electric motor to create up to 204ps with a zero emission range of some 35 miles.
While the new model looks familiar it comes with a revised nose incorporating a larger grille, LED headlights and at the rear there is a boot-lip spoiler to add a finishing touch.
The greatest changes are on the inside where the cabin has undergone major revisions with a new-look two-spoke steering wheel, a display screen in the centre of the dash and a flowing line across the facia.
An electronic parking brake is standard while on models fitted with dual clutch automatic transmissions use an electrically operated shift pattern which negates the need for a conventional gear lever.
Versions fitted with a Virtual Cockpit have a 10.25-inch wide instrument panel while all models are fully smartphone compatible. A choice of infotainment systems is also being offered by Skoda with screens up to 10-inches wide offering high definition displays.
The latest Octavia is the fourth generation model and like its predecessors will also feature several of Skoda's now trademark Simply Clever devices such as an umbrella in the passenger compartment, an ice scraper behind the fuel filler cap while new takes include a refill pipe for the AdBlue tank on diesel variants and a ‘sleep package' with larger head rests and a blanket for rear passengers on the estate variant.
In the UK, the new Octavia is slated for release later in 2020 and will be arriving in both estate and hatch bodystyles while more potent vRS variants are in the pipeline and will be introduced later.