Octavia is a chart

topper

Skoda Octavia, 2017, front, action
Skoda Octavia, 2017, rear, action
Skoda Octavia, 2017, interior
Skoda Octavia, 2017, boot
Skoda Octavia, 2017, front

HOWdo you improve on something that is already at the top of the market?

That must have been in the Skoda designers' minds when they set about revitalising and renewing the company's mainstay Octavia two or three years ago.

The third generation Octavia's superb interior space and massive boot already had it up in the large family car class - something which none of its contemporaries could claim.

But the designers and engineers have still managed to produce a shape that is slightly longer and wider for the fourth generation, to give even more people room and a bigger boot.

Obviously, like every other new car on the market, connectivity is the buzzword and, again, the new model comes with the latest phone pairing software, DAB radio, Bluetooth, a digital binnacle and large touchscreen for sat nav and many other functions.

The new interior combines all the space with high-quality materials and clever details like an umbrella under the seat.

And the new assistance systems raise comfort and safety to an even higher level.

There's a new front apron and narrower, sharper LED headlights and tail lights. Inside, there are new back friendly seats, a digital binnacle and very good new tactile minor controls.

This is all very well - but its stuff that you can find out for yourself if this is a car that could suit your purpose - but as is my wont, I would rather write about the way it drives.

I recently had a fantastic time with the smooth and powerful 1.5 TSi SE L turbo petrol and watched it leave with huge regret.

This is most certainly a car that would make ideal transport for the vast majority of families and one that I could happily live with for the rest of my days.

This 1.5-litre engine is an absolute beauty, pulling well from low revs even up hill in higher gears.

It's refined and quiet except for a slight thrum at very low revs in sixthand fifth gears and it loves to be revved.

There is huge acceleration in second, third and fourthgears just where it's usually needed out on the open road, and is always willing and perky.

There is a slight delay at up to 1,800 revs if you look for hard acceleration, but once the turbo is spinning it reels in the horizon like a fish on a line.

Yet, driven carefully, the same 41mpg economy I managed to achieve, without trying too hard, should be possible for anyone.

The six-speed gearchange is a gem, the clutch is light and easy and, in fact, the whole car is a delight to drive.

Excellent suspension takes almost every road surface in its stride, helped by those new , comfortable front seats.

Grip is superb even on wet roads and the road holding is sublime, helped by the tactile and informative VW group steering that is still the one to beat.

SE L trim has a wide range of kit, from the sat nav and DAB radio already mentioned, to stability control, autonomous emergency braking and leather and suede upholstery.

It also has auto start stop, keyless entry, leather covered multi-function steering wheel,rear parking sensors, cruise, a driver fatigue sensor, climate, kerb lights in the door mirrors and a limited slip differential to help get the power down onto the road without wheelspin.

FAST FACTS

Price: £23,140

Mechanical: 150bhp, 1,498cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed:139mph

0-62mph: 8.3 seconds

Combined MPG: 56.5

Insurance Group: 20

C02 emissions: 115g/km

Bik rating:27%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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