WITH the fleet market accounting for so many Octavia sales every year, Skoda has introduced a model specifically aimed at that sector.
The car, now in its fourth generation, is responsible for a quarter of all Skoda sales here in the UK, and is available in hatchback or estate guise with a good selection of engines and trim levels to choose from.
In fact, the Octavia line-up will eventually comprise petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid and hybrid powertrains and, for thrill-seekers out there,the first ever electrified vRS hybrid model will be arriving by the end of the year.
The Czech car maker has brought its all-new gen model bang up to date without spoiling the already winning formula. It's 19mm longer and 15mm wider and the new dimensions help give the car a coupe-like profile.
The traditional grille has got bigger and there are new light clusters with crystal-styled rear lamps. Customers also have a wider selection of alloy wheels to choose from.
Move inside and this is where the latest changes are more apparent with a new digital cockpit, two-spoke steering wheel and lots of extra technology to explore.
Our SE Technology model, aimed at business drivers, was in hatchback body style and was powered by a 1.5-litre 150ps petrol engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.
Costing £22,640 (increased to £23,460 with options) it could sprint from 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds, maxed out at 142mph and could deliver a combined 42.2-50.4mpg with carbon emissions of 127-153g/km.
The five-door Octavia has always been a great car to drive and one that you quickly feel at home with. This all-new fourth generation car is no exception to that rule. With ample seat and steering wheel adjustment, getting the perfect driving position is a doddle, and all controls, dials and readouts are perfectly placed for ease of use.
On twisting B roads it grips the surface like glue and the streamlined design means body sway is virtually non-existent. The acceleration through the gears is nicely responsive with a constant stream of power on tap for overtaking slower moving vehicles.
It's an agile car to drive in busy town centres with light steering to help weave through the crowds and all manner of parking systems to help you squeeze into a tight space.
But, in reality, the place where the Octavia is most at ease is out on the faster-moving motorways where it eats up the miles for fun. It effortlessly cruises at 70mph and in one week alone, I clocked up more than 700 miles but never once tired of driving the car.
Although there are no drive modes, the Octavia certainly delivered a comfortable yet responsive performance and the excellent suspension system helped cushion the ride even on poorer road surfaces.
On-board technology is impressive too with the main focal point being the new 10-inch touchscreen with a neat touch slider along the bottom for quick volume adjustment. Connecting a smartphone is simple via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and there is also a sat nav system, dual zone climate control, DAB radio, wireless Smartlink for Apple CarPlay, plus a 10.25-inch virtual cockpit display that can be personalised according to preference.
I particularly liked the quirky set-up of the climate control system. Instead of the traditional arrows to show the direction of airflow, the driver pushes buttons labelled ‘warm my feet', ‘cool my feet', ‘warm hands', ‘defog windows' and the like.
Comfort levels for occupants are high with ample room for a couple of adults in the back or three at a push. And the boot can swallow 600 litres of kit on the hatchback model which is increased to 1,555 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. The estate model does offer increased storage limits.
There are the usual convenient storage options scattered throughout the car, but special mention to themobile phone holders in the back of the front seats - another Simply Clever idea from Skoda.