03/05/2013 12:45 | By Tim Pollard, managing editor, MSN Cars

Skoda Octavia Estate review (2013 onwards)

We test the new Skoda Octavia wagon. Contender for Britain's best estate car?

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Skoda Octavia Estate: summary

The highly practical, space-boasting Octavia wagon is back: it's the third-generation Octavia estate and Skoda says it's bigger and more practical than ever

What: Skoda Octavia Estate 1.6 TDI
Where: Austria
Date: May 2013
Price: From £16,790
Available: 21 June 2013
Key rivals: Ford Mondeo estate, Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer, VW Golf Estate, Hyundai i40 Tourer

Skoda Octavia Estate: the MSN Cars review (© Skoda)

Skoda Octavia Estate: first impressions

It's hard to clap your eyes on the new Skoda Octavia Estate for the first time and not be blown away by the sheer space on offer. The 2013 Octavia wagon has been stretched on the rack: it's 90mm longer and 45mm wider than its predecessor. The crisp, neat design masks the bulk well, but make no mistake - the new third-generation Octavia wagon has become one of the biggest cars in its class.

The benefit to you? The Octavia Estate's boot is now gargantuan, where previously it was merely enormous. Skoda claims it's the biggest in class and you can drop 610 litres of clobber in the big, squared-off boot. Collapse the seats, and that rises to a monstrous 1,740 litres. You won't find a bigger estate car for the money.

You won't find a bigger estate car for the money

The sheer size on offer will win over many fans in the showroom. And the Octavia Estate is temptingly priced, too. Prices start at £16,790 for the base 1.2 TSI petrol model, while the cheapest 1.6 TDI diesel costs from £18,840.

We drove both these entry-level models, although you can choose a more powerful 1.4 TSI petrol model or larger 2.0-litre diesel if you want more poke. Add in the option of four-wheel drive on the two TDI models, the availability of Volkswagen's DSG twin-clutch automatic and you can quickly send prices north of £24,000 - eroding the value proposition slightly.

MSN Cars will publish a separate review of the new Octavia 4x4. Here we focus on the most popular models: the regular estates which will capture the majority of UK sales. Read on for our Skoda Octavia review.

Skoda Octavia Estate: performance

The good news is that many buyers will be perfectly happy with the entry-level models' performance. The 1.2 TSI responds sweetly and is admirably hushed throughout its rev range. It's still surprising how such a large car can be powered by a minuscule 1197cc four-cylinder engine, but through the wonders of modern turbocharging it rarely feels underpowered.

However, point the 1.2 uphill and that heft eventually rears its ugly head. Even without any kids onboard or a boot full of luggage, the Octavia 1.2 feels breathless, its 105hp and 129lb ft of pulling power underwhelming.

Step into the lower-powered diesel option, the 1.6 TDI, and this problem disappears. Skoda expects this engine to be the best-seller, and we can see why. With an identical 105hp but a more fulsome 184lb ft on tap, it pulls more strongly. If you can afford it and will frequently carry heavier loads of bodies or bags, the bigger 2.0-litre TDI with 150hp and 236lb ft is the engine of choice.

Each engine is refined, the 1.2 TSI impressively so for such a hard-working, smaller petrol engine. A mix of five- and six-speed manual transmissions are offered, depending on engine variants, and each operates with a typically slick VW precision.

Skoda Octavia estate: one of the best wagons on sale, we think (© Skoda)

Skoda Octavia Estate: ride and handling

The Octavia has always been pitched firmly as a family favourite, and that focus hasn't changed one jot here in the third generation. The estate rides comfortably in every guise we tried, smoothing over ruts and bumps on the admittedly well maintained Austrian roads of our test route.

It's not a totally serene magic carpet ride, however, the 17in wheels fitted to our test cars causing a few jiggles to wobble into the cabin when you drive over a particularly broken stretch of tarmac. Entry-level S and SE models come with 16-inch alloy wheels as standard in the UK and we suspect they will be the preferred option for those prioritising ride comfort over posing (however, no cars were thus equipped on the media launch).

Keen drivers may prefer the ultimately more feelsome steering of a Mondeo Estate, but the Octavia is very well judged for its target audience. Yes, you can throw it into a corner should you need to, but this car is not about razor-sharp handling. Wait for the Octavia vRS sports variant planned for a world premiere at the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed if hot hatchery is your thing.

The interior of the new 2013 Skoda Octavia Estate (© Skoda)

Skoda Octavia Estate: interior

The Octavia Estate's trump card is its interior practicality. We struggle to think of any cars with more litres for your lolly. The cabin is vast front and rear - you'll easily carry four large adults in utter comfort, and the rear leg- and headroom is exceptional. We wonder who'd need to trade up to the cavernous Skoda Superb when the supposedly smaller Octavia is this roomy.

And the bootspace is, frankly, brilliant. The tailgate can be automated (don't bother with this gimmick) and the bootlid opens to reveal a deeper and wider luggage bay which will swallow any manner of family detritus. You can now flop the rear seats down individually at the tug of a lever in the boot, increasing that already generous 610-litre space into a van-like 1,740-litre cavern. Cleverly, you can also lower the front passenger seat so it's flat - freeing up space for a 2,920mm long object. Perfect for transporting mountain bikes. Or scarecrows.

It's so big, we wonder who'd need to trade up to the cavernous Skoda Superb

The seats are comfy enough in the new Octavia Estate and the driving position is spot-on. This car is based on the same hardware as the new VW Golf Mk7, so you get an abundance of clever new technology and toys to play with. The dashboard is logical and well ordered, as you'd expect in a Skoda, and the iPad-style swiping on the standard touchscreen is a joy to use, flipping between navigation, audio and trip computer options.

Who'd have thought a humble Skoda could bring toys aplenty? The new Octavia delivers finger-pleasing gadgets in spades. The new proximity sensor on the central touchscreen alone will have you playing for hours, marvelling every time a hovering finger is detected an inch away to bring up sub-menus. It's damn clever stuff.

Skoda Octavia's party trick: the massive 610-litre boot (© Skoda)

Skoda Octavia Estate: economy and safety

The Czechs claim the new Octavia is up to 14% more economical than the model it replaces. This is enabled by a design which is marginally lighter than the old Octavia's, despite its modest growth spurt, and by the suite of new direct-injection petrol and diesel engines. Stop-start and other fuel-saving tech is standard, while a Greenline eco special is coming later in 2013 - with a frankly miraculous-sounding 87g/km of CO2.

Until then, you'll have to put up with CO2 emissions from just 99g/km on the 1.6 TDI. That's low enough to qualify for tax breaks - an extraordinary feat for such a big, lumbering estate car. The cheapest diesel is claimed to travel an average of 74.3 miles per gallon of fuel gobbled. The entry-level petrol car, the 1.2, manages 57.7mpg and 114g/km of CO2 - and we averaged 48.7mpg on a two-hour blast across motorway and A-roads.

Gone are the days of Skodas being the poor relation of the VW family. The new Octavia benefits from all the latest gadgets available on the Golf's MQB platform: seven airbags are standard, as are stability control to quell any skids and a new function called Post Collision Braking, which applies the anchors after a smash to stop the car spinning into incoming traffic. Higher up the Octavia range are niceties such as drowsiness detectors and an accident preparation system, which tugs the seatbelts and closes the windows if a collision is considered imminent. This is a very safe car.


Skoda Octavia Estate review verdict: four stars

The Skoda Octavia Estate is our sort of car: unpretentious, clever, great value and hugely practical. The second-generation model was an in-between size, halfway between a Focus and a Mondeo. Now the new Skoda Rapid has filled that hole, the third-gen Octavia has grown a bit, but remains smaller than the Mondeo/Passat/Insignia estate brigade. On purely practical terms, it monsters the competition. Your heart may still desire a swisher badge, but the barriers of entry to the Skoda club are dwindling with every new model that comes along.

Skoda Octavia Estate specs (2013 onwards)

MSN Cars' spec of the new Skoda Octavia Estate 2013 onwards

















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