The fact that taxi drivers across the country love the Skoda Octavia with its roomy interior and luggage space speaks volumes, literally, for the car and the model.
With over 1,700 litres maximum behind the two front seats and up to 640 litres four up it is a serious family car without being as big as an MPV.
You are spoiled for choice with the Skoda Octavia. The range comprises about 40 hatchback or estate models between £16,000 and £30,000 in eight trim levels.
Engines range from the frugal 110ps to lively 230ps with manual and automatic transmissions and diesel or petrol fuelled.
Just announced are improved connectivity and infotainment systems with 9.2-inch displays for 2017 model year cars. There are new interior enhancements and upholstery with improved comfort and convenience features as well.
Our test model is one of the best sellers with its intelligent, economical and lively 1.4 litre engine pushing out 150ps to give it a good, though not exceptional performance, and economy nudging 50mpg overall.
The little engine’s smoothness belays its capacity and it only becomes busy at higher revs in lower gears or when heavily laden and asked to overtake. The bald figure maximum is good, but in truth it struggles at the upper end of its range.
But few if any drivers would go that quickly and for most of the time it will keep up with traffic in towns and has enough pulling power to safely overtake when you’re in the right gear.
Getting into gear is easy with its light clutch and very slick change action through the neat gate, the ratios are well matched to the engine output and you may wonder how it does so well on so little fuel.
The Octavia’s progressive power steering imparts useful feedback and the turning circle is good though not exceptionally tight for city street parking.
I liked the power and progressive feel of the brakes underfoot and the handbrake although set for left hand drive was fairly easy to reach and securely held the car on our regular test slope.
Secondary controls came immediately to hand on the wheel-spokes, column stalks or the fascia and the big instruments’ pod was clear and well lit at night with all dials easy to read at a glance. A very good, comprehensive and effective heating and ventilation system filled the big interior and backed up with powered windows all round.
Visibility is a strongpoint of the Octavia Estate with only small blindspots over the shoulder when pulling out or reversing, and far fewer than most MPVs with their thick side pillars and small rear windows.
I liked the big wipers back and front as well as the bright, broad-beamed headlights.
Access is very good throughout, the low boot floor has additional stowage compartments and the rear doors permit longer loads to be moved about without struggling. Room is very good inside, particularly for those in the back, and the front seats have a wide adjustment range for leg and headspace and they are all comfortably shaped to support occupants.
The Skoda Octavia Estate has a distinctly firm ride quality and you sometimes know you have hit a bad patch of road but it’s not too hard or uncomfortable and not soft which means it does not roll or wallow much.
The big estate handles very well thanks to that steering and suspension set up and it stays firmly planted on the road on twisting bits and has no vices to worry about.
It is a capable carryall which is composed when empty, refined and with the incoming new infotainment and connectivity systems it will be more sophisticated.
Skoda UK sales are making a year-on-year gain of about 6% and that’s a decent amount in today’s market. It is easy to understand why it’s a talking point with taxi drivers as well.
|FAST FACTS||Skoda Octavia SE Sport estate|
|Insurance Group: 20E||Price: £21,905 as tested|
|Dimensions: L 4.66m; W 1.82; H 1.47m||Mechanical: 4cyl 150ps 1.4 litre petrol, 6sp|
|Max Speed: 134mph||0-62mph: 8.2sec|
|Fuel consumption: 48mpg||C02 emissions: 119gkm|
|Bik rating: 20%||Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles|
|Kerb weight: 1202kg||Bootspace: 610 to 1740 litres|
For: Very roomy with massive luggage space, excellent seats, economical and smooth despite small engine, refined interior.
Against: Ride on the firm side, lacking in acceleration at higher speed.
© Robin Roberts