Latest report: Skoda Octavia Estate long-term test
14 July 2017
Author: Debbie Wood
|P11D price £23,960|
|As tested £28,685|
|Official consumption 56.5mpg|
2nd report - Simple and clever
Practicality and Skoda go together like bread and butter, Ant and Dec and fish and chips, and big boots, roomy cabins and cubbies to store everything but the kitchen sink are only half the story when it comes to the Octavia Estate.
It's the small innovative touches that really make a difference to drivers on a day-to-day basis. Labelled Simply Clever our long-termer comes with a number of small practical features that, after just under a month with the car, we're not sure why other carmakers haven't followed suit.
One of the key Simply Clever features is the ice scraper in the filler cap. Admittedly, this time of year it's not getting a lot of use, but I'm sure it'll prove invaluable as the weather turns cold. It's made of durable plastic too, not the flimsy kind you usually see on sale at your local garage.
As I mentioned in the previous report, the ticket holder in the windscreen is one of my favourite features - so simple and it probably costs pence to make but it really is a practical feature that I use every time I visit my local supermarket and train station now.
Our Octavia Estate has already been on a couple of long-distance journeys and as well as offering plenty of large storage options to help me house my personal belongings, the new cupholder has added grip to enable you to open a bottle of drink single-handedly. It's a new feature and definitely worthy of mention.
Finally, what girl wouldn't want an umbrella stored under the front passenger seat? I was caught out at a recent meeting and almost completely forgot that our long-termer offered it as a feature - a day I was definitely grateful to be driving the Octavia Estate.
Add to that a cooling glovebox, black roof rails and a variable boot floor, ideal for placing items out of view, and the Octavia Estate has to be the most practical estate car in its class.
Many criticise the Skoda for its boring interior, and while we would agree that it's not the most exciting place to sit, nobody can argue with its practicality credentials.
Our average consumption 52.5mpg
First report: The king of practicality
If ever there was a car that epitomised Skoda's core values the Octavia would be it. It's very much a heartland car for the Czech carmaker and majors on the firm's key pillars of practicality, comfort and value for money.
Sure, it's not the most exciting car in the world, either to look at, drive or sit in, but it's a car that is near impossible to fault because as all-round practical family cars go, the Octavia is up there with the very best. Available as a hatch or an estate, it's the latter we've taken delivery of at BusinessCar headquarters.
This current generation was launched in 2013, and received a mild refresh in March this year. Big changes included the introduction of the VW Group's latest infotainment system, which incorporates new features like wireless phone charging and Wi-Fi, plus a new headlight arrangement, which has received a fair amount of stick from the motoring press.
I'm not going to dwell on this feature, but what I will say is that the headlights have a habit of growing on you the longer you spend with the car.
As there have been no real changes to the dimensions in this latest round of updates, the Octavia Estate's impressive interior space and 610-litre boot remain as good as ever. Fold the rear seats down and this increases to a huge 1,740 litres.
The car is also littered with useful practical features called 'Simply Clever', which include the ticket holder in the windscreen (my favourite feature), the ice scraper in the fuel-filler cap, a bottle holder that enables you to open drinks single-handedly and an umbrella under the passenger front seat - all hugely practical in day-to-day life. The latter in particular could help us ladies be spared a bad hair day when caught out in the rain.
Under the bonnet of our new arrival is a 150hp 1.4-litre petrol engine paired to a seven-speed automatic gearbox - not your usual fleet combination. But with the focus turning back towards petrol following diesel's recent backlash, could this engine now be the powertrain of choice?
We've previously tested the 1.0-litre petrol and came away impressed with its characterful nature and low running costs. This 1.4-litre engine is unlikely to be as popular but offers more in the way of power, with 150hp and 250Nm of torque enabling a 0-62mph time of 8.3 seconds.
The addition of the seven-speed DSG automatic should also make for an easier driving experience. It does, however, add £1,250 to the price tag. You can buy the Octavia Estate in four trims and it's this mid-range SE L that currently takes among the lion's share of sales.
Standard kit is generous and includes company car essentials like sat-nav, cruise control, Apple CarPlay, voice control functionality, Wi-Fi hotspot, parking sensors, Alcantara and leather upholstery, and dual-zone air-con.
Our car also comes equipped with over £4,500 worth of options. A large chunk of that cash is for the upgraded sat-nav system with Wi-Fi for £1,050, while the panoramic sunroof is the most expensive addition at £1,150, which seems a little too pricey in our book.
There's also a Park Assist system for £590 which I'm looking forward to testing thoroughly in the weeks to come, and upgraded 18-inch alloy wheels, which it'll be interesting to see what effect these have on the Octavia's usually excellent ride quality.
If I was spec'ing up an Octavia Estate as my next company car, this probably wouldn't be the engine or trim I would go for. However, the world of fleet is changing and I'm looking forward to finding out if this 1.4-litre petrol with automatic gearbox really can be the powertrain of choice for fleets in the future. I don't often like to be proved wrong, however I feel like this may be the exception.
Our average consumption n/a
- LED headlights
- Apple CarPlay
- Cruise control
- Alcantara and leather upholstery
- Driver fatigue sensor
- Dual-zone air-con
- Voice control system
- Rear parking sensors
- Upgraded 18-inch alloy wheels (£400)
- Columbus sat-nav with Wi-Fi (£1,050)
- LED rear lights (£150)
- Metallic paint (£555)
- Panoramic roof (£1,150)
- Park Assist (£590)
- Rear-view camera (£375)
- Temporary spare wheel (£100)
- Wireless phone charging (£300)