The start point for the best source of fleet information
Skoda's Octavia is new for 2020 and the estate version is more capable than ever.
Front assist, lane assist, 8.25in touchscreen display, eight-speaker audio, smartphone connectivity, five USB-C ports, including one in rear-view mirror for connecting to a dashcam
115hp 2.0, 150hp 2.0
SE First Edition, SEL First Edition, SE Technology
Six-speed manual, seven-speed DSG auto
We've reached the time where all four of the lower-medium cars in the VW Group stable undergo a transformation with a new model introduction.
This year, it has happened in rapid succession, starting with the Volkswagen Golf, with the Audi A3, Seat Leon and Skoda Octavia all following in rapid succession.
Sometimes the politics over which brand's models should appear first is complex, and while the Golf was first to market this time, it seems that Skoda came up trumps in being able to launch hatchback and estate at the same time.
The Octavia estate is our first encounter with the new model, although we have already tried its Volkswagen, Audi and Seat relatives.
We had a close look at the vehicle near the end of last year, and approved of its more elegant appearance (the predecessor's facelifted front end was a little heavy-handed).
The fourth-generation model comes with new technology, improved connectivity and updated engines.
Sadly for fleet operators and drivers, the latest diesel engines are not yet RDE2-compliant, so carry the 4% supplement applied to both BIK tax and employers' National Insurance contributions. It might not be a deal-breaker, and it seems that a number of new cars in this class haven't yet introduced RDE2 compliance, while others, whose new-generation models are a few years away, have launched RDE2 diesels to boost the appeal of these older designs.
Both the Peugeot 308 SW and Vauxhall Astra estate are available to order with RDE2-compliant diesels and offer the prospect of lower company car tax over the next few years.
All new cars will have to become RDE2-compliant in 2021, but it seems we won't have a level playing field until then.
The Octavia is initially available with a choice of two diesel engines, both with 2.0-litre capacities. The entry-level diesel produces 115hp with the higher-power version offering 150hp.
Additional derivatives and engine options will join the range later this year, including an entry-level S grade, a 1.0 TSI engine available with a manual transmission, the introduction of MHEV (mild hybrid) DSG on both the 1.0 TSI and 1.5 TSI, and PHEV (plug-in hybrid) models. A sporty vRS model, available in diesel, petrol and PHEV, will also be added to the range. The Octavia vRS iV will be the first-ever electrified vRS model.
The range is launched with SE First Edition, SEL First Edition and SE Technology, with the latter targeted at company car drivers. We expect S, SE, SE Technology and SEL to be the usual line-up when the first year of sales has passed, with the more luxurious Laurin & Klement and hot VRS versions to appear in 2021.
Our test car was the 115hp 2.0 TDI and even in the slightly heavier estate guise it always felt eager enough for whatever the UK's post-lockdown roads and traffic were able to throw at it.
The car's interior, while using many of the same components as the Volkswagen Golf and Seat Leon, was much more user-friendly, although the multimedia system still has the feel that it's been designed to look good rather than be used. Having said that, it did feel a bit less daunting than the ones in the Golf and Leon.
The vehicle also feels solid and reassuring on the road, and occupants feel well insulated from the outside world. It offers plenty of space for five adults, and the luggage compartment is cavernous. When the rear seat is folded forward to increase space, the load floor isn't flat, but it is certainly accommodating.