Why the Skoda Octavia Estate won: Now looks smarter than ever yet retains its outstanding practicality, comfort, value for money and ease of use.
The Octavia is just one of the winners in this year’s Britain’s Best Car Awards – see the full list here.
Ah, the humble Octavia. It’s rather tricky to think of another car that’s more suited to this accolade than Skoda’s consummate box-ticker.
We’ve said before that the Octavia has long been a sort of get-out-of-jail-free card for motoring journalists put on the spot by people looking for family car buying advice, and with the new Mk4 model, we feel more justified than ever.
However, that recommendation no longer rests quite so heavily on the fact that the Octavia simply gives you more car for your money. With the number of C-segment estates swelling in recent years, it seems rival manufacturers have cottoned on to Skoda’s modus operandi of simply selling what is very nearly a D-segment car at a price point typically associated with smaller hatchbacks.
Such an increase in competition has arguably provoked Skoda to subtly evolve its keystone model for this latest iteration, and this metamorphosis has resulted in an Octavia that places a greater emphasis on sharp design, premium materials and technological appeal than ever before.
That’s not to say, though, that Skoda has lost track of the traits that have enabled it to stand out as an almost-default recommendation in the family car sphere. Crucially, the Octavia retains the primary emphasis on outstanding practicality and versatility that has long been one of Skoda’s calling cards. The Octavia is seriously spacious in liftback guise, but as for the estate, there’s very little that comes close to offering comparable levels of boot capacity for similar money.
Yet people sitting in the back don’t foot the bill for that additional luggage space; the flexibility of the Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform means there’s still plenty of room in the second row for passengers big and small. And with multiple USB-C charging ports dotted throughout the cabin (including in the roof) and wireless Apple CarPlay connectivity available, it won’t be too tricky to keep those ride-alongs entertained.
The Octavia doesn’t focus on dynamism, but a basic suspension set-up that’s conspicuously softer than that of its relatives lends it a relaxed, comfortable gait. This fluidity of ride, combined with a range of petrol and diesel engines that offer accessible, well-judged performance and suitable refinement, helps to paint the latest Octavia as a car that’s exceptionally easy to pilot over distances great and small. That it can be impressively frugal with the right engine and can be had with an arsenal of active safety systems doesn’t hurt either.