Skoda Octavia Mk4 (2020-present) Expert Review

Skoda Octavia Mk4 (2020-present) Expert Review

Family cars don’t get much better than the Skoda Octavia. Whether you buy the hatchback or the estate, it’s absolutely massive inside both for people and for luggage, while the quality is impressive and plenty of standard equipment is provided. It’s comfortable and civilised to drive, and best of all, it’s really affordable, both to buy and to run. As an all-rounder, it’s extremely difficult to fault.

Fact File

Body Styles

  • Five-door hatchback
  • Five-door estate

Years Available

2020, 2021, 2022


Skoda Octavia Mk4 (2020-present) Expert Review

You could argue that the Octavia epitomises everything that Skoda buyers love about the brand. Like most offerings from the Czech carmaker, you get a bigger-than-average car for a smaller-than-average price. What’s not to love about that? No wonder, then, that despite the introduction of a variety of fashionable SUVs into Skoda’s model line-up, the Octavia remains the firm’s best-selling car.

Now in its fourth generation (provided you don't count a much earlier model named Octavia that was sold between 1951 and 1971), the Octavia is Skoda’s answer to small family hatchbacks such as the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Honda Civic, and uses the same mechanicals as in-house Volkswagen Group small-hatch offerings such as the Audi A3, Seat Leon and Volkswagen Golf. And in true Skoda fashion, the Octavia is considerably bigger than any of those rivals, yet cheaper to buy than most of them. Even before you consider all the car’s other talents, that already makes it feel like fantastic value for money.

And predictably, this size advantage equates to class-leading practicality. The car has considerably more space in both the front- and the back seats than any rival - particularly when it comes to legroom - and there's space for three across the rear bench if needs be. What's more, the enormous 600-litre boot is around 200 litres bigger than those of most rivals. And that’s in the hatchback. If you need even more space, then the Estate version boosts cargo space to 640 litres. Granted, there’s a load lip to contend with and there’s also a step in the floor when you fold down the 60/40 split rear seats (which also lie at an angle), but for outright space, no rival can get anywhere near it.

Interior quality is another area in which the Octavia compares extremely well with its rivals. Even compared with its Audi and VW stablemates, it feels every bit as solid and sophisticated, and compared with pretty much everything else in the class, it feels like a proper cut above. Lots of standard luxury kit is provided on all models, too, and the intuitive high-definition touchscreen infotainment system and digital instruments also lend a high-tech feel.

Importantly, the Octavia is also an impressively civilised car to drive. The ride isn’t quite as cosseting as you get in a Volkswagen Golf, but it’s still impressively comfortable, and the impressive rolling refinement also helps make this a quiet, serene and peaceful way to get around. Granted, the Octavia isn’t the most agile car in its class, either, due in part to its extra size and weight, but it always feels assured and stable and the balance of comfort and control you get is just about spot on for the family buyers to whom the car will appeal.

The engines we’ve tried also contribute to the car’s easy-going nature, with easy-to-access muscle resulting in eager, easy performance. The engines do a good job on efficiency, too, so not only is the Octavia affordable to buy, it’s also just as affordable to run.

Three Things To Know

Skoda Octavia Mk4 (2020-present) Expert Review
  • This version of the Octavia is known as the mk4 car, but the modern-day mk1 Octavia, released in 1996, isn’t actually where the Octavia name began. The first Skoda Octavia was actually built between 1959 and 1971, and was a small family car - offered as both a saloon and a Combi Estate - that served as the successor to the 440 and 445. It got its name from the fact that it was the eighth model to be offered by the nationalised Skoda brand.
  • This review was written not long after the mk4 Octavia was launched, and as such, a range of introductory trim levels were still being offered on the new car. The SE First Edition was the entry-level car, and even this came superbly well equipped. For a suitably modest outlay, buyers got alloy wheels, automatic lights and wipers, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, a leather-covered multifunction steering wheel, and the swanky-looking infotainment system complete with 10.25-inch display, digital instruments, DAB radio and Apple Carplay/Android Auto.
  • Two other trims were offered on top of the entry-level car, the SE L and the SE L First Edition. The former added more than two grand to the price, but it did add desirable items like satnav, voice control, keyless entry and go, front parking sensors, heated front seats, microsuede upholstery and adaptive cruise control. The latter, meanwhile, only added a few hundred quid to the price, but gave you blind spot assistance, electrically folding door mirrors, a powered driver’s seat and cool ambient cabin lighting.

Which One to Buy

Skoda Octavia Mk4 (2020-present) Expert Review
  • If you’re buying on a budget: You’ll want the cheapest Octavia you can get your hands on, and that’s the 1.0 TSI 110 SE First Edition. We haven’t tried the 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine in the Octavia yet, but it’s brilliant in other VW Group cars of a similar size and we can’t see why things would be any different here. Choosing SE First Edition trim also keeps the price down, yet still provides all the luxuries you expect, and a few you don’t.
  • If you’re after the best mpg available: It’s no surprise that it’s one of the two 2.0-litre diesel engines that gets the best fuel economy in the range, and it’s the 114bhp version of the 2.0 TDI that has the edge over its 148bhp counterpart. Its claimed maximum average of almost 66mpg is around 5mpg better.
  • If you want as much practicality as you can get: All Octavias give you incredible space in both the passenger compartment and luggage compartment – especially considering the money you pay – but the Estate version of the Octavia gives you even more load-carrying capacity. It’s not the cleverest or most versatile estate car out there, but you simply can’t fault the size of the Skoda Octavia Estate.
  • If you want all the toys: For the moment, the range-topper is the SE L First Edition. It only costs a few hundred quid more than the SE L, yet it does add some very desirable toys that make the upgrade easily worth it. For most buyers, though, we reckon SE First Edition trim will suffice, because it provides an impressive amount of kit while keeping the price a good bit lower.
  • If you want something a little bit racy: There's a high performance variant of the Octavia, and it's called the Octavia vRS. It still hadn't been released at the time of writing, so we haven't yet had the chance to try it, but traditionally, vRS-badged Octavias have provided a very tempting mix of performance, practicality and sporty styling. And with 242bhp from the petrol and plug-in hybrid versions, and 197bhp from the diesel, we can't see that changing. And depending on which of the powertrains you pick, the vRS can be had with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed DSG twin-clutch automatic. The petrol and hybrid are front-wheel drive, while the diesel can be specified with four-wheel drive.

Running Costs

Skoda Octavia Mk4 (2020-present) Expert Review

Periodic price rises mean that Skodas are no longer the incredible bargains that they once were, but by and large, they’re still really good value for money due to the enormous amount of car and technology you get for your outlay. Prices are competitive with those of most mainstream rivals, and although the Octavia will cost you a shade more than some of them, there are plenty of others that it undercuts. Used car prices should see similar differences due to the fact that the Skoda sheds its value at roughly the same rate as most mainstream rivals, so long-term costs should also be much-of-a-muchness.

In terms of fuel economy, the 1.0-litre petrols should return up to 55mpg according to the official figures, while the 148bhp 1.5 TSI petrol is said to be capable of around 50mpg. But, while these are more recent WLTP figures that are designed to be more representative of real-world conditions than the old-school NEDC ones, you’ll still find them rather optimistic compared with what you actually get. Expect to see more like 46mpg and 42mpg, respectively. The equivalent official figures for the 2.0-litre diesels stand at around 65mpg for the 114bhp engine and 61mpg for the 148bhp version, but again, expect to see more like 55mpg and 52mpg, respectively. These strong fuel economy figures are also accompanied by correspondingly strong figures for CO2 emissions, keeping tax bills reasonable for company car drivers.

Recommended service intervals stand at every one year or 10,000 miles, whichever comes first, but if you do mainly higher-mileage journeys at a constant speed (lots of motorway, in other words), then you can choose to opt for condition-based servicing that might spread the maintenance out a bit further. Skoda offers fixed price servicing plans to help buyers budget for their maintenance costs more effectively, and all the Skoda-approved parts used have a two-year guarantee.

At the time of writing, insurance groupings ranged between 11 at the bottom of the range to 21 at the top, so until more powerful iterations come along later, all Octavias will be affordable to cover. What’s more, all Octavias currently qualify for standard-rate VED (Vehicle Excise Duty) bills, so you’ll pay £150 per year for road tax.


Skoda Octavia Mk4 (2020-present) Expert Review

By and large, Skoda does very well in the various reliability and customer satisfaction surveys doing the rounds. Take the JD Power UK Vehicle Dependability study as an example. In the 2019 edition, Skoda came second out of the 24 carmakers assessed in the study, while it placed 4th the year before and 3rd the year before that. So, you can be confident that the Czech firm will consistently be there-or-there-abouts at the right end of the table.

Where the firm isn’t so hot, though, is on the warranty it provides. Don’t get us wrong, the three-year/60,000-mile arrangement (mileage limits don’t apply for the first two years) is on a par with what you get from most other manufacturers, and is therefore totally acceptable, but rivals like Toyota and Hyundai offer five years of cover, while Kia extends that to seven.

Despite Skoda’s strong record on reliability, there are one or two things that crop up fairly regularly on the fault front. It’s not unusual for water to make its way into the boot and front footwells due to poor drainage, so check for soggy carpets or musty smells. It’s also quite common for water to find its way into the headlamps units, which can cause them to short out in some cases. The DSG twin-clutch automatic gearbox can also have its issues, too, due to occasional faults within the gearbox itself, or within the central control unit, called the Mechatronic unit. These faults are fairly common across all the VW Group brands that use this hardware. On your test drive, make sure it shifts up and down the gears smoothly and cleanly, with no jerks or clunks, and make sure you take the car up to maximum legal speeds to make sure the transmission also behaves itself in the top couple of ratios.

The CarGurus Verdict

Skoda Octavia Mk4 (2020-present) Expert Review

If you need your family car to be strong in every single area, then the Skoda Octavia is probably the car for you. Its generous size and space means it’s (by some distance) the most practical car of its type, and it’s also packed full of clever little features that help make family life that little bit easier. The cabin is pleasantly trimmed and well made, and every version comes with an impressive amount of luxury and safety kit as standard. The driving experience you get is a sophisticated and grown-up one, with a comfortable ride and good refinement at all speeds, which helps keep the family calm on trips of all kinds. The engines, meanwhile, deliver a good mix of performance and economy. And, on top of all that, it’s more affordable than most of its rivals. Maybe not the sexiest or most exciting choice in its class, but easily one of the most well-rounded.

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Updated by Ivan Aistrop

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