- New Skoda Octavia hatch and wagon
- Upgraded interior, a slew of technology
- Now with mild- and plug-in hybrids
Pay attention - this is a big one for Skoda. It may well look like a smaller version of the Superb, but this new 2020 Skoda Octavia is arguably the most important car for the Czech brand, selling in the highest numbers and competing with that other strong seller you may have heard of... inhouse cousin, the Volkswagen Golf.
Is the 2020 Skoda Octavia actually new? And is it still just a Golf in Czech finery?
Yes, it is. But there’s a lot more to it.
The latest Octavia range still shares the VW’s MQB platform, but there’s a lot more going on under that sleek new body than before – we’re talking more advanced engines and lots of safety tech.
Smarter styling reflects the upmarket push for Skoda, making the outgoing model immediately look a bit old-hat. Shrinking the Superb down and adding slick new LED lights and chrome bits make it feel a lot fancier - and we'd judge the design most successful in the Octavia wagon. Be sure to let us know in the comments below.
It's predictable enough and there's certainly nothing overly shocking about it, but there’s just about enough about it that’s different to the bigger Superb to make it feel fresh, both on the outside and in the cabin.
What’s new inside the 2020 Octavia?
A lot. Unsurprisingly taking inspiration from the Mk8 Golf, the Octavia’s interior features optional digital dials and a big touchscreen display sticking out of the dashboard. There will be a few different sizes of screen on offer - up to 10 inches on top-spec models - with an updated operating system.
A row of shortcuts sits neatly below on the swoopier dash, and there’s a new drive-by-wire gear selector that’s ousted the traditional gear lever on automatic models, keeping things tidy on the centre console.
Plenty of ambient lighting and upmarket materials surround you, with a noticeable improvement in quality over the old car.
There are super-comfy seats like the ErgoComfort ones you’ll find in a VW Passat, plus a fancy new two-spoke steering wheel with plenty of buttons to keep you entertained or confused. If that’s all a bit too much, you can also choose a more traditional three-spoker.
There’s more tech, too
Available for the first time on a Skoda is a head-up display, while a more comprehensive suite of driver assistance and safety kit is available.
This borrows from the Passat’s stable with things like predictive cruise control with stop-and-go, turn assist to stop you pulling out dangerously into traffic and other driver alert systems that should keep you largely out of trouble. Not all will come as standard, remember.
Skoda Octavia: engines are upgraded too
What goes on under the bonnet has changed a lot, too. There are still petrol and diesel variants, but the petrols with dual-clutch gearboxes feature mild-hybrid tech to boost performance and economy thanks to a 48-volt belt-driven motor.
Skoda calls these engines eTEC.
Finally, a plug-in hybrid Octavia iV will be available using a 1.4-litre TSI petrol and electric motor for a combined output of 150kW and around 50km of EV range. Don't hold your breath for that car, though, as Skoda has already ruled out hybrid-powered models ahead of its planned EV assault.
Big on practicality
It wouldn’t be a new Skoda without a bigger boot, so the hatch offers 600 litres of boot space and the Octavia wagon a whopping 640 litres.
They didn’t need to be bigger, but Skoda did it anyway, and as ever, it’s festooned with Simply Clever things like umbrellas, hand brushes, ice scrapers, bins and nets to keep all your usual in-car detritus slightly more contained.
Skoda Octavia for Australia
Locally, expect to see the Octavia touch down early in 2021. Skoda's local team says it's too early to comment on what models will drop in for our market, the range is likely to "closely resemble" what's on offer today.
That means we'll see both the wagon and the sedan with petrol engines, while Skoda has previously hinted that manuals will still have a place in its line-up.
It's a safe bet that we'll see the return of the hotted-up RS range, which has proven a strong seller for the local arm.
However, diesels and AWD variants look like they're off the table./Tim Robson
What do you reckon about the new Skoda Octavia? Enough to tempt you away from an SUV? Let us know below!
This article was jointly written with CAR UK.