The space ma­chine

Warwickshire Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - By Peter Keenan

HE dic­tio­nary def­i­ni­tion of prac­ti­cal is ‘suit­able for a par­tic­u­lar pur­pose’.

If you need a small fam­ily hatch­back that acts like a big one so it can cater com­fort­ably for five adults and their lug­gage, then the Octavia is the prac­ti­cal so­lu­tion.

This is a car for those who use heads rather than hearts when de­cid­ing what mo­tor they want to buy.

While it looks smart enough and is de­cent to drive, the ma­jor­ity of own­ers are go­ing to be at­tracted by one thing – how much you can get in it.

For the money, there is no doubt this Skoda of­fers space nor­mally only found by step­ping up a level and pay­ing a good deal more than its £18,500 price-tag – or go­ing the whole hog and choos­ing a van.

The Octavia is a load-lug­ging nir­vana with the boot of­fer­ing an enor­mous 590 litres that ex­pands to 1,580 litres when the rear seats are folded flat.

Opt for the es­tate and the ba­sic fig­ure rises to 610 litres, while the cave cre­ated by low­er­ing the rear bench is enough to keep a fam­ily of griz­zly bears happy.

Raw space comes with clever think­ing as the boot of the hatch I drove of­fered shop­ping bag hooks, handy load bay lights and a 12-volt power sup­ply.

Nor­mally the trade off for lots of the above is less room for hu­man be­ings – but that’s not the case with the lat­est Octavia which boasts more in­te­rior space than sta­ble­mate the Volk­swa­gen Golf, or the Ford Fo­cus.

The mod­ern cabin is ac­cessed via wide-open­ing doors and again gives cars in the class above a run for their money by of­fer­ing as­ton­ish­ing leg and head room al­low­ing five adults to be swal­lowed with the ease of an ana­conda.

There are lots of cubby holes, stor­age boxes and cup hold­ers as well as rub­bish bins and boot hold­ers. I even found an ice scraper lo­cated in­side the fuel filler cap - in mo­tor­ing terms that’s as prac­ti­cal as it gets.

The driver gets a steer­ing wheel ad­justable for height and reach, while the seat can also be eas­ily moved into ex­actly the right po­si­tion.

Cars la­belled ‘prac­ti­cal’ are some­times a bit dull to drive - but the Octavia cuts the mus­tard on the road. The 1.0-litre three-cylin­der petrol en­gine – linked to a su­per slick six-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion – that lurked un­der the bon­net of my test car is a star. It de­liv­ers crisp ac­cel­er­a­tion away from the lights with the usual thrum from a three-pot well con­tained.

Whether pootling around the ur­ban jun­gle or cruis­ing at mo­tor­way speeds it is equally happy while sip­ping fuel with fan­tas­tic ef­fi­ciency thanks to a stop-start sys­tem.

Skoda of­fer a broad range of tur­bocharged en­gines with other petrol op­tions in­clud­ing a 1.4-litre TSI four­cylin­der, or a 2.0-litre TSI with an out­put of ei­ther 217bhp or 227bhp in the hot vRS ver­sion. If you pre­fer a diesel then the choices are a 1.6-litre TDI pro­duc­ing 108bhp, or a 2.0-litre TDI which pro­duces ei­ther 148bhp or 181bhp in the more pow­er­ful vRS.

The line up starts with the en­trylevel S which fea­tures al­loy wheels and a DAB ra­dio, be­fore mov­ing up to the SE model I drove which adds trin­kets such as the Bolero touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, dual-zone air con­di­tion­ing, a leather multi-func­tion steer­ing wheel, Blue­tooth, cruise con­trol as well as a host of elec­tronic aids to keep you on the road and a raft of airbags to pro­tect oc­cu­pants should an accident be un­avoid­able. The SE model also comes as up­graded Sport and Tech­nol­ogy trims.

After that you ven­ture into the realm of the SE L and lux­ury Lau­rin & Kle­ment ver­sions.

Built in the Czech Rep­blic, the Octavia is a solid per­former packed full of good ideas of­fer­ing lots of space that will ap­peal to fam­i­lies look­ing for a spa­cious mo­tor.

TEST DRIVE SKODA OCTAVIA 1.0

Model: Skoda Octavia 1.0 TSI SE Hatch Price: £18,500 Me­chan­i­cal: 115ps, 999cc, 3cyl petrol en­gine driv­ing front wheels via 6-speed man­ual gear­box Max speed: 126mph 0-62mph: 9.9 sec­onds Com­bined mpg: 58.9 In­surance group: 14 CO2 emis­sions: 110g/km BiK rat­ing: 21% War­ranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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