Re­mod­elled as a large fam­ily car, the Skoda Octavia range has been win­ning sales – and awards – for 20 years. Paul Con­nolly looks at the lat­est mod­els

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - CARFINDER UP­DATE

WHEN Skoda trum­peted the man­u­fac­ture of the sixth mil­lionth Octavia model last sum­mer, it was just the lat­est mile­stone in the his­tory of a re­mark­able suc­cess story.

The Octavia was es­sen­tially the key car that helped re­launch Skoda from a fusty com­mu­nist-era Czech car maker to the in­ter­na­tional pow­er­house it is to­day.

Part of the Volk­swa­gen Group since the early 90s, Skoda con­tin­ues to earn plau­dits – and sales – for its in­creas­ingly di­verse range of small cars, sa­loons and SUVS.

Octavia is Skoda’s most pop­u­lar model, with around 40% of all new Sko­das being Oc­tavias.

The first-gen­er­a­tion Octavia was re­leased in Novem­ber 1996 but didn’t go on sale in the UK un­til ‘98. It was an in­stant hit with driv­ers look­ing for a solid fam­ily car that was re­fined but also great value for money.

The car was widely used by taxi driv- ers, who val­ued its price, size, re­li­a­bil­ity and good leas­ing ar­range­ments for self-em­ployed cab­bies.

The build qual­ity of the Octavia and other mod­els which fol­lowed hard on its heels blew Con­tin­ued on Page 2 >>

away a gen­er­a­tion of Skoda/lada jokes (although Lada was un­able to em­u­late Skoda’s suc­cess).

Fast for­ward to 2004, and the sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Octavia was born. As well as sedan and es­tate body styles, two four-wheel drive mod­els were in­tro­duced: the 4x4 and the Scout.

The third gen­er­a­tion Octavia – the cur­rent one – went on sale in the UK and Ire­land in early spring 2013.

It was big­ger, roomier and lighter than its pre­de­ces­sor, and had sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments to its en­gines and on­board tech­nol­ogy.

WHAT’S NEW? A mid-life facelift last year re­freshed the cur­rent Octavia. With the in­tro­duc­tion of the smaller Skoda Rapid, Skoda’s de­sign­ers moved the Octavia up­wards, both in size and des­ig­na­tion. It’s now a large fam­ily hatch­back and comes equipped with ev­ery­thing as­so­ci­ated with that seg­ment, in­clud­ing im­proved tow­ing abil­ity.

The up­grade gave it re­designed front and rear sec­tions, stream­lined body and a wider track. Im­proved in­te­rior space, func­tion­al­ity, tech­nol­ogy for safety as well as com­fort, and value for money re­main key fea­tures.

Cus­tomers have a choice of four trim lev­els: S, SE, SE Tech­nol­ogy, SE L and the range-top­ping L&K.

The lat­est Octavia is also distin­guished by a large range of de­riv­a­tive mod­els in­clud­ing the

EN­TRY LEVEL MOD­ELS The S trim (from £17,800) is well ap­pointed, with fea­tures that in­clude 16” Al­cantras al­loy wheels with anti-theft wheel bolts, smart­phone con­nec­tiv­ity in­clud­ing Ap­ple Carplay/an­droid Auto and an 8” Bolero touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem with SD card.

SE (£19,095) gets bet­ter tech and kit in­clud­ing 16” Ilias al­loy wheels, dual-zone cli­mate con­trol air con with hu­mid­ity sen­sor and cruise con­trol.

As the name sug­gests, SE Tech­nol­ogy (also from £19,095) is more tech-fo­cused.

Fea­tures in­clude 8.0” Amund­sen touch­screen sat nav and in­te­grated Wi-fi, adap­tive cruise con­trol with front as­sist and front/ rear park­ing sen­sors.

HIGHER-SPEC CARS You’ll pay an ex­tra few grand for SE L mod­els (from £22,460), but that gives pre­mium kit like Al­can­tara & leather up­hol­stery, and full LED head­lights, more en­gine choices and AFS and LED day­time run­ning lights.

Trade up to range-top­ping L&K trim (£28,390) for fur­ther pre­mium kit like 9.2” Colum­bus touch­screen sat nav with 3D maps, a Canton sound sys­tem and a heated 3-spoke multi-func­tional steer­ing wheel.

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