Based on the stretched version of the Volkswagen Group’s new MQB platform, the Octavia is now 4659mm long, an increase of 90mm over its predecessor. Width is up by 45mm to 1814mm, but the real gain is in the wheelbase, which has grown by 108mm to 2686mm.
The enlarged size keeps the Octavia in its unusual position of being larger than its perceived rivals (VW Golf, Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra) but not as big as a car from the class above. It’s 125mm shorter than a Ford Mondeo, for example.
The new Octavia has what Skoda claims is class-leading interior space, with 1782mm of interior length, and increased head, knee and legroom for front and rear passengers. Boot space is also up, albeit by just five litres to 590. It’s still the largest in its class, easily beating the Golf’s 380 litres.
The entry-level engine is a 1.4 TSI with 120bhp and 147lb ft. There is also a more powerful 1.4 with 138bhp and 184lb ft. Initially, the range-topping petrol model will be the 1.8 TSI, with 177bhp and 184lb ft. A few months after launch, the 2.0-litre turbo engine from the Golf GTI will be introduced in a hot new Octavia vRS.
The diesels kick off with a 103bhp 1.6, and there’s a frugal 108bhp Greenline version of the 1.6 that returns a claimed 83mpg and emits 89g/km of CO2. Two 2.0 TDIs are also on offer, with 147bhp and 181bhp.
The vRS will surface next July at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. As with the current Octavia, both petrol and diesel vRS models will be offered.
Six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearboxes will be available, and it’s thought that the DSG has been redesigned to take higher torque outputs.
An estate will join the range next May, and four-wheel-drive models, including a rugged Scout, will arrive in 2014.
Inside, the new dashboard is much crisper than today’s, and the Golf-based architecture is obvious. There’s a touchscreen multimedia system, keyless start and entry and plenty of small, clever touches, such as rubbish bins in the doors and a reversible boot floor, with carpet on one side and rubber on the other. Higher equipment levels include a lane departure warning system and a pop-up bonnet to improve pedestrian safety.
The new Octavia will go on sale next March. Prices are set to rise slightly compared with the current range, which starts at about £14,000.
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