The moment I filed the copy for last month’s magazine, in which I celebrated the Octavia’s triumphant return to my driveway, the Skoda seemingly decided it wanted to go back to Milton Keynes. I pressed send, threw on my coat and headed to the shops. As I made my way there, the car hatched the eggs that would soon adorn my unsuspecting visage.
First, the big in-car infotainment screen crashed, restarting itself partway through a particularly dull mid-season Premier League encounter. A few minutes later, it did the same again. This carried on for a handful of cycles, but the screen eventually died on me, refusing to restart despite my best efforts – most of which involved performing digital, one-fingered CPR on the power button. I opted against mouth-to-mouth.
Anyway, no matter how often I stopped and restarted the car, the infotainment screen remained resolutely broken. I had no radio, no Bluetooth and no navigation system. I couldn’t even use Android Auto to access my smartphone’s functions from there instead. But the worst part was the lack of control over the climate control system.
No matter what the weather, I always set the climate control to something between 18 and 20 degrees. It’s a comfortable temperature perfectly suited to jeans and a T-shirt, which are the only items of clothing I seem to own. Efficient climate control means the Octavia’s cabin is permanently pleasant, as long as I’m the only one on board.
My other half, however, has no comprehension of temperature, and will not accept that 19 degrees Celsius is the same temperature whether you’re in the Seychelles or Siberia. So when it’s cold, she ramps the climate control up to about 24 degrees, failing to realise the 19 degrees that’s so comfortable in the summer will be equally comfortable in winter. Naturally, when the Octavia’s touchscreen broke down, she was the last person on board, so the heater was stuck on full blast.
I’ve never been a fan of hiding temperature controls in the touchscreen – nothing beats a good old rotary dial – but this is a great example of why it’s such a bad idea. Not only did I lose control of the air vents, but I lost the heated seats, too. With the temperature ramped up to 1,000,000,000 degrees, though, that wasn’t such a great issue.
After a few days of boiling in silence and hoping the car would fix itself, I grew tired of the broken touchscreen and got in touch with Skoda. By the end of the week, the Octavia had returned to Skoda’s UK HQ in Milton Keynes, and I was pootling around in a (fully functional) Kodiaq. Lovely as that car is, I missed the Octavia, and I was happy to see it return a week later, complete with one fully functional touchscreen.
Last month, I questioned whether Skoda was still the beacon of reliability that earned it so much praise over the past decade or so. After this episode – and after hearing from an acquaintance whose new-generation Octavia has also suffered electrical gremlins – I’m increasingly concerned my fears may actually be justified.
Date arrived 10th September 2020
Economy (WLTP combined) 55.4-62.8mpg
Economy (On test) 61.0mpg