Despite being back from the menders’ and supposedly fixed, it comes as no surprise that the Skoda’s electrics are still playing up. Thankfully, issues are a lot less frequent than before, with just the occasional error message flashing up on the dashboard, but it’s still common enough to be irritating.
It’s a shame, because as my time with the Octavia draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on what might have been. I was excited to take delivery – especially after spending about six weeks with the Superb – and I’d hoped it would make the coming months easier and more enjoyable than many of its rivals could have. But it hasn’t worked out that way. I don’t want to part with the Octavia on bad terms, and in the name of balance, it’s well worth pointing out the myriad plus points of life with this massive estate car.
Let’s kick off with the engine, which is a triumph of engineering that somehow manages to sip diesel at an alarmingly slow rate. On a long run, with the cruise control set at something in the mid-seventies, it’ll return almost 70mpg. It’s like an underage drinker tentatively tasting their first pint. Of course, the trade-off is a slight lack of potency, but while I’d still rather have the 148bhp version of this 2.0-litre motor, I can’t say this 114bhp unit wants for performance. It just isn’t exciting, but it doesn’t feel under-endowed, either.
Then there’s the space. Skodas are renowned for their carrying capacity, and the Octavia hasn’t disappointed on that front. I chose this winter to renovate my house, and I’m too mean to employ a builder or a plumber, and so the Octavia has doubled as a tradesman’s van remarkably well. Copper pipes, lengths of timber and numerous power tools have all been swallowed by the humongous load bay, while the ‘ski hatch’ in the rear seats has also made life much easier. Sticking with the interior, I’m a big fan of the new-look cabin. The design has moved on no end since the previous-generation car, and the Octavia now feels thoroughly modern. There are a few concerns, including the lack of physical climate control switchgear and the horrible touch-sensitive slider arrangement that operates as a volume control, but it looks the business, and for that I’ll forgive it for a few foibles.
I also think the exterior design is brilliant. Perhaps because of the badge, Skodas seem to fly under the radar a little, so we don’t notice just how good they look. Step back, forget this is a Skoda, and just marvel at how brilliant it looks. Particularly in this shade of blue, and especially when viewed from the rear. It’s certainly an improvement on the old car, with its silly split headlights.
In short, the Octavia had all the makings of a fantastic car – and one I would gladly have kept driving for forever and a day – but the reliability has worn me down to the point where I’m happy to see the back of it. Here’s hoping the car’s next custodian, Simon Thompson, has a bit more luck with it.
Date arrived 10th September 2020
Economy (WLTP combined) 55.4-62.8mpg
Economy (On test) 61.3mpg