VW’s Group’s latest 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine reaches the Octavia Estate. Is it the one to go for?
How do you like your 148bhp turbocharged four-cylinder petrol Skoda Octavia? Why do we ask? Because at the time of writing, you can have it in two flavours: a 1.4-litre or a 1.5-litre.
That’s because the ‘old’ 1.4 (which is still obtainable) is in the process of being superceded by the new 1.5 TSI Evo. The power and torque figures are identical, but the 1.5 is more fuel-efficient. The price for that is a 0.1sec reduction in the 0-62mph time, but that’s not something you’re likely to lose much sleep over.
We’ve always had a soft spot for the Skoda Octavia Estate, especially when it’s powered by the old 1.4 TSI motor. How does this new 1.5 unit cope as a load-lugger?
Well, the first thing you notice about it is that it’s just like the old 1.4 TSI in its smoothness, refinement and willingness to rev. Skoda reckons it should have exactly the same low-revs flexibility too, but to us the 1.5-litre Octavia didn’t feel quite as peppy as the 1.4 when a decisive burst of overtaking speed was called for.
Still, there’s no problem in extending the engine as far as it will go, making full use of the sharp six-speed manual gearbox. No harshness or vibes comes back to the driver via the steering column or pedals.
You’d never call an Octavia exciting on the handling front. It will always reassure you with its safety through corners without ever egging you on to greater feats of limit-exploration. The estate delivers the usual no-surprises package of slow but steady steering, nicely-controlled suspension and very good grip.
Skoda Octavia 1.5 TSI EVO Estate 2017
Price: From £20,815
Engine: 4cyl, 1495cc, turbo, petrol
Power: 148bhp at 5000rpm
Torque: 184lb ft at 1500-3500rpm
Gearbox: 6-spd manual
Top speed: 136mph
Economy: 56.5mpg (official average)
CO2: Tax band 115g/km, 22%
The ride quality is fine too, smoothing away urban lumps as comfortably as it deals with motorways. Only fit the optional (£750) 18in alloy wheels if you actually enjoy sensing the presence of pothole edges and ruts. You’ll detect some road din over bad surfaces, but wind noise is practically non-existent and it’s mechanically very quiet too. It all adds up to a relaxing cabin ambience.
And that’s a lot of ambience, because there’s a lot of cabin. The facelifted Octavia Estate is unchanged dimensionally so it’s still one of the roomiest estates in the class. The driving position is widely adjustable and three more adults will sit in total comfort in front of a jaw-droppingly large and well-shaped boot.
The quality and assembly of the cabin materials might not be class-topping but it is very pleasing, and so is Skoda’s selection of touchscreen infotainment systems. You get the pictured 8.0in screen as standard and the £1050 option of a 9.2-incher with sat-nav on SE L-spec cars. Both are sharply resolved resolution and simple to use. They’d be nigh-on perfect with a few more actual buttons to press rather than the virtual (and hard to pinpoint) screen buttons they have.
On balance, if we were choosing an Octavia Estate today we’d go for an SE-spec model (the order is S, SE, SE L and Lauren & Klement) powered by the new 1.5 TSI Evo petrol engine. SE would give us the useful additions of rear parking sensors, manual driver and passenger lumbar adjustment, a front centre armrest, multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, dual-zone climate control and rear electric windows, and it wouldn’t be that much more than an entry-level S.
The Octavia isn’t quite as posh inside or as comfortable at low speeds as a Volkswagen Golf Estate, and a Seat Leon ST beats it on driver engagement, but the Skoda whips the pair of them on passenger and luggage space. If your definition of an estate is pretty straightforward, this is one of the best you can buy.