I’ve never understood why people buy large hatchbacks ñ or indeed hatchbacks of any size ñ when thereís an estate available. While hatchbacks offer a decent level of practicality, the estate takes this to the extreme, so for just a bit extra youíve got all that extra practicality. Youíve only got to need it occasionally and that extra investment instantly pays off.
But for some cars this argument doesnít really hold water, and the Skoda Octavia is one of them. For example, our 2.0 TDI SE L is listed (without options) at £23,150 in hatchback form and £24,350 as an estate. For the extra £1,200, you get a car that can stow up to 1,740 litres of luggage, whereas the hatch maxes out at 1,580. With the rear seats in use, the estate can hold up to 610 litres of goods and chattels; the hatch counters this with 590 litres. Taking all the numbers out of the equation, the bottom line is that the hatchback offers so much carrying capacity that for most people, paying a premium for the estate is pointless. Unless you regularly need the extra height in the boot with the rear seats in place, an Octavia hatch offers all the carrying capacity youíre likely to need.
As I write this, Iíve just bumped into a friend of mine whoís a taxi driver and heís now suffering from load bay envy; the Octavia hatchís boot is everything he could ever need for those frequent airport runs that he has to undertake. Itís no coincidence that many of his mates on the rank are long-term owners of Octavias ñ some have had several thanks to the blend of space, economy, reliability and comfort.
Two months in with our Octavia and Iíve been enjoying all of those things, and over the next few issues youíll be finding out why owners love their Octavias so much. Iíve been making good use of the carrying capacity with my occasional weekends away with my bike, which fits in so easily that I think I could get another half a dozen in there without having to remove so much as a pedal. Itís not as though all this boot space is at the expense of rear seat leg room, because thereís also as much of that as youíre ever likely to need. Despite this, the Octavia isnít especially large. At 4,689mm long, itís around a foot longer than a Focus hatchback.
However, while the Octaviaís practicality is proving to be a winner, some of the technology it features is turning out to be more frustrating. While my phone was happy to pair without issue, it now keeps disconnecting after Iíve reconnected it manually when starting the car. More on that in the next issue…
Date arrived 2nd May 2017
Fuel economy 65.7mpg (combined) 52.1mpg (on test)
The quality of the rear parking camera is excellent; there are various modes for it too, depending on how the car is being manoeuvred.
The positioning of the 12-volt socket just behind the gearlever isn’t ideal; it would be better if it was located in the centre console.