The Skoda Octavia, the brand’s most successful model in the UK and a multi-million seller around the world, celebrates another milestone in 2019 – the 60th anniversary of its introduction. Originally, it was designed to bring affordable and high-quality motoring to the widest possible audience, and Skoda says the design and engineering philosophies behind the Octavia remain the same today.
While the Octavia has been a sales success around the world, more than 500,000 examples have found homes in the UK since the first 1959 model rolled onto UK roads. And, six decades later, it remains Skoda’s top-seller with a range that includes nine equipment levels, 14 engine and transmission options and two body styles.
1959-1971 first-generation Octavia
The eighth post-war car to be designed and built at Mladá Boleslav, the Octavia took its name from the latin word for eight – octo. Production began in 1959, with exports to global markets – including the UK – starting shortly after.
In terms of design and engineering, the Octavia featured the same advanced tubular backbone chassis design as its predecessor (the 440/445) but introduced more sophisticated coil spring suspension. Power came from a 1.1-litre four-cylinder engine that developed just 40PS. A modestly more powerful 1.2-litre, 45PS engine arrived later the same year, followed by a range-topping 50PS in March 1960.
By the early 1960s, Skoda’s export drive was in full swing, while the availability of a new estate version – complete with split tailgate and 1,050 litre boot –broadened its appeal even further.
The arrival of the rear-engined 1000/1100MB in 1964 marked the end of the road for the first-generation Octavia saloon. However, with its replacement unsuited to an estate car layout, the Octavia estate remained in production at Kvasiny until 1971. Between 1959 and 1971, a total of 360,000 Octavias were produced, including more than 54,000 estate versions.
1996 – 2004: new-generation Octavia Mk1
1,451,636 cars built
An all-new Octavia was one of the cornerstones of Skoda’s ambitious design and engineering programme following its acquisition by the Volkswagen Group in 1991. Within five years, the dream became a reality. Built on an all-new Mlada Bolelsav production line, it signalled the start of Skoda’s re-emergence as a mainstream car maker and proved an instant hit with buyers.
The range expanded to include an estate version, along with a wide variety of engine and trim options. Skoda’s first vRS model arrived in 2001, along with a four-wheel drive estate variant.
In the UK more than 78,839 of this new generation Octavia Mk1 were sold.
2004-2013; Octavia Mk2
2,274,529 cars built
The second-generation Octavia continued its predecessor’s success story. First shown at the Geneva Motor Show in 2004, the Mk2 Octavia arrived with a sleeker design, a bigger cabin and more state-of-the-art technology.
With a line-up featuring direct injection engines, six-speed transmissions and a DSG double-clutch gearbox, the Octavia became a serial award-winner, picking up accolades from both the motoring press and customer satisfaction organisations.
Such was the popularity of the second-generation Octavia that Skoda developed plans to create new production facilities around the world. In 2005, production began in Aurangabad in India, with China getting its own production line two years later. A new facility in Kaluga, Russia started building Octavias in 2009, and by 2011, nearly 38 per cent of all Octavia sales worldwide went to countries outside Europe.
A total of 130,662 Octavia Mk2 models were sold in the UK during its production run.
2013-present; Octavia Mk3
More than 2,500,000 cars built to date
Today, the third generation Octavia continues to form the backbone of the Skoda model range, accounting for 24 percent of UK Skoda sales in 2018.
Facelifted in 2017, the Octavia range is now the biggest ever, with a huge range of trim and engine options, including Scout 4×4 models, luxurious L&K variants and vRS performance flagships.
Eight Octavia facts
- In 2018, 388,200 Octavias were sold globally
- In the same year, 17,927 of them were sold in the UK
- The Octavia is the biggest selling model in the UK, accounting for 24 percent of annual sales in 2018
- In the UK, 52 percent of buyers choose the Octavia Hatch, with 48 percent preferring the Estate
- Between 2011- 2017, a UK-built Octavia held the Land Speed Record with a speed of 227.080mph
- Approximately 20 percent of all Octavia models sold in the UK are vRS versions
- The one-millionth third-generation Octavia rolled off the Mladá Boleslav production line in 2016
- The Octavia Estate is the number one car in its fleet segment