Massive boots and great rear legroom, efficient diesels, subtle RS options
Used Car Review | Škoda Octavia (2012-2019)
Good Stuff 👍
Bad Stuff 👎
The Golf has a more prestige image, dual-clutch gearbox is a weak point
What is the Skoda Octavia like?
All the car anyone needs?
Few compact family cars offer space like the Skoda Octavia. Whether you choose the hatchback or the even larger Combi estate, there’s room for five on board, while a big boot offers space for their luggage, too. With the arrival of the third generation in 2012, there was a distinct uptick in quality and equipment, while the car’s driving manners edged ever-closer to the Golf from parent company Volkswagen. We refer to the Golf because under the skin the Octavia Mk3 shared its platform, engines, gearboxes and suspension with the seventh-generation of VW’s machine. The reality is that the Octavia Mk3 offers a Golf-like drive and just about the same quality, but for a better-value price and with more space.
What do you need to pay attention to when buying a Skoda Octavia?
Service history is very important
It’s worth noting that the Skoda Octavia Mk3’s practicality meant that it was a popular choice with taxi drivers – before government incentives drew cabbies towards hybrid and all-electric models. That means there will be examples for sale with astronomical mileages, and Octavia taxis are at risk of being clocked.
Your best bet is to find an Octavia with an original and fully stamped service book that should show the car’s mileage at each service interval. Tell-tale signs of a car that has covered a greater distance than is shown on the odometer include a shiny steering wheel, saggy seat cushions, worn fabrics or shinier leather upholstery (where fitted), more stone chips and dents to the bodywork, wheel scrapes, damaged glass and sloppy feeling suspension and steering.
We wouldn’t steer you away from a high-mileage model if it came with a complete service history (and came with a tempting price tag), but you need to be aware that time and distance covered means that it’s more likely that something will go wrong. A full service history from a main dealer will provide some peace of mind, though.
There are issues for the Skoda Octavia, but on the whole owners have provided positive feedback when it comes to reliability. If you’re looking at a 1.6 TDI or 2.0 TDI diesel, then it’s worth checking that the diesel particulate filter (DPF) is working correctly – if a diesel Octavia has only ever been used at lower urban speeds, then this can result in the DPF becoming clogged with soot. Signs of a clogged DPF include a lack of power, an engine that doesn’t rev freely, black smoke from the exhaust when accelerating, a smell of diesel in the cabin and the tell-tale DPF warning light on the dashboard.
High-mileage models fitted with an automatic gearbox could have age-related issues. The Octavia features a DSG-type twin-clutch transmission, and if the transmission has harsh shifts, fails to change gears, causes the engine to stall or suffers from mechanical noises and vibration, then there might be a problem.
AA Used Cars
“Your best bet is to find an Octavia with an original and fully stamped service book that should show the car’s mileage at each service interval. ”
What makes a used Skoda Octavia a good buy?
They can cope with big mileage
Not only can the Octavia carry a family of five and their luggage, but it’s also a good car to drive, it comes in a broad range of trims to suit most budgets, and it offers a pleasing amount of tech, too. Entry-level models are pretty basic, but get the job done, while higher spec and performance models offer a lot for the money. Just beware of any high-mileage cars that lack a service history, because they could soon be in line for some expensive repairs.
What version of the Skoda Octavia makes the best buy?
Lots to choose from.
Choosing the right Skoda Octavia starts with the body style – do you want a hatchback or an estate? There are plenty of both on offer, although hatchbacks outnumber estates on the used market at around 2:1. Nearly every trim level is available in both body styles, with the one exception being the Octavia Scout, which was estate-only. It offered a raised ride height and four-wheel drive, and is an alternative flagship to the rapid RS models.
Speaking of Octavia RS (or VRS for UK-sourced imports), this is the performance model and uses the same 2.0-litre TSI petrol and 2.0 TDI diesel engines as the Golf GTI and GTD. The RS came as an estate, while four-wheel drive was also on offer. These models deliver great performance in a package that doesn’t draw attention like some other hot hatchbacks.
Diesels account for around three-quarters of the Octavias for sale in Ireland, with 1.6 and 2.0 TDI units on offer. The smaller engine is reasonable but might struggle if you take advantage of the Octavia’s passenger and boot space on a regular basis, and it’s not quite as robust, either. The 2.0 TDI in 150hp guise is a great all-round engine that offers a great balance between economy and pulling power.
As with the diesels, the petrol engines offer pulling power at the top of the range, but not quite as much at the other extreme. There were smaller 1.2 and 1.4 TSI units available at launch, but facelifted models were available with a 1.0 TSI three-cylinder turbocharged petrol option, which, like the 1.6 TDI, won’t be great with heavy loads, but packs a surprising amount of punch with a reasonable payload on board. As with the diesel, the mid-range 1.5 TSI with 150hp offers a good mix of performance and economy, since it includes cylinder deactivation technology.
Active trim is pretty basic, with steel wheels and plastic trims plus a no-frills interior, but you don’t have to spend much more to get some decent equipment on higher trims. The top-spec has you could ask for, while the Scout offers a rugged appearance, suede and leather upholstery and a unique brown interior colour.
What are good alternatives to the Skoda Octavia?
The main rivals to the Skoda Octavia are the Volkswagen Golf and Peugeot 308.
The Skoda Octavia is classed as a compact hatchback, but it’s one of the larger models in the class, and few can match it for boot space. As already mentioned, the VW Golf Mk7 shares the same engines and technology, but you won’t be getting as much car for your money. Another alternative is the SEAT Leon, which also uses the same running gear and has a slightly sharper look, but again not quite as much space.
Beyond these platform-sharing models, there is a lengthy list of alternatives. The Peugeot 308 Mk2 offers good cargo space, the Opel Astra J & K are a bit more upmarket and have a wide range of engines, the Ford Focus drives well, the Honda Civic is roomy, the Hyundai i30 and Kia Ceed offer dependable transport, the Toyota Auris is available as a fuel-saving hybrid, the Mazda3 is a sporty option and the Renault Megane offers lots of car for the money. All bar the Mazda are available as estates, while certain models also came as saloons.
A really excellent buy.
With lots of space inside and a variety of trim levels to choose from, the Skoda Octavia is a great option if you need a car that will be able to take on your family transport needs. It’s not the most exciting looking machine, especially in facelifted guise, but it gets the job done. Diesel power will deliver good efficiency and power, while the RS models are subtle performance cars that don’t attract too much attention. High-spec models, including the Scout, are surprisingly comfortable, and you get a lot of car for your money.
Spec Check ⚙️
1.0 TSI (115hp), 1.5 TSI (150hp), 2.0 TSI(190hp)
2.0 TDI (115hp), 2.0 TDI (150hp), 2.0 TDI (184hp)
Used Car Review of the Skoda Octavia Mark 3