Skoda’s fourth iteration of its big-selling family car will be available to order in June this year, sporting a revised design, a host of fresh technology and a range of updated engines. Prices start from £22,390 for the hatchback and £23,370 for the estate.

Three trim-levels will be available from launch – SE First Edition, SE Technology, and SE L First Edition. An entry-level S variant and flagship vRS performance model will be introduced later this year, alongside a new plug-in hybrid powertrain option.

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Skoda Octavia estate prototype review

Standard equipment for the Octavia SE First Edition includes 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and rear parking sensors. Inside, buyers get dual-zone air conditioning, a leather steering wheel, five USB-C ports, a 10.25-inch digital instrument binnacle and an 8.25-inch infotainment system with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Prices for the SE L First Edition start from £25,150. Upgrades over the SE model include 17-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, headlight washers and a smattering of chrome trim. Interior improvements stretch to microsuede upholstery, heated front seats, a 10-colour LED ambient lighting system and a larger 10-inch touchscreen.

Between these two variants sits the Skoda Octavia SE Technology, which has been designed predominantly for business customers. It adds a unique set of 16-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors and a 10-inch infotainment system with integrated sat-nav. Prices start from £22,640 – just £250 more than the current base-model.

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New 2020 Skoda Octavia: drivetrain and chassis

Just three of the Skoda Octavia’s eight powertrains will be available from launch. The only petrol offering will be a 148bhp 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, which will send power to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox as standard.

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Two diesel units will also be available, both belonging to the Volkswagen Group’s EA288 family of turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines. The entry-level model will be priced from £23,300 and generate 113bhp, while the more potent model will start from £29,515 and produce 148bhp. A 197bhp variant of the same engine will be available later this year.

Over the coming year, the Octavia’s petrol engine range will grow to include a further three units – an entry-level 108bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder, a 242bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder for the vRS flagship and a 187bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. The latter will come equipped with a seven-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel-drive as standard, with Skoda claiming a 0–62mph time of 6.9 seconds and a top speed of 145mph.

The most interesting addition is the new Octavia iV, however, which is the first Octavia to be offered with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. A 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine combines with an electric motor to create a hybrid drivetrain with 201bhp and 350Nm torque.

The electric motor is fed by a lithium-ion battery pack with a 13kWh capacity, while Skoda claims that the newcomer is capable of 34 miles on battery power alone under WLTP testing, although no fuel economy figures have been published. A six-speed automatic gearbox is equipped, while Skoda says the Octavia iV will be wall-box friendly for faster recharges. It won’t be offered as a separate model either – this plug-in option will be available on all but the base S grade car and the off-road inspired Octavia Scout.

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The new Octavia is also available with optional Dynamic Chassis Control. Delve within the individual drive modes and the driver can now change parameters such as the suspension, damping, steering and the responsiveness of the DSG automatic gearbox to suit their individual preferences. Optional sports suspension, lowered by 15mm, and a rough road chassis option providing 15mm additional ground clearance, can also be specified.

New 2020 Skoda Octavia: design and interior

Design wise, the latest Octavia has grown ever so slightly. The hatchback is 19mm longer than before, while the estate is 22mm longer. Both cars are 15mm wider, and practicality grows too. The boot of the hatchback grows to 600 litres, with the Octavia Estate now fielding a 640-litre cargo area.

The design of the new car echoes that of other recent Skoda launches. The front end looks sharper and features LED headlights as standard, but there’s a clear visual nod to the previous generation Octavia, while the rear end changes dramatically. The square taillights have been replaced by thinner, wider LED units while, like the Scala, the badge has been replaced by Skoda lettering on the boot.

While the exterior looks are evolutionary, Skoda’s design team instead majored on transforming the car’s interior. Sitting ahead of the driver is a new two-spoke multifunction steering wheel, while the dashboard has been completely redesigned. There’s a large cubby space ahead of a new gear selector, and a string of rocker switches beneath a new freestanding touchscreen infotainment system, which features a new touch sensitive ‘slider’ function for volume control. Skoda has also updated the 10.25-inch optional digital dashboard dials.

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The interior moves further upmarket with the introduction of new softer touch plastics and chrome trim elements. Massage seats are also available for the first time, as is an optional head-up display and three zone climate control. 

New 2020 Skoda Octavia: technology and safety

Four different centrally-mounted infotainment systems are available. The base setup is an 8.25-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Three ten-inch displays of varying functionality are offered optionally, adding features such as navigation, additional apps, voice control, gesture control and the new slider function on the range-topping Columbus infotainment unit. 

Matrix LED headlights are optional on some models. Safety and driver assistance features swell to include collision avoidance assistance, steering assistance and predictive cruise control, which works alongside updated versions of traffic sign recognition, lane keep assist and traffic jam assist. 

A handful of new safety technologies make their debut on the latest Octavia. Turn assist makes its debut, and uses side cameras to scan the oncoming traffic, cyclists and pedestrians at junctions. If the cameras pick up something the driver has missed, the vehicle will be brought to a standstill. It’s only activated when indicating. Similarly, exit warning technology is now part of the blind spot assist pack, alerting drivers and passengers that it may not be safe to open the door, because of an approaching car, pedestrian or cyclist. 

Collision avoidance assist uses the front cameras to read the road ahead for potential collisions and perform a controlled evasive manoeuvre if the driver doesn’t take avoiding action themselves, and works at speeds up to 90mph. This mode also has a specific function tailored to detecting cyclists. 

As with all Skodas, the brand has kitted the Octavia out with several trademark ‘Simply Clever’ features as standard. Alongside typical touches such as an ice scraper in the fuel filler cap and a convenient ticket holder on the driver’s side A-pillar, the new Octavia features a handy AdBlue nozzle for diesel variants and a new ‘Sleep’ package, consisting of larger, more comfortable headrests for the rear seats, stowed blankets and sun blinds.

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