How refreshing: an honest, old-style estate car to review.
So many of the new cars launched these days are SUVs, Mini-SUVs, Crossovers and the like, most of which are lovely, reliable and comfortable. They frequently pretend to offer you access to a new life of beautiful people and a world with zillions of cup-holders, storage bins and the optical illusion of being able to traverse rocky roads.
All this and still have the ability to return over 50 mpg (possible – maybe – if you rip out all the seats, majority of the weighty electronic systems, and happen to have a test facility at the back of the house). The world seems to have gone crazy for the pumped-up large hatchback on four big wheels, and it has overlooked the traditional estate car.
So, as you may have gathered, I was quite happy to have the keys to the 2018 Skoda Octavia Estate for a few days. No, I do not own a pair of sandals, spend the weekends at Model Railway clubs or take lawnmowers apart for fun. I do, however, like the convenience of a good-sized car with a large flat load space in which to place the detritus the children seem to want shipped with them wherever we go.
But the main benefits of an estate over an SUV Crossover are that if you get a good pokey diesel (boo – hiss, I hear the green lobby cry), you can enjoy an enthusiastic drive without the fear of falling over when the road bends and enjoy fewer trips to the pumps.
Skoda really are a premium product now and often overlooked, due to the existing, but thankfully declining, badge snobs. The Skoda is well-proportioned and even looks good stationary. Step in – not climb in – and it is not exactly shabby either.
As it is owned by VW/Audi, it shares many parts and therefore sitting behind the wheel is no chore. The seats are good, the dials and layout are great, as is the excellent sat nav and audio system. Step out, open the tailgate and see how much of an IKEA store (other lifestyle shops are available) you can fit in the back. I’ll bet, with the rear seats down, you could easily install a couple of student flats.
OK. So it has a high score for practicality, but is it good to drive? Most definitely. It feels narrow and is easy to thread through traffic. I had the 2–litre diesel engine, which produces 150bhp, and I really think it is well-suited to the car and the one to go for.
You can have a 1.2 TSi (petrol) or a snorty 245bhp VRS if you wish to scare yourself. But judging by the way my review car pulled through the gears and handled bends and roundabouts, I would look no further.
I could bore you with details of upholstery trim and options – let’s just say it has many options and the driver would have to be supremely picky to feel their needs were not being met. And while we all think SUVs and Crossovers are the flag-bearers for safety, pretty much every estate car has the same number of airbags and crash avoidance-systems.
So let’s hear it for the estate car: and if you want a good one, go and check out an Octavia.
With thanks to Westover Skoda, Salisbury 01722 428300
Car Tested: Skoda Octavia Estate
2.0 TDi SE 150 (£22,530)
Price Range: £17,195 -£30,100
Emissions: (90 – 142 g/km)