Skoda recently unveiled the new facelifted Octavia range, which is now on sale in the UK. The modern Octavia was first shown to the public in 1996, and went on sale here in the UK in July 1998 – the models sold abroad from 1997 had a different dash, and Skoda UK were keen to wait to import the model until it had the better quality revised dash fitted. Since then, there has been the MK1 facelift in 2000, the MK 2 launched in 2004 and facelifted in 2009, and the new MK3 was launched in 2013. Since that time, well over 5 million have been sold worldwide, making it Skodas most successful model ever. Here, we take a look at the newly facelifted MK 3.
The design modifications made as part of the comprehensive model upgrade give the Octavia a distinctive appearance, characterised in particular by the front section with its wide radiator grille. Additional lighting units within the headlights, with a crystalline look, and wider honeycomb air inlets provide them with more of a presence and create a masculine, dynamic and emotive overall impression. The outer headlights produce the dipped beam and the high beam shines from the inner headlights, tapered towards the radiator grille. Newly developed full-LED headlights are available from the SE trim level upwards.
The side view is characterised by precise and clean-cut lines leading all the way to the rear section. The redesigned rear bumper appears powerful and bold with its subtle contours. The use of LED technology for the rear light cluster lends the characteristic C-shaped tail light the appearance of a homogeneous lighting surface.
As part of the model upgrade, the outer dimensions of the Octavia hatch and Estate have changed slightly. The hatchback has grown in length by 11 mm to 4,670 mm; the estate has grown by 8 mm to 4,667 mm. The rear track is 20 or 30 mm longer, depending on the engine variant. The wheelbase, which remains at 2,686 mm, is unusually long for a vehicle in the compact car segment. From these outer dimensions, Škoda engineers have created an interior where the amount of space for passengers and luggage far exceeds the usual dimensions found in this segment. Occupants enjoy generous, leg-, elbow and headroom in the front and rear. The boot capacity of the hatchback, which has a large tailgate hinged at the roof, is 590 l (1,580 l with the rear seats folded down). In the estate, it is a whopping 610 l, which can be expanded to up to 1,740 l if necessary.
The interior of the revised model impresses not only with its generous dimensions and great clarity, but also with its high-quality materials and new features. The revised multifunction displays are clear and easy to read. The type of information displayed on their screen varies according to the trim level. The air conditioning controls have also been visually refined. The door trims are now available with additional ambient lighting as an option. Slim LED lighting units at the upper edge of the trim strips emit a discreet, atmospheric light which can be set to one of ten different colours.
Adaptive Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) is available for the Octavia as an option from mid-spec SE models. With this system, the way the dampers work is controlled using electrically operated valves. It can be adjusted to three modes, Comfort, Normal and Sport, which can be selected by the driver. DCC also contributes to active safety by automatically switching to Sport mode in dangerous situations to provide greater stability, better tyre grip and shorter braking distances. With Driving Mode Select, the driver can change the steering characteristics, the operation of the DSG transmission, and the settings of other functions. There is a choice of Normal, Eco, Sport and Individual settings, and even a Comfort mode with Dynamic Chassis Control. The individually selected configurations can be saved on the personalisable key, which is available is an option.
Five new features have been added to the range of driver assistance systems for the Octavia as part of the model upgrade. They optimise safety when driving in city traffic, on country roads and on motorways, and provide additional comfort when parking and manoeuvring. The optional Front Assist with City Emergency Brake function also includes Predictive Pedestrian Protection. The system works using radar sensors and now also reacts to pedestrians crossing the road. This function is active between 10 and 60 km/h. Between these speeds, the system performs an emergency stop in the event of an impending collision and helps to prevent an accident or at least drastically reduce the consequences of the accident.
The new Blind Spot Detect feature contributes to safety when changing lanes on multi-lane roads. It can be used between 10 km/h and the top speed. Two radar sensors at the rear monitor traffic coming from behind. If another vehicle rapidly approaches from behind or is in the blind spot, a warning LED light illuminates in the corresponding wing mirror. The radar sensors at the rear are also used by Rear Traffic Alert, another new feature which assists the driver when reversing out of parking spaces or driveways. It detects passing traffic very early on, and warns the driver first visually, then acoustically, and finally with automatic braking if necessary.
The optional Trailer Assist transforms even those with little towing experience into experts. To make use of this feature, the driver has to engage reverse gear and press the park button. The driver then uses the turn-switch for the wing mirrors to set the angle they would like to use for reversing. For guidance, the image on the in-car monitor displays a diagram showing the turning angle of the trailer. The driver then only has to accelerate gently – the system steers the car and trailer automatically at the chosen angle. Manoeuvre Assist, another new feature, offers assistance when reversing without a trailer by braking the vehicle automatically as soon as it detects an obstacle behind it thanks to the rear parking sensors.
The new features supplement the range of driver assistance systems that were already available before the model upgrade. These include the radar-based Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), which maintains the speed selected by the driver and the ideal gap from the vehicle in front, Lane Assist, which warns the driver should the vehicle unintentionally deviate from its lane, the fatigue detection feature Driver Alert, and the proactive occupant protection feature Crew Protect Assist, which initiates safety precautions in the event of an impending collision. In addition, Auto Light Assist, the camera-based Travel Assist with Traffic Sign Recognition, Park Assist and a rear-view camera are also available.
The infotainment systems found in the comprehensively revised Octavia models belong to a new generation. They bring the future of connectivity to the car with completely new functions. Thanks to ŠKODA Connect with the new mobile online services, passengers have the option of being ‘always online’.
There is a choice of four hardware components: the Swing (standard) and Bolero sound systems, and the Amundsen and Columbus navigation infotainment systems. All four systems can be operated intuitively and impress with their fast operation and intelligent functions. The capacitive touchscreens, which come in a high-quality glass design in the Bolero, Amundsen and Columbus systems, react to the lightest touch. Their screen sizes are between 6.5 and 9.2 inches, depending on trim level.
Even the standard Swing sound system is equipped with an SD-card slot, an aux-in and a USB port. Other connectivity features are available as an option, ranging up to the SmartLink+ platform which integrates smartphone apps and brings Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, MirrorLink™ as well as SmartGate to the Octavia. The Bolero sound system has a high-definition 8-inch touchscreen with proximity sensor technology. It can also read out text messages and enables them to be written on the display. The system also integrates a Bluetooth connection, eight speakers and SmartLink+. Voice control is available as an option.
The Amundsen navigation system is based on the Bolero system. In addition, it comes with a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot that allows passengers to surf, stream and send emails using up to eight mobile devices. Maps for navigation can be updated during the device’s lifespan at no extra cost. The Columbus navigation system is at the top of the range (available from the SE trim level upwards), with a 9.2-inch screen, 64-GB flash memory and optional LTE module for a high-speed internet connection.
The ŠKODA Connect mobile online services are a perfect addition to the range of infotainment features. They are divided into two categories: the new Infotainment Online services provide information and entertainment whilst Care Connect services provide driver assistance and remote access to the vehicle.
One highlight in the Infotainment Online portfolio is Online Traffic Information, which transfers live traffic on the chosen route to the Octavia and suggests detours in the case of traffic jams. The Petrol Stations service lists petrol stations (including fuel prices) along the route. The Parking Spaces, News and Weather services provide the customer with customised information.
The Care Connect services support drivers of the upgraded Octavia in many situations. Data is transferred via a SIM card that is permanently installed in the vehicle. The range includes automatic Emergency Call, which comes as standard in Europe from theSE trim level upwards (this may differ in some countries), Breakdown Call, which can, among other things, be used to organise assistance in the case of a breakdown, and the Proactive Service, which can be used to arrange and prepare for a vehicle service appointment.
The driver can also remotely access information about whether the windows and doors are closed as well as the vehicle’s fuel level via the ŠKODA Connect app on their smartphone at any time. It is also possible to send navigation destinations to the car or have the vehicle’s current parking location displayed on your smartphone.
Practical features which increase comfort and everyday usefulness are part of the character of all Škoda models. As part of the model upgrade, numerous additional ‘Simply Clever’ features have been implemented for the Octavia.
For example, there is a new bottle holder on board, the bottom of which is shaped in a way that allows PET bottles to be opened using one hand. In addition, a heated steering wheel, two USB ports in the rear, folding tray tables on the backrests of the front seats and a personalisable key are available. The boot of the Octavia Estate is also equipped with a removable torch, with a battery that recharges while driving.