A former overall winner, the Octavia drops down the pecking order this year. Our drivers found the car much less stable than expected at 60mph, with lots of movement at 70mph and when slowing down from high speeds. It simply didn’t feel like the car we’d towed with and rated so highly in previous years.
We put our concerns to Skoda, who examined the car and found the nearside rear wheel alignment to be out. Skoda returned the car to us and we drove it again, but the Octavia still lacked composure at speed. Skoda tells us the car’s alignment had been corrected as far as possible but still wasn’t 100%, most likely because of an unknown incident (possibly hitting a substantial pothole at speed) prior to being loaned to us for testing.
It shows the importance of correct suspension alignment for towing, and means that if you want to know how well an Octavia in perfect health tows you’ll need to refer to one of our reviews from previous years.
The fact that the Octavia as tested this year doesn’t finish further down the results is testament to the car’s many other strengths. High on the list has to be the remarkably roomy cabin. The driver and front-seat passenger have plenty of room to stretch out, and those in the back seats have far more legroom than in any other lightweight car we’ve tested this year. The huge boot had room for all our holiday luggage, and although a tyre repair kit is standard, a full-size spare is available as an option.
With its 2.0-litre diesel engine, the Octavia performs strongly with or without a caravan in tow. Speed doesn’t hinder fuel efficiency, and the Skoda returned 30.2mpg in our economy test.