Skoda sent a hatchback rather than last year’s estate model to defend its class win, but it made little difference to the result.
Yes, the hatchback has a little less luggage space than the estate, but the boot is huge compared with most rivals’. Our practicality test team found space for all but one item from our load of typical holiday luggage.
There’s lots of space for passengers, too, with enough legroom for a tall adult to sit behind a long-limbed driver.
But we’re getting away from the most important point, which is that the Octavia makes an extremely fine tow car.
First and foremost, it’s stable at speed. Our testers were happy to take the Octavia up to the legal limit and beyond, and the car quickly recovered from any short, sharp steering inputs.
It handled the lane-change test reasonably well, too, completing the manoeuvre on the third and fastest run. However, the caravan was swaying and starting to pull hard at the back of the car.
If you need to stop in a hurry rather than swerve you’ll find the Octavia’s brakes reassuringly powerful. The car took just 10.8 metres to stop from 30mph on a dry track.
The 2.0-litre diesel engine can comfortably handle a suitably matched tourer. The 30-60mph time of 10.7 seconds is testament to the engine’s 251lb ft of pulling power.
It made short work of towing car and caravan to the top of a 1-in-6 slope, too. The engine can grumble a bit under load, but it settles down once cruising.
Without the weight of a caravan on the back the Octavia accelerates briskly. It tackles corners neatly, too, although the ride is on the firm side – especially on the optional 18-inch alloys fitted to our test car.
The Octavia is good value, and What Car?‘s Target Price team has found that big discounts are there for the asking.