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While the front is decidedly polarising, the back is a little less so
This is the Czech carmaker Škoda’s new Octavia saloon, and the team at base in Mladá Boleslav evidently worked hard at confusing us a bit with the brand’s new styling language up front. We’re not sure whether to like it or not.
Anyway, the design might be an indication of future Škoda fascias, and this one will be available from early next year with a frugal engine option to begin with.
With a sharper, more streamlined front end, the new Octavia adopts full LED lights in a quad-lamp design. Naturally this being Škoda, it’s the roomiest in class with 73mm of rear legroom and 590 litres of cargo room with the seats up.
For this mid-life update, Škoda also added a new infotainment system featuring capacitive displays with a 9.2in screen available in the top-spec model. New assistance systems include pedestrian safety tech and an optimised park assist feature that now helps to reverse out of spaces.
Customers will be able to spec the optional Dynamic Chassis Control, which allows choices between Comfort, Normal and Sport driving modes, while the petrol engine on offer is a 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbocharged unit serving up 148 horsepower to the front wheels via a seven-speed doubleclutch transmission.
African adventure – The Octavia’s finest hour
The new Octavia comes just in time for Škoda to commemorate the 20th anniversary of its Octavia nameplate. The Czech carmaker has a rallying history going back to the Sixties, but they only entered the top-tier of the sport in 1999 with the first-generation Octavia managing a best finish of fourth at the season finale in Wales. The Czechs kept at it and in 2001 Armin Schwarz gave Škoda Motorsport its first WRC podium with a third at the formidable 1,100km Safari Rally. The German driver’s sole Škoda couldn’t quite match Harri Rovanperä’s second-placed Peugeot 206 WRC or rally-winner Tommi Mäkinen’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI (the Finn drove over a thousand kays through Africa in just under nine hours…), but Schwarz still managed to beat every other Evo out there, and every single Subaru Impreza and Ford Focus RS WRC in the Kenyan savannah.