Since the original Skoda Octavia was launched back in 1996, as the old Soviet Bloc disintegrated, the now Volkswagen Audi owned Czech company has sold a whopping 3.7-million examples of its most successful car.
Now in its third generation, it’s become a little bigger, enabling it to slot nicely between the range-topping, longer wheel-based, Superb and the recently introduced Rapid compact family hatchback.
Built on the VW Audi group’s adaptable MQB platform this latest Octavia is aimed at those for whom a Golf is slightly too small, a Passat too large and will appeal to both business and private motorists.
There are 1.2 and 1.4 litre petrol variants or you can opt for a 1.6 litre or 2.0 litre diesel like the one fitted in the high performance vRS hatchback model that lived with me for a week of busy driving that mixed frenetic storm-lashed cross-country dashes with a leisurely run to the coast and the maelstrom of big city traffic.
I managed to get pretty close to the claimed 61.4 mpg combined cycle fuel consumption figures and enjoyed acceleration that could whisk me from 0-62 mph in a nippy 8.1 seconds but I’ll have to take their word for it that a top speed of 144 mph is attainable.
Certainly, the Octavia vRS has long legs, being commendably quiet and smooth running, even when pressing on.
There’s lots of space inside and the boot is exceptionally deep in every dimension, swallowing two pushbikes and their wheels with ease.
As Skoda’s reputation has burgeoned, so its prices have climbed inexorably upwards though, to be fair, the new generation car is even better equipped than its predecessor.
Standard kit on all vRS models now includes Gemini 18-inch anthracite alloy wheels; sports suspension; acoustic rear parking sensors; BI-Xenon headlight’ Bluetooth and DAB; an energy recovery system; dual-zone climate control; hill hold and the ability to select from eco, comfort, sport and custom driving modes while on the road.
That lot will set you back £23,260. Options that included a superior sound system, touch-screen sat-nav and a space saver spare wheel lifted my test car’ sale priced to £24,125.
That’s long way from Skoda’s sub £10,000 models of a couple of decades ago but then the sophistication and quality engineering have come on a long way too.