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Not bad for 60: New 2020 Skoda Octavia unveiled with hybrid power and hi-tech new cabin

By Paul Connolly

Skoda is celebrating the Octavia’s 60th birthday with an all-new model that’s bigger and more refined than ever.

The new fourth-generation family car will hit showrooms next year with shift-by-wire technology, new engines - including plug-in hybrid power - and a new digital dashboard.

It’s 60 years since the old-style Octavia was first produced by Skoda back in 1959. It was relaunched in 1996 as a thoroughly-modern car bearing the Octavia nameplate.

In fact, taken as a whole, the Octavia is now the Czech manufacturer’s biggest-selling car, shifting 6.5 million units in six decades.

The Octavia is an important car for Skoda, not least because it was an immediate hit in the late 90s, and was probably the car that did most to revive the Skoda brand post its takeover by Volkswagen.

The new model is built upon Volkswagen Group’s latest MQB front-wheel-drive and AWD platform, allowing for the latest VW technologies and a range of new powertrains.

This platform has also allowed the Octavia to grow in size: at a length of 4,689 mm, the hatchback is 19 mm and the Combi (a four-wheel-drive model) 22 mm longer than their third-generation equivalents.

Width has increased by 15 mm and bootspace has swollen, too. The hatchback’s boot is 600-litres, 10-litres bigger than before, while the Combi’s has grown by 30-litres to 64-0-litres and now claims to be the biggest in the segment.

Many of the biggest changes can be found under the bonnet, with Skoda equipping the Octavia with the widest range of powertrains yet.

For the first time, the line-up includes a plug-in hybrid, the Octavia iV, which features a 1.4 TSI petrol engine and a 13kWh electric motor that together deliver a combined power output of 204 PS. The high-voltage lithium-ion battery reportedly gives an all-electric range of up to 34 miles.

Some of the petrol engines are now equipped with innovative mild hybrid technology (they’ll be badged as eTEC variants), while the diesel engines come from the latest EVO generation and emit up to 80 per cent less nitrogen oxide, according to the manufacturer.

The latest version of Skoda’s new design language features, a new front apron and the sharper, narrower new headlights with LED technology for low beam, high beam and daytime running lights as standard are also featured.

Alloy wheels measuring up to 19 inches enhance the look of the various Octavia derivatives, and new paint jobs like Crystal Black, Lava Blue and Titanium Blue add to the external appeal.

It’s the cabin, however, that you’ll notice a bigger difference from the third-generation interior, with a redesigned dashboard, now modular in display and arranged in different levels, featuring a large, free-standing central display.

New soft-touch materials give a more premium look, while new LED ambient lighting adds to the feel of the cabin.

Optional, back-friendly Ergo seats, which amongst other things offer an electric massage function, are available for the first time in a Skoda.

Another first is an optional head-up display that projects key data information such as speed, navigation, detected traffic signs and activated driver assistance systems directly onto the windscreen.

Another innovation is that the Octavia is the first Skoda ever to use “shift-by-wire technology” for operating the DSG (or twin-clutch) transmission. This electronically transmits the driver’s gear selection to the transmission instead of manually.

The car gets “innovative” full LED matrix headlights as an option, allowing the driver to leave the high beam on at all times without dazzling other road users.

A whole range of new safety systems have been installed, including Collision Avoidance Assist, Turn Assist, Exit Warning and the local Traffic Warning function.

Other new features for the Octavia include Area View, Side Assist and Predictive Cruise Control, which – together with the updated version of Traffic Sign Recognition and the further improved Lane Assist, as well as Traffic Jam Assist and Emergency Assist – forms the comprehensive Travel Assist system.

Using Hands-on Detect, this system also checks whether the driver is touching the steering wheel consistently. The car features up to nine airbags.

The new Octavia offers a choice of four infotainment systems with screens measuring from 8.25 to 10 inches, some of which can be operated using gestures or by voice via the Laura Skoda Digital Assistant.

There is no word yet on full UK price and spec, but the current price ranges from around £18.6k for an Octavia Hatch S to £32.4k for a high-powered Octavia Estate vRS Challenge model.

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