Ever since Skoda was taken over by Volkswagen in 1990, its products have progressively improved in quality, while remaining excellent value.
Its core product, and probably the model that appeals most to GPs, is the mid-sized Octavia.
Available as a five-door hatchback or an estate, the Octavia has received an extensive update and now sits on the same chassis platform as the latest VW Golf Mark 7.
With any Skoda, you gain a lot of car for the money and this is even more obviously the case with the new Octavia. It is slightly bigger than its predecessor and has the biggest boot in its class.
Five adults can travel in comfort with plenty of legand headroom. There is also lots of space for oddments. Despite this increase in size, a 100kg decrease in weight helps with handling and fuel economy.
Smart and functional
The styling has been sharpened up, but you could never call the Octavia stylish. It looks smart and functional, which suits its character. I think the estate model looks better balanced. The interior will be very familiar to drivers of other VW models and the quality of materials used is now almost at Golf level.
Clear instrumentation, a neat centre touch screen for the DAB radio and solid switchgear add to the air of efficiency and solidity.
Standard equipment is generous, even in the basic S model. Alloy wheels, climate control, Bluetooth and a USB port are all standard and there is even an ice scraper in the fuel filler cap.
The option list includes sophisticated extras, such as the intelligent parking assistant that steers for you in either parallel or bay spaces. I think the mid-range SE model is best value in the long term.
There are two petrol and two diesel engines to choose from. If you're a high-mileage GP, the diesels will appeal.
The 1.6 litre version looks good on paper, but feels a bit sluggish and my preferred oil burner would be the more powerful 2.0 litre, which gives little away in fuel efficiency.
If you do an average annual mileage, consider the petrol engines. They are quieter and smoother than the diesels and even the 1.2 litre turbo has plenty of get up and go but can still return a 57.6mpg average.
On the road, the Octavia handles neatly, with minimal roll and direct steering. The ride is a bit firm for some tastes and the brakes a little sharp, but I'm trying to be a bit picky here because the Skoda does everything else very well.
However, if like me, you prefer your car to deliver some fun, you might want to take a look at the vRS models, which feature Golf GTI and GTD engines.
Motorway driving is smooth and in town, the compact external dimensions make manoeuvring and parking easy, perfect for the urban GP. If you work in a cold, wet region or a very rural area, Skoda also offers a four-wheel drive variant to keep you going in all conditions.
So why would you buy a more expensive Golf, rather than the roomier, lower-cost Octavia? Both are VW products with identical engines and chassis. Narrowing quality differences make the case for the Skoda a lot stronger with this latest model.
The brand has also been achieving great customer satisfaction feedback. I was impressed by this latest offering from Skoda and feel that it demands serious consideration as an ideal practice and family car.
- Dr Rimmer is a GP in Guildford, Surrey