Overnight, Czech automaker Skoda have unveiled the newest generation of their popular Octavia. This Mk4 has been redesigned as an all-new version and brings with it a much more comprehensive list of technical features as well as introducing the first plug-in hybrid powertrain to grace the model.
The range will be split between the wagon-bodied Combi and liftback (though, Skoda is erroneously calling it a Hatch) and resolves to continue the Octavia’s streak of being one of the largest and most practical cars in its class, growing more by every measure even over its predecessor while maintaining the Mk3’s 2686mm wheelbase due to its carry-over underpinnings.
That said, the Volkswagen-owned Skoda is very keen to compensate by putting every other aspect of the Octavia under scrutiny, revising or outright replacing what was lacking before but retaining the strengths that have made the model so successful.
As far as its Australian launch window is concerned, Skoda’s third-generation Octavia is by no means left in the dust and should happily sustain us until this new version makes landfall. However, don’t hold your breath expecting that wait to be particularly brief.
Most apparent with the Mk4 Octavia is the exterior, an evolution from the prior design. Skoda should be commended for keeping the car so recognisable despite axing the split headlamp arrangement that brought it so much grief from some critics.
As a result, the front end is now more broadly appealing - if a little generic - but at least there are high-end Matrix LED headlamps on offer, the perks of being a sister company to Audi. However, for better or worse, the rear Skoda emblem has been replaced by generously spaced text of the brand name a’la Volvo.
In spite of its larger footprint overall as well as only a few changes to its side profile being visible, both bodystyles of the new Octavia have slightly reduced drag coefficients over the outgoing cars; handy for reducing fuel economy and emissions levels.
Speaking of which, as the company has previously detailed, the Mk4 debuts with a plug-in hybrid powertrain, a first for the nameplate. A 1.4-litre turbo-petrol supplies primary power and works in concert with an electric motor for a combined 150kW and 350Nm while its 13kWh lithium ion battery can sustain it in fully electric mode for up to 55km when measured against the WLTP cycle.
Each Octavia equipped with a dual-clutch DSG transmission will also receive electrification benefits through an in-built 48-volt architecture and belt-driven starter motor/generator, allowing the mild hybrid system to recoup braking energy and provide assistive power boosts where needed.
Other engines read like VW's list of usual suspects, comprising of TSI and TDI mills which are again called up for duty, now from the VW Group’s improved EVO family. Things kick off with the 1.0-litre and 1.5-litre petrols that supply the bulk of Octavia variants, both turbocharged TSI units generating a respective 81kW/200Nm and 110kW/250Nm.
Moving on up, we find a familiar 2.0-litre TSI that would cater those looking for improved combustion-only performance, capable of delivering 140kW and 320Nm. In due course, Skoda is like to use an uprated tune in their hot vRS variants, possibly exceeding the 180kW outputs currently offered.
For the torque-loving oil burner proponents, there’s also a 2.0-litre TDI that, depending on the variant it’s slotted into, produces either 85kW/300Nm, 110kW/360Nm, or 147kW, 400Nm. At least in Europe, it should also be noted that all Octavias with 2.0-litre engines will also come standard with all-wheel drive while the rest remain decidedly front-driven.
Inside, the car gains a reworked multi-tier dashboard meant to emphasise the airiness of its cabin, punctuated by a new two-spoke steering wheel. In the centre lives a floating infotainment screen that operates alongside the Virtual Cockpit (another crossover feature from Audi) digital instrument cluster.
Elsewhere, ornamentation has been kept to a minimum with most of the HVAC switchgear culled and even the gear lever being replaced by a comparatively puny toggle. Higher-end variants will also receive extras such as ambient interior illumination and a head-up display.