Motorcheck Used Car Guide: Skoda Octavia

Years built: 2013 to today

Bodystyles: Five-door hatchback, estate

What is it?

Would you believe me if I told you that the Skoda Octavia is currently the fourth-best selling car in the country right now? It’s true — only the Qashqai, Tucson, and Corolla sell more, and it’s a sales performance that has lifted Skoda way up into the top-ten selling brands in Ireland. Who would have believed that a mere couple of decades ago, when Skoda was just a quirky bargain brand, which apparently had some Volkswagen bits in it? No, the Octavia actually finds more Irish buyers than does the mighty Golf… There’s an all-new Octavia just around the corner, which means this seems like a perfect time to have a look at the outgoing model as a used purchase, and there are some proper bargains to be found.

Which one should I buy?

The Octavia range seems simple at first — merely the choice of hatchback or estate — but actually there’s more to it than that. The engine choice is broad (although there are a couple of obvious outstanding models) and there are also offshoot models such as the Scout and RS.

Actually, the Scout is a pretty good shout, although it’s a rare beast to see on a second hand forecourt. Essentially an Octavia Combi estate with extra ride height and four-wheel drive, it’s actually a surprisingly capable car when the going gets rough, and makes much more sense as a daily driver than most bigger, more expensive, SUVs. Well worth tracking down.

Post-2017 models are facelift cars, and you can tell them apart by the slightly awkward quad-headlight arrangement. Arguably, the older version was the better looking one, but the 2017-on cars came with a more expensive-feeling interior, and upgraded infotainment systems so might well be worth spending the extra on.

Ambition spec is usually enough for most people, but there are some tempting options further up the range such as Sport (which includes some of the most comfortable bucket seats we’ve ever sat on) or the rare Laurin & Klement version, which piles on the luxury items and adds gorgeous, soft, dark-brown leather trim.

Of the engines, the two best options are the 1.0-litre TSI petrol with 115hp, or for long-haul drivers, the 110hp 1.6-litre TDI diesel. The 150hp 2.0-litre diesel is good for a bit of extra refinement, but not worth paying a massive price premium for in terms of performance. Older versions, with the excellent 1.4 TSI turbo petrol engine, are well worth seeking out for a bit of a bargain, and make for very refined (and surprisingly economical) transport.

How much should I spend? Circa €21,000 for a 2017 facelift model, or as little as €7,000 for a 2014 1.6 TDI diesel.

Here’s one we found:

2017 (pre-facelift) Skoda Octavia Combi 1.6 TDI SE estate, SIMI registered dealer main dealer, 61,000km, one owners, €17,475

What goes wrong?

Hardly anything, although there are a couple of things to keep an eye on. Obviously, if you’re buying a diesel, make sure it’s been in to have its emissions-cheating software redone. That software update can, occasionally, result in lumpy running, or poor performance, so it’s a good idea to test a couple of Octavias so that you’re familiar with the way they perform.

Secondly, check the history very, very carefully to see if the car has been previously used as a taxi. Octavias are built tough, so are very popular with taxi operators, but that of course means they often come in for dog’s abuse, and get used hard. Best to find one from a private or company owner if possible, and there are lots on the market, so never be afraid to walk away and try and find a better car.

Anything else?

We did mention the RS model, and it’s a bit of a quietly-styled supercar. It’s based on the same chassis and engines as the mighty VW Golf GTI, so you have a choice of 220hp turbo petrol engine (later upgraded to 230hp, and even 245hp) or a 190hp diesel. Either, especially when coupled with the hugely roomy estate body, makes a tremendously practical performance car. It’ll have reasonable running costs, but can still provide the requisite thrills on a favourite road. Just beware of any that have been through the hands of the boy racer brigade…

And don’t forget: For ultimate peace of mind, whichever Octavia you settle on, make sure you get its background checked out with