Ian Lamming starts to feel his age in the new Skoda Octavia.
MATURITY issues, I’ve always had them and have lost count of the number of times I’ve been told to grow up or act my age.
What can I say? I’m a boy at heart. But I must admit, if ever there was a car that made me feel like a grown up it’s this one.
I’m not sure why really but Skoda’s new Octavia makes an adult of you. You can feel the stubble sprouting from your chin under its influence, your voice deepen, your shoulders drop as they accept the burden of responsibility.
Octavia itself has matured like a fine wine, or cheese, depending on your taste. The new nose is striking, very modern and eye-catching and in estate form it has bags of presence on the road, especially with its signature LED driving lights.
It’s a sizeable car too, especially on the inside where legroom is generous in the back and the front. The boot is huge, absolutely vast, just the thing for the old pushchair which was making its final way to the charity shop and all the paraphernalia a 12 year old carries to and from school – you could live in his kit bag, it’s that big.
And that’s the thing about new Octavia, it reminds you who’s the daddy, though the tech-savviness of an almost teenager is very much needed to figure out the digital dash.
OMG, this Skoda packs a lot of new technology – and that makes me feel old too. But once my tech-wingman has shown me how to use it I can fully appreciate just how clever it is.
For instance, it comes with a new generation 10.25in virtual cockpit. Using the two bottom arrows on the right-hand side of the steering wheel, you can select a pre-set dashboard layout and configure it to have a host of information on either side of the display.
The SE L First Edition tested also came with the Columbus satellite navigation with 10in touchscreen display, including a touch slider to control the volume by sliding one finger from left to right or navigation zoom using two fingers in a similar manner.
There’s also a choice of colours for the ambient lighting and you can choose a colour for the dashboard and front-door trim, and a different one for your front and rear footwells. Even the reading lights are touch sensitive and the headlight switch is now in the form of buttons which flick between various modes.
Laura, a ‘digital assistant’, provides voice control with a difference. So if you ask her for some Chinese food you will be directed to the nearest restaurant, or you can add songs to your playlist or tell her to warm your feet or cool your face.
Very smart but the Skoda also retains some physically clever features too, such five USB ports for charging and data transfer, in the front and rear and even in the rear-view mirror for charging devices such as dash cams.
There’s a handy umbrella in the driver’s door, a funnel integrated into the lid of the windscreen washer tank to avoid drips, storage space for the retractable cover under the variable boot floor, mobile phone pockets on the backs of the front seats, an ice scraper with tyre tread depth gauge on the fuel filler flap and easy-open cup holders and a parking ticket clip. These features set the Skoda apart.
Also never failing to date is how the Skoda drives. The old friend of a diesel is smooth, strong and 60+ economical, the handling is safe, comfortable and assured. It eats the long school commute for breakfast in the morning and chomps through it again for tea. In between the two it’s the perfect place to while away the day becoming a light and airy mobile office in which to work. Well us adults do have to work.
Strangely, other drivers did try and treat the Skoda like it was being driven by an old duffer with people constantly nipping out in front and being hell bent on overtaking. Not sure why or what that was about – safe to say I was too mature to rise to their bait.
Skoda Octavia Estate
Engine: 2.0 diesel
0-62mph: 10.4 secs
Top speed: 127mph
Combined MPG: 55.4
Transmission: Six-speed manual
CO2 g/km: 118