I get asked a lot if we, CT, are sponsored by Skoda. After all, we shot an entire series about Miles the High-Mileage Hero, we ran a Kodiaq longtermer for six months, and now, another Skoda has turned up at CT HQ.
So to answer the question, no, we are not sponsored by Skoda. We just really like its cars because they’re good for filming out of, have massive boots for all our gear and are comfortable enough for the many miles we cover up and down the country and also through Europe.
So with that answered, let me talk to you about this Octavia estate which, incidentally is a stop-gap car until our Superb estate is built and joins us for six months of service.
Modern cars are all about angles, big shoulders and road presence, and while most cars in their respective segments look like they could all melt into each other, the Octavia has something about it that makes it cool and stand out a little more. It looks solid, fast and smart, unlike the guy standing next to it…
So yes, I’m a fan of the way the Octavia looks, especially in this ‘Race Blue’ metallic which makes a nice difference from the sea of white and black I see on the roads.
No, the Octavia is not a Level 4 Autonomy-equipped Skoda. What I mean is it’s a car that you can jump into and drive long distances without really thinking.
Everything about driving the Octavia is easy. The controls on the interior fall to hand, the 2.0-litre diesel engine is torquey and requires little need for changing down the gears, and the seats are superb, like the kind you sit in and feel like every part of your body is being supported, from your lower back and love handles to your shoulders.
Now usually, the things that I’ve just described are seen as negatives by people like us. That’s because we want to feel every bump and wrestle the gear lever. But when the car’s loaded up with 100kg of equipment, and after you’ve spent a day filming outdoors, you just want to relax your way home. And this the Octavia does very well.
OK, so the Octavia’s interior helps you relax because everything is German and logically-placed, but when you look at it from this angle, it’s also quite bland looking. There are no quirks, no cool colours and nothing that tells me (apart from the badge) that this is a Skoda, the underdog of the VW world.
I guess it’s a bit like the band Kings Of Leon; they used to put out edgy music with lots of swearing, until a few years ago when they entered the charts, went more mainstream and cut their hair. Like KOL, Skoda has grown up and gained mass appeal, which you can see especially on the inside because everything is safe.
Cool wagons get a lot of love here at CT, and if you know me well, you’ll know that I’ve got a serious thing for them; we do have the 330d touring and I recently bought a 330i Touring for £140, after all.
The great thing about estates/wagons is that they’re practical. Everything fits, most come with roof bars for extra carrying, and most of the time, they look cooler than their saloon counterparts; the Octavia is a case in point.
For us, though, the estate means we’re able to open up the hatch and film out of the back really easily. It also swallows all our gear and four guys without having to Tetris the hell out of of tripods, cameras, lights and lenses.
This very car with optional extras - including 18-inch Alaris wheels, keyless entry and LED lighting inside and out - costs £26,950. For comparison, a BMW 320d SE Touring with a six-speed manual ‘box will set you back £34,000, so as long as you’re not a badge snob and if you can live with a deficit of 40bhp (the Octavia has 150bhp to the BMW’s 190bhp), then I don’t see the point in paying that much more for the BMW.
OK, so the 320d is rear-wheel drive, but it does has an open diff, and in any case, cars like the 3-series and Octavia are used as dependable work horses that should look good, be easy to drive and return good fuel economy - and that’s the Octavia estate to a tee.
So, that’s an intro to the car we’ve been using for the last few weeks before our ‘official’ Skoda Superb estate longtermer arrives for six months, which I can’t wait to show you.