Skoda Octavia iV hybrid review
The Skoda Octavia iV plug-in hybrid family hatchback is an extremely sensible, practical and cheap-to-run choice
- Practical body shape
- Good value for money
- Decent electric range
- Dull exterior styling
- More comfortable than fun
- Limited trim levels for now
The Skoda Octavia has long been a firm favourite with family-car buyers, thanks to its cavernous interior and boot, along with its excellent value-for-money pricing. These days, it's available with plug-in hybrid power alongside the more established petrol and diesel versions – although it’s currently unavailable to order. There's the standard 'iV' plug-in model that's aimed at slashing your motoring bills – which we're focusing on here – along with a high-performance Octavia iV vRS that's a roomy alternative to the Volkswagen Golf GTE.
Both Skoda Octavia iV models use a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine alongside an electric motor with a 13kWh battery, shared with the Volkswagen Golf e-Hybrid and the aforementioned GTE. The standard model, available in SE Technology and SE L trims, makes 201bhp, while the vRS version produces 242bhp. Even the former is nippy, as it can accelerate from 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds and hit 136mph. Plus, it can drive for over 40 miles on battery power alone.
Several other VW Group models use the same powertrain technology, including the very similar vSEAT Leon e-Hybrid. Yet the two cars are pretty different to drive: the SEAT is sharp and feels sportier, while the Skoda is more comfortable and practical, and better for long motorway trips.
The Skoda's focus on comfort means that while it's not as engaging to drive as the SEAT that it shares technology with, it's more comfortable over potholes and more relaxing to drive. The Octavia’s distinctive two-spoke steering wheel is linked to a light steering rack which helps make low speed manoeuvres effortless. More weight can be added to the steering by flicking the car into ‘Sport’ mode, but there remains very little in terms of feel or feedback.
When running in electric mode, the Octavia is particularly quiet inside and very smooth for both driver and passengers, making it relaxing to spend time in. Skoda claims that the iV can drive for over 40 miles in this mode, but in our experience 27-30 is more realistic. The claimed range is still important, though, as it brings big benefits for company-car users.
The Octavia plug-in hybrid falls into one of the lowest Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax brackets of any new car with a combustion engine – only beaten-out by full-electric models. Its impressive 8% rating matches that of the Mercedes A 250 e as well as a handful of Leon variants, and like these models it's bound to be a very popular choice for business buyers.
The way the Octavia manages its two power sources is effective, too. The Mercedes is perhaps a little slicker in its operation, as well as being more reluctant to use the petrol motor unless necessary, but the Skoda is still smooth in its transition; only when you floor the throttle does the engine ever raise its voice.
Elsewhere, the Octavia iV remains a fantastic family car. It’s hugely spacious in the back, and while the boot is smaller than in the conventional petrol or diesel versions, it’s still a usable size. You have to do without the variable boot floor of other editions, but there’s still 450 litres to play with (versus 600 in the standard hatchback) as well as a small compartment for the charging cables. Those who need more space should look to the Octavia Estate, which is also available in plug-in hybrid guise and offers a roomy 490 litres of boot space.
Speaking of charging, most buyers will top up their Octavia’s batteries at home overnight. With only a 3.6kW on-board charger, the Skoda will trickle from 0-100% in around three and a half hours from a compatible wallbox. All models come with a Mode 2 cable and three-pin plug as standard, too.
The standard Octavia iV is available in SE Technology and SE L trims, so every example comes with dual-zone climate control, 16-inch alloy wheels, a 10-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus a 10.25-inch Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster that can display near-full-screen sat nav maps, as well as other useful information.
SE L upgrades the wheels to 17-inches in diameter, swaps cloth upholstery for Microsuede and adds keyless entry, along with rear privacy glass. For a more sporting experience, the plug-in powertrain is also offered in vRS guise, with a more aggressive body kit, chunky wheels, firmer suspension and larger brakes, but it also costs quite a bit more.
The Octavia iV plug-in hybrid is a very convincing company-car choice, but it also makes a lot of sense to anyone with a short commute. If you plug in at home and make the most of the electric power, it has the potential to be ultra-cheap to run while also being one of the most practical family cars around, with a comfortable ride and lots of in-car technology.
As mentioned, the only real caveat is that Skoda is currently not accepting new orders for the Octavia iV in the UK due to current supply constraints; the manufacturer has confirmed to us that the plug-in hatchback will go on sale again soon, though – possibly in the form of a facelifted model.
If you simply can’t wait, our list of the best hybrid hatchbacks showcases many of the other great options available in this sector of the market.