A quarter of a century is a milestone worth celebrating even if we didn’t get to taste the birthday cake. All the way back in 1997 – and yes, that does make us feel old – the Frankfurt Motor Show saw the unveiling of a concept car that would enter production within six months. This was the birth of the Skoda Octavia Estate, and 25 years on it’s still a great choice for anyone looking to lease a practical car.
The first estate version of the Skoda Octavia actually appeared in 1961 and was in production until 1971 when it was phased out of the line-up. The Octavia estate had proven its worth but for some reason Skoda decided to replace it with a rear-engined model and there isn’t much room for that spacious boot when the engine is back there.
The first modern-era Octavia estate was based on the existing hatchback version but despite having the same wheelbase it was longer and taller. Regardless of the increase in size, the estate version weighed just 15kg more than the hatch so you had all that extra space in a car that was just as easy to drive and, as near as makes no difference, just as economical as a hatchback.
Although that 1997 version was presented as a concept, the truth was it was already pretty much production ready. With hindsight that turned out to be an excellent decision because demand went through the roof. It’s a good job VW had invested in a shiny new production facility for Skoda to keep up.
When right-hand drive versions finally arrived in the UK in 1998 the initial range consisted of 1.6-litre petrol versions in a simple two-model trim structure. That didn’t last long though.
A 1.8-litre turbo engine was added to the range in 1999, along with the diesel options. The line-up was also soon revised and in 2000 new trim names; Classic, Ambiente, Elegance and Laurin & Klement began to appear, alongside a new engine range.
In 2001, the first Octavia vRS model arrived
The performance model was powered by a 180bhp, 1.8-litre turbocharged engine. This was Skoda’s first performance production model since the late 1970s and it proved a huge hit, especially in estate form. This laid the foundations for the current vRS versions, and if you’re not already aware, they are absolutely brilliant.
More than 166,000 Octavia estates have found a home with UK drivers since 1998 and it’s easy to understand why.
The current, fourth-generation model has won eight titles since its introduction in 2020, including Auto Express Best Estate Car, UK Car of the Year (Estate category), Scottish Car of the Year (Estate category) and Carbuyer Best Car (Estate category). If you had any doubts that should be enough to ease them.
The Skoda Octavia Estate comes in many different flavours now. Four trim levels ensure you’ll find the right model to suit your budget and requirements, with even the entry-level SE trim providing a comfortable and well-equipped interior.
Choose the SE trim and you get to decide between two petrol engines – a 1.0-litre or a 1.5-litre – and a mild-hybrid version for a little extra economy. Move up to the SE Technology or SE L trim and you can add a couple of 2.0-litre diesels to your list as well as the incredibly popular Plug-in Hybrid option. If you decide you really want the performance of the vRS you still get to choose between a 200bhp diesel, a 245bhp petrol, or the 1.4-litre mild-hybrid that churns out 245bhp but does so on a miserly 223mpg and with emissions of just 29g/km.
If we’re being totally honest, you’d have to be mildly deranged to be considering leasing an estate car and not have the Skoda Octavia on your list. Luckily, we know all of our lease customers are perfectly sane and sensible people so we’ll be waiting for your call to arrange the lease of your brand-new car.
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