What are you driving?
The Skoda Octavia in this facelifted third-generation guise is nearing an end, with a new model set to be revealed next month. To help sustain sales right to the end, a special edition, called the Skoda Octavia Soleil, gives buyers plenty of spec at a significant saving.
Name its best bits
With a car of the size of the Skoda Octavia, it is understandable for some buyers to feel hesitant when they hear it has a 1.0-litre engine. Yet in truth, the turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine is more than adequate to enable the roomy Skoda to perform most tasks. The 115hp unit is honest, peppy and feels like it has more than the stated power. The six-speed manual gearbox has a positive feel and, combined with a light clutch pedal, means that even in slow-moving traffic it's no burden to drive. There is a seven-speed automatic transmission available with this engine should you prefer that.
The power output also complements the chassis, with a ride quality that adds to the Octavia's appeal. Its 16-inch 'Velorun' alloy wheels leave plenty of meat on the tyre sidewall to further help bump absorption, yet they aren't too small to detract from the overall styling. Sure, it's not quite an Octavia RS, but neither is it trying to be. This version does get discreet Soleil badges on the front wings but other than that it looks just like any other Octavia.
In all, the added equipment totals €3,000 in value, yet the price walk from the Ambition level Octavia is only €500, so you're effectively saving €2,500, and the standard equipment is good. The full spec of the car includes LED headlights and taillights, electrically folding door mirrors, a half leather interior with heated front seats, a leather multifunction steering wheel and rear privacy glass. Rear parking sensors along with a decent reversing camera are equally welcome, as is the eight-inch Bolero touchscreen infotainment system. With this comes Apple CarPlay and a one-year subscription to Skoda's Care Connect. There is also cruise control and electric windows all-round, in addition to light and rain assist and front seat lumbar adjustment. The only optional extra that was added to this test car was metallic paint.
Anything that bugs you?
Almost nothing at all. When you consider how much car you're getting here for the money, not to mention how well it drives, the Octavia Soleil leaves little cause for complaint. Some may find the interior a little on the dull side, where a little flash of colour with some more vibrant trim inserts wouldn't do any harm.
And why have you given it this rating?
For as long as this current Skoda Octavia has been on sale it has offered buyers considerably more space inside than its rivals and frequently for a price that equals or in some cases undercuts the competition. The addition of this Octavia Soleil spec gives even more value to buyers.
What do the rest of the team think?
If you've more focused on value-for-money than you are having the latest model, the Octavia Soleil will be appealing. It's heaped with equipment at a great price and, though there's a new Octavia around the corner, it's not as if the outgoing model could be called out of date or out-classed by rivals. This is a sensible purchase that should be a satisfying car to own.
Shane O'Donoghue - Editor