Skoda Octavia iV. Plug-in hybrid.

    By the time 2030 arrives, you won’t be able to buy a brand new car that’s powered solely by either petrol or diesel. Although in what Mr Johnson calls his "green industrial revolution", certain hybrids will still be allowed. It’s no wonder then, that my inbox is being constantly bombarded by press releases extoling the virtues of the soon to be released plug-in this, and the all-new all-electric that.

     Hybrids, plug-in or otherwise are nothing new of course; they’ve been with us for a while. What do you think Formula1 KERS systems are? And those LMP1 prototype endurance racers, they were battery-electric too. And, come to think of it, so was the Suzuki Swift I drove a few months ago…

    As I write this, I’m waiting for the Skoda’s latest version of their Octavia, to be collected. It’s outside now, I’m charging it up.

    By utilising both parent company VW’s already brilliant 1.4 TSi engine, and an 85kW synchronous electric motor, Skoda’s new Octavia iV is very much what you’d call a hybrid. In this case, it’s of the plug-in variety. It takes about three and half hours to charge the iV’s 13kWh battery from a domestic 3-pin plug (less if you’ve access to an electric car charging point), and once brimmed with electrons, say Skoda, the Octavia iV has a range of approximately 40 miles on electricity alone. It managed my daily and somewhat hilly 8-mile each-way commute easily; I plugged in every other day and barely troubled either the petrol engine or its fuel tank at all.

    You can of course choose to store the battery’s energy at any time, until it’s required – to for instance, cross a congestion zone. Or, you can leave the Octavia its hybrid mode and let it work out how best to use its twin power supplies - you won’t notice any switch between them – and when the battery does eventually run flat, you’ll still be able to carry on regardless on petrol power alone. It’s all very clever. Or should that be Simply Clever? That’s what Skoda used to say.

     Skoda also say that the Octavia’s official WLTP combined mpg figure is somewhere between 282.5 and 188.3. Quite how that was calculated, I’m really not sure. On longer journeys out here in The Far Unlit Unknown that is the Welsh Marches, the Octavia iV’s trip computer told me I was getting something much closer to low 60s mpg. Still, that’s not bad, I suppose, and on trips with fewers hills, bends, and gear changes, I know from experience that’s bound to increase. I’d probably regain a few miles of electric range too – thanks to regenerative braking.

     So what then, of the rest of the Octavia iV?

    Like all recent new Skoda’s the Octavia iV is rather a pleasant, if perhaps not particularly exciting, place to while away the miles. In hybrid form, it does gain a little weight, 135kg to be precise. In addition, because of the battery it does lose some boot-space too (that said the boot is still capacious). Nevertheless, it is brilliantly comfy.  Should you wish, there’s a Sport mode that livens the whole driving experience up a little (while simultaneously munching on the battery), but to be honest the Octavia feels better when left in Normal. It’s been set up for comfort rather than athleticism, and even if all of the controls are nicely weighted and precise in their actions, the Octavia is far better suited to wafting than it is to trying to set any form of lap records.

   Speaking of controls. The Octavia’s touchscreen is significantly less fussy, and altogether more intuitive to use than that of the somewhat similar system found in Volkswagen’s latest Golf. Not only is it clearer, it benefits from actual buttons. Sliders and touchpads may look slick VW, but something you can actually reach out and press is all together more tactile, safer too in my opinion. Skoda, thankfully, have made switching off Lane Assist – surely the most superfluous “driver aid” since the invention of cruise control (I despise it!) all together easier too – funnily enough by fitting… a button.

     Minor niggles and personal preferences aside, you can’t help but be charmed the Octavia iV. Yes, in certain circumstances, it probably doesn’t offer any more real–world economy that a non-hybrid – a diesel may still be better for high milers – but it is by far the simplest and easiest plug-in hybrid I’ve sampled so far.

     If this is the future, there’s nothing to fear.



Skoda Octavia iV L SE Hatch 1.4 TSi 204 PS plug-in hybrid

Engine: 1398cc, 4 Cylinder, 16 Valve, turbocharged petrol

Transmission: 6-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic. Front wheel drive

Electric Motor: 114bhp AC synchronous

Battery: 13kWh

Power: 201 bhp (combined)

Torque:  258 lbft

0-62mph: 7.7 sec

Max Speed: 136 mph

MPG: 282.5 – 188.3 (WLTP combined).

Electric only range: 43 miles

CO2: 22-33g/km

Price: from £33,150 (as tested £34,825).


Many thanks to Clare at Skoda’s UK press office for the loan of the Octavia iV



Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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