We awarded the Skoda Octavia iV, our Plug-In Car of the Year award for 2021 & for good reason. The Octavia is a well kept secret. Competing in the same class as the Golf & Seat Leon, it features pretty much the same drive train as both, but, with a hatchback or estate version, is a far more practical proposition. Add in the extra touches that Skoda gives it’s customers, such as an umbrella in the door & an ice scraper tucked away inside the fuel cap & the Octavia is super-family-friendly.
The iV features a 1.4-litre petrol four-cylinder turbo, engine that’s paired to a 113bhp electric motor & 13kWh battery. There’s a six-speed DSG gear box with 204PS on offer, 0-62mph takes just 7.9 seconds & maximum speed is 136mph.
Explaining the iV plug-in-hybrid
The Octavia iV is a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). This means that it features an electric battery that can be charged up, so that the car can be driven on electric power for a number of miles, up to 37 in the iV’s case, before a combustion engine takes over. A PHEV works best, if you can save your battery range for driving at lower speeds, as once you drive over 50mph, the battery runs down more quickly. As with most PHEV’s, the iV allows you to hold the battery charge, a simple enough task using the cars touchscreen menu.
This is claimed on the WLTP cycle, to be an eye watering 188.3-256.8mpg. If you plug-in daily & never drive above 50mph, only travel 25-30 miles day, with no motorway driving whatsoever, then feasibly, something north of 150mpg is possible.
This sadly, is not me. With family located 170 miles north of where we live in Newcastle & 200 miles south of us in London, I am a regular motorway user & even driving at a constant 70mph, on a long motorway journey, you’ll see the mpg drop down to a more realistic 50mpg. To make the most of it’s range, if you plug-in the iV regularly & mix the odd long journey, with mostly local driving, then as we discovered, 80mpg is achievable, which is a very nice return indeed.
Spec & build quality
The latest Octavia is a big improvement over the old model. Inside, everything higher up has a premium look to it, although lower down, for example, on the door pockets & around the centre binnacle, the quality drops somewhat.
A quick look at the standard iV SE L spec, shows that you’ll not want for much if you select one; 18″ Vega AERO alloys, 5 USB C ports, 8 speakers, Adaptive Cruise Control with follow to stop, Columbus SatNav with 10″ touchscreen, keyless entry, StartStop, rear privacy glass, a Virtual 10.25″ Cockpit, Smartlink for Android Auto & wireless Smartlink for AppleCarPlay, the list goes on.
As with all Octavia’s, both front & rear seat occupants have lots of head & legroom. Cabin storage though is only adequate. For example, neither of the centre binnacle drinks holders are large enough for a medium sized water bottle & the between front seats lift-up armrest storage, isn’t deep enough to hold much at all.
On the plus side, you do though get a storage compartment in the front doors with a hidden umbrella & a waste bin in the door trim, both clever touches.
Rear seat passengers benefit from smartphone storage pockets on the front seat backs & a tablet holder on the headrests that also works with for the rear armrest, so that’s a bonus.
With the rear seats in place, it’s total of 490 litres up to the shelf, is actually 120 litres less than the petrol or diesel Octavia estate. If you compare it to other similarly-sized plug-in hybrid estate cars, such as the BMW 330e Touring with 410 litres, or KIA Ceed Sportswagon PHEV with 437 litres, it’s still pretty generous. The Peugeot 508 PHEV SW with 530 litres, does offer more. You do get 1,555 litres with the rear seats folded, which was plenty big enough for my bike to fit in.
Annoyingly, there’s no cabin 12v socket, instead there’s one in the boot, which was perfect for me to inflate my bike tyres with.
And, to keep your shopping upright, there are four bag hooks, two on each side, which also come in handy. The boot floor is also flat & there’s a compartment underneath, to stow the two charging cables.
Company car drivers
The iV sits alongside conventional petrol & diesel models in the Octavia range & offers most appeal to company car drivers. Why ? For a start, the plug-in Octavia’s are expensive, with our test car, the SE L estate, setting you back £34,230. Opt for the similarly powered 1.5 TSI e-TEC 150PS DSG ACT petrol Octavia & it’s a much more affordable £28.910.
Factor in the iV’s 24-33g/km of CO2 emissions, attracting only 7% BIK from April 2021 & the e-Tec, a much higher 28% of BIK, that should further convince you.
Tech in the cab
The 10.25″ touchscreen display, comes with a crisp display & rapid response. The infotainment system as a whole whilst looking the part, does contain too many sub-menus, which can be distracting whilst on the move.
Whilst we seamlessly connected to Apple Car Play, utilising AppleCar Play for Google Maps, it’s worth mentioning that the Columbus system SatNav on the Octavia, is one of the best we’ve encountered.
The Volkswagen Group have set their stall out by fitting their latest models with USB type C ports, which means, that even with five inputs in the Octavia, you’ll need to buy several converters.
Charging & App
Utilising our 7.2kWh Rolec home charger, meant that charging the battery to full from empty, took us approximately 90 minutes. This we found, will give you around 25 miles of pure electric driving, enough for a couple of days worth of short, local trips. When the battery runs out, the petrol engine steps in.
If you download the Skoda App, then you can pre programme your iV to charge when cheaper electricity tariffs are on offer. We use Octopus Go, so it only costs 5p a kWh, to charge your car between 00.30 am & 04.30 am. Unfortunately, you need both cars keys to set up the App & as a journalist, we weren’t able to do this, as we only get the one key.
There are four driving modes; Eco, Normal, Sport & Individual with each being self explanatory. Plus two power modes; E & Hybrid
From start, the Superb defaults to E-mode & this is great for short, local driving. Head out onto a motorway though & you’ll want to switch to Hybrid mode, much better for faster travel as you’ll want to keep that battery range for later.
There’s also an automatic braking regenerative system, that’s connected to the camera & GPS. EV’s & PHEV’s feature some kind of ‘regen,’ but in the Skoda’s case, the car takes care of this for you, by adjusting the strength of the ‘regen’ based on how quickly you’re approaching a junction or roundabout. However, there’s no battery save button, so instead, you have to enter the Drive mode menu, where you can set a battery save level. I can’t help but think, that a Battery Save button would make more sense ?
On the road
When you’re out & about, you’ll notice that the power dial on the digital display, flashes around into the tachometer section, which is the only clue that you’re in a hybrid. On the motorway, the seemingly too small 1.4 TSI petrol engine does an excellent job, as long as you don’t have to slow down, wherein a lack of torque, means the iV takes a while to get going again. This though, is not a problem in town, where the battery & petrol engine work in harmony. Indeed, the iV is very quiet, with any electric journey undertaken in near silence. E-mode is only interrupted by outside tyre & wind noise.
On more challenging roads, you may notice that the iV feels a little cumbersome around corners, which is no surprise as it’s heavier than the traditional combustion Octavia’s. The suspension though, is excellent, doing a really good job of soaking up any road imperfections.
In the words of Mary Poppins, it’s ” practically perfect in every way. ” Spacious, comfortable, well equipped, frugal, easy to live with.
For the fleet sector the brilliant 7% BIK is a deal clincher. And with a real world motorway economy of 50mpg, coupled to an achievable 80mpg, when you take into account local journey’s & choosing one is even more compelling.
The iV is expensive to buy , so it’s really better taken as a company car & not as a retail offering. The twin cup holders up front are too small. Some of the plastics on board are a little cheap. And, the interior, although we like it, is a bit generic in that Volkswagen-Group way.
It’s very hard to fault the Octavia iV. Suffice to say, if you’re not a car brand snob, then choosing one as your next company car would be a very good decision indeed. Until we have to go full-electric, the Octavia iV is great entry into the world of PHEV’s. Just plug it in, whenever & wherever you can.