The iconic Czech estate car down the years
The genes of the popular estate car date back to the 1960s, but its modern history began in the 1990s. The Octavia Combi made its world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show on 3 March 1998, exactly 25 years ago. Take a look at some of the footage from back then:
The Octavia went on to become Škoda’s best-selling model, with more than 7.1 million units leaving the factory in four generations (1996, 2004, 2012 and 2020), including 2.8 million estate cars (figures for 1998 to 2022). Check out how the popular practical estate version changed over the years.
The robust and safe estate car (awarded four Euro NCAP stars) designed by Dirk van Braeckel with input from Luc Donckerwolke, who also helped design Lamborghinis, was launched in 1998, two years after the liftback’s debut. The estate was given a 20-litre larger boot (548 litres); the exterior dimensions remained the same as on the liftback, only the height was raised by 19 millimetres (1,448).
Read more about how the first modern Octavia Combi was developed.
A modernisation in September 2000 brought a front-end makeover, with the headlights and bumper made slightly more rounded and completely clear optics. The engineers strengthened the B-pillars and reinforced the engine compartment. The car was raised by fitting a modified rear axle. Over 470,000 of the first modern Octavia Combi cars were produced. Production was finally discontinued in November 2010.
The Octavia mark II was first unveiled at the 2004 Geneva Motor Show. Compared to the previous generation, it featured different engines, more modern technology and a more robust body. The massive radiator grille was given a trapezoidal shape and the bumper did not stand out so much from the bodywork. Indicators were added to the rear-view mirrors and the B-pillars were again made slightly larger. The same year, the Škoda Octavia Combi arrived with a boot capacity of 580 litres (1,620 with the rear seats folded down). An all-wheel drive estate (Octavia Combi 4×4) was also launched, and a year after the second generation was rolled out the sporty Octavia RS arrived in both body styles.
2007, brought the debut of the estate’s Scout version, with plastic-covered bumpers, side skirts, sill extensions and bottom covers. Almost 900,000 units of the second-generation Octavia Combi rolled off the production line.
The penultimate generation of the Škoda Octavia and Octavia Combi was revealed to the world on 11 December 2012 at the Škoda factory museum, with series production starting six days later. Its exterior was designed by Jozef Kabaň, who gave it timelessly conservative, angular shapes. The car was built on the new MQB A platform. Its standard boot capacity is 590 litres for the liftback and 610 litres for the estate.
In January 2017, the Czech carmaker unveiled this generation’s updated looks in Vienna. The main new feature was the split headlights, which could be fitted with LED technology. Another innovation was the predictive pedestrian protection system. The rear wheels were set slightly further apart, altering the car’s appearance as well as providing improved handling.
The current generation made its debut in November 2019. The estate version actually came out before the liftback. The fourth-generation Octavia is based on the updated MQB platform, whose key feature is its easier adaptability for electrification. That’s why the Octavia IV is available as a mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid for the first time ever.
The interior has also been completely revamped, with a greater focus on digitalisation than ever before. Jozef Kabaň started the design work, but it was completed by his successor, Oliver Stefani.
The Octavia was created as a modernised reworking of the popular Spartak model, and production began in 1959. The Octavia was very similar to its predecessor, with virtually no changes to the bodywork apart from a few minor details like the front grille and tail lights. But most of the innovations were not on the car’s exterior: it received a new dashboard and a front axle with new coil springs, though the rear axle retained its leaf springs. The car’s superior handling characteristics for its time were thanks to its independent all-wheel suspension. In 1960 the extended Combi version arrived, which soon gained enormous popularity, both at home and abroad. Production began in the summer of the following year. The estate offered a spacious interior and a flat-bottomed boot that could hold from 690 to 1,050 litres of cargo. While the Tudor-bodied version remained in production until 1964, when it was replaced by the even more iconic Skoda 1000 MB, estate car went on until 1971. In spite of several prototype series that never made it into production, it didn’t have a proper successor – until the Forman model came along sixteen years later.