In September 1996, five and a half years after joining the Volkswagen Group, ŠKODA AUTO opened one of the most modern car plants in Europe at the time in Mladá Boleslav. Series production of the first modern-generation ŠKODA OCTAVIA marked the beginning of a new era for the Czech carmaker. Development work on the liftback model, which at the time was based on a new platform from the Volkswagen Group, began as early as 1992. Led by Dirk van Braeckel, the design team used CAD technology to create the timelessly modern body.
On 10 September 1997, just over a year after the production launch of the liftback version, ŠKODA presented a design study of the OCTAVIA COMBI at the 57th IAA in Frankfurt am Main. The eye-catching purple vehicle now belongs to the ŠKODA Museum collection in Mladá Boleslav.
Less than six months later, series production of the OCTAVIA COMBI began in February 1998. In the process, ŠKODA set new standards in manufacturing: Produced at what was then the Czech carmaker’s largest pressing plant, the side section of the body was formed in a single piece from deep-drawn sheet metal. The equipment ensured accuracy to a tenth of a millimetre and the weight of the required press mould was 63 tonnes.
The following March, the OCTAVIA COMBI celebrated its world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show, with the first customers taking delivery of their vehicles two months later. The wheelbase of the 4.5-metre-long model was 2,512 mm – the same as the liftback, while the estate was 6 mm longer and 26 mm taller. It weighed only 15 to 30 kg more, depending on the configuration. The elegantly designed rear offered a generous boot capacity of 548 to 1,512 litres.
The Czech car manufacturer’s current bestseller has built on the remarkable success of the first OCTAVIA COMBI model in the company’s history: ŠKODA presented the vehicle with a central tubular frame, longitudinally mounted front engine and rear-wheel drive at the International Engineering Fair in Brno on 11 September 1960. ŠKODA produced the model measuring 4,065 x 1,600 x 1,430 mm from the summer of 1961 to 1971.