25 Years Of The Škoda Octavia Estate
We are starting to feel old here in DoneDeal HQ especially when we remember on 3 March 1998 when Škoda lifted the curtain on the first Octavia estate of the modern generation at the Geneva International Motor Show. Serial production of this future bestseller had already started a couple of weeks earlier, in February 1998, in a modern production plant in Mladá Boleslav. Over the past 25 years, the legendary model has become one of the most successful station wagons in its category in many countries including Ireland. Some of the traditional strengths of the practical Škoda Octavia estate include an excellent price/performance ratio, a wide variety of assistance systems and a top level of active and passive safety. This was once again confirmed in December 2022 by the most demanding Euro NCAP tests, valid until 2028.
Since 1959, the Octavia range has represented a key cornerstone of the 127-year history of Škoda. The Octavia estate, with a spacious and variable "combination body" offering both the advantages of passenger and light commercial vehicles, was launched on 11 September 1960. With a length of just 4,065 mm, a width of 1,600 mm and a height of 1,430 mm, the Škoda Octavia estate could carry 690 litres of luggage in addition to five passengers, and up to 1,050 litres when occupying two seats. There was also a sleeper arrangement and a number of other practical equipment features. Between 1961 and 1971, 54,100 of these cars left the Kvasiny plant. As a basis for the Octavia, Škoda used the traditional concept with a backbone chassis frame and a front-mounted four-cylinder petrol engine driving the rear wheels. The robust construction combined with a ground clearance of 175 mm has proven itself even in demanding operating conditions.
Another and even more successful chapter began in 1992, shortly after the integration of the Czech car manufacturer into the Volkswagen Group. The newly developed Octavia was the first Škoda based on the Group's A4 chassis platform and the design team led by Dirk van Braeckel was already working in a digital CAD environment. The production of the Škoda Octavia, initially as the hatch model, began in September 1996 in a completely new assembly hall of the Mladá Boleslav plant, one of the most modern in Europe. From September 1997 onwards, around 200 new Octavia estates were produced as part of the pre-production. The so-called zero series had not yet been delivered to customers.
Production started in February shortly before the official world premiere on Tuesday 3 March 1998 at the prestigious Geneva International Motor Show. The first buyers took delivery in May 1998. The four-and-a-half-meter wagon had a wheelbase of 2,512 mm, was six millimetres longer and 26 mm taller than the hatch. The 548 to 1,512 litres of luggage space was among the largest in its class. The timeless elegance of the bodywork scored with experts and customers alike, as evidenced by the Czech National Design Award (1999) - but mainly by sales statistics. In 1998, the estate model accounted for 15 percent of sales of the Octavia model range. In 2001 the percentage increased to 40.5 percent. During its 13-year career, 470,600 cars were built.
From summer 2004, the second generation of the Octavia estate was produced alongside the first modern generation (internally called A4). The purposeful coexistence lasted for six years, as the two cars complemented each other perfectly on the market. The modern shapes of the succeeding Octavia A5 were designed by a team of designers led by Thomas Ingenlath. By 2013, 881,200 customers had opted for the estate, accounting for 33% of global Octavia sales. The third Octavia estate (A6), launched on 7 March 2013, was even more successful. The range expanded to include an Octavia Scout, an outdoor version with an advanced 4×4 drive, automatic transmissions and many other modern features. Between 2012 and 2020, 1,195,500 units of the third generation of the Octavia estate left the Škoda production plants.
Launched in November 2019, the fourth generation is Škoda's first-ever series production model with mild-hybrid e-TEC technology. Škoda also produced a plug-in-hybrid Octavia estate iV and the Octavia estate vRS iV too. The fourth modern generation of the brand’s bestseller surpassed the quarter of a million units delivered to customers. The Škoda Octavia estate has reached more than 2.8 million customers in total over the past quarter of a century. From March 1 to May 17, the story of the Octavia will be recalled by an exhibition at the Škoda Museum in Mladá Boleslav.