ŠKODA AUTO embarked on a new era on 3 September 1996. In Mladá Boleslav, one of the most modern car plants in Europe went into operation, while series production of the ŠKODA Octavia, the brand’s most important new model, began there at the same time. Since then, around 7 million units of the four contemporary Octavia generations have been delivered.
The ŠKODA Octavia has played a pivotal role in ŠKODA AUTO’s successful development over recent years. Since series production began 25 years ago, around 7 million customers have opted for the bestseller from Mladá Boleslav. From day one, it has offered outstanding spaciousness, state-of-the-art technology, a high level of safety and excellent value for money. In addition, it has featured innovative technologies in every generation – in the current series, for example, the Octavia iV’s plug-in hybrid drive. Thanks to these qualities, the Octavia set out to become the heart of the brand a quarter of a century ago.
In 1996, ŠKODA AUTO presented its first compact class model after being integrated into the Volkswagen Group. The traditional name Octavia was used as the model designation. Between 1959 and 1971, more than 280,000 units of this legendary model series rolled off the production line, including the Octavia estate. The Latin word ‘octavia’ means ‘the eighth’. The newcomer was the brand’s eighth model after the Second World War and also the eighth ŠKODA model with all-around independent suspension since ŠKODA introduced the concept in 1933. The ‘‘original Octavia’’ was also in great demand beyond the borders of what was then Czechoslovakia and contributed many successes in the 120-year history of ŠKODA motorsport, including the class victory hat-trick at the Monte Carlo Rally from 1961 to 1963, the ŠKODA Octavia’s class victory in the 4,000-mile race from Montreal to Vancouver in Canada in 1962 and at the Shell 4000 Rally in 1963.
The history of the modern Octavia began in 1992, around a year after ŠKODA AUTO had joined the Volkswagen Group when the compact class model was gradually being developed. With the help of computeraided design (CAD) technology, a body with an unmistakable, timeless design was created on the new Group platform – the work of designer Dirk van Braeckel and his team.
At the same time, preparations were underway to build a new production facility in Mladá Boleslav that would enable efficient modular production and the assembly of components and subassemblies delivered just-in-time. The body skeletons travelled along the assembly line on height-adjustable assembly plates, eliminating the need for hanging fixtures from conveyor systems. A new paint shop was added to the assembly line in the 37,500-square-metre, expansively glazed hall. After the grand opening of the facility on 3 September 1996, the production capacity increased by 90,000 to 350,000 vehicles per year.
One of the hallmarks of the practical hatchback was its high level of active and passive safety, including front and side airbags. The generous boot was easily accessible via the large tailgate and offered space for 528 to 1,328 litres of luggage.
In 1996, its opening sales year, customers could choose from two four-cylinder petrol engines (1.6 MPI/55 kW and 1.8 20 V/92 kW) and a turbo diesel – the economical 1.9 TDI had a standard consumption of 5.1 litres of diesel per 100 km and an output of 66 kW. The engine range was gradually expanded to include the top-of-the-range 1.8 20 V Turbo/110 kW. The Octavia estate made its debut in March 1998, and a version with all-wheel drive was added in 1999. By November 2010, more than 973,000 hatchbacks and over 472,000 estates of the first Octavia generation had been produced.
This was followed by the even more successful second generation of the modern ŠKODA Octavia, which went out to customers from 2004 to 2013. In addition to even greater utility, it also offered many technical innovations, such as petrol engines with direct injection and the automatic DSG dual-clutch gearbox. The third generation of the Octavia rolled off the production line between 2012 and 2020, and on 11 November 2019, the Mladá Boleslav-based automaker unveiled the current, fourth generation of its bestseller. Today, ŠKODA AUTO offers the Octavia with the widest range of engines in the history of the model series. The line-up includes saloon and estate body versions with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. In addition to efficient petrol and diesel engines, the range also boasts a wide selection of alternative drive systems, including plug-in hybrid drive and mild hybrid. The amount of interior space has again increased compared to previous generations, and the new Octavia is also safer and offers greater connectivity than ever.
The ŠKODA Octavia enjoys global demand as an established name in its segment. This is also confirmed by numerous awards from renowned trade magazines.