The Škoda Octavia, the brand’s multi-million seller around the world, celebrates another remarkable milestone in 2019 – the 60th anniversary of its introduction. Originally designed to bring affordable and high-quality motoring to the audience at a cheap price, the design and engineering philosophies behind the Octavia remain the same today.
Over the years, the Octavia has proved itself to be one of the most adaptable and practical cars on the market. It has set World Land Speed Records and been transformed into a title-winning rally car.
1959-1971 first-generation Octavia
The eighth post-war car to be designed and built at Mladá Boleslav, the Octavia took its name from the latin word for eight – octo. Production began in 1959, with exports to global markets starting shortly after.
In terms of design and engineering, the Octavia featured the same advanced tubular backbone chassis design as its predecessor (the 440/445) but introduced more sophisticated coil spring suspension that transformed the driving experience. Power came from a 1.1-litre four-cylinder engine that developed just 40PS. A modestly more powerful 1.2-litre, 45PS engine arrived later the same year, followed by a range-topping 50PS in March 1960.
By the early 1960s, Škoda’s export drive was in full swing. The Octavia’s combination of elegant looks, robust engineering and fine value made it a hit with buyers, while the availability of a new estate version – complete with split tailgate and 1,050 litre boot –broadened its appeal even further.
The arrival of the rear-engined 1000/1100MB in 1964 marked the end of the road for the first-generation Octavia saloon. However, with its replacement unsuited to an estate car layout, the Octavia estate remained in production at Kvasiny until 1971. Between 1959 and 1971, a total of 360,000 Octavias were produced, including more than 54,000 estate versions.
1996 – 2004: new-generation Octavia Mk1
1,451,636 cars built
An all-new Octavia was one of the cornerstones of Škoda’s ambitious design and engineering programme following its acquisition by the Volkswagen Group in 1991. Within five years, the dream became a reality. Built on an all-new Mlada Bolelsav production line, it signalled the start of Škoda’s re-emergence as a mainstream car maker and proved an instant hit with buyers.
By 2006, the range had already expanded to include an estate version, along with a wide variety of engine and trim options. Škoda’s first vRS model – complete with 180PS engine – arrived in 2001, along with a four-wheel drive estate variant.
2004-2013; Octavia Mk2
2,274,529 cars built
The second-generation Octavia continued its predecessor’s success story. First shown at the Geneva Motor Show in 2004, the Mk2 Octavia arrived with a sleeker design, a bigger cabin and more state-of-the-art technology.
As with the Mk1, the Octavia offered modern tech at a price that couldn’t be beaten. With a line-up featuring direct injection engines, six-speed transmissions and a DSG double-clutch gearbox, the Octavia became a serial award-winner.
Such was the popularity of the second-generation Octavia that Škoda developed plans to create new production facilities around the world. In 2005, production began in Aurangabad in India, with China getting its own production line two years later. A new facility in Kaluga, Russia started building Octavias in 2009, and by 2011, nearly 38 per cent of all Octavia sales worldwide went to countries outside Europe.
2013-present; Octavia Mk3
More than 2,500,000 cars built to date
Today, the third generation Octavia continues to form the backbone of the Škoda model range. The third generation introduced a range of new technical and safety features, along with a new crystalline look and an even more practical cabin. Facelifted in 2017, the Octavia range is now the biggest ever, with a huge range of trim and engine options, including Scout 4×4 models, luxurious L&K variants and vRS performance flagships.
Despite the Octavia’s remarkable development over the years, the 2019 version remains true to the design philosophy that underpinned the 1959 original. It may be bigger, safer and vastly better equipped, but it continues to deliver quality and value for money to customers.
Eight Octavia facts
- In 2018, 388,200 Octavias were sold globally
- In the same year, 17,927 of them were sold in the UK
- The Octavia is the biggest selling model in the UK, accounting for 24 percent of annual sales in 2018
- In the UK, 52 percent of buyers choose the Octavia Hatch, with 48 percent preferring the Estate
- Between 2011- 2017, a UK-built Octavia held the Land Speed Record with a speed of 227.080mph
- Approximately 20 percent of all Octavia models sold in the UK are vRS versions
- The one-millionth third-generation Octavia rolled off the Mladá Boleslav production line in 2016
- The Octavia Estate is the number one car in its fleet segment