KEEPING the Octavia at the top of its game has always been a priority for Skoda, and the latest version sees the company raising the bar by introducing a striking new look, greater technology levels and more creature comforts.

The Octavia has been the backbone of the Skoda line-up since its reintroduction to the range in 1996, and has been the brand’s best-selling model in the UK.

It has been a constant presence during the brand’s development and has evolved into a range that includes sporty vRS models and Scout variants with off-road capability.

Always with one eye on offering one of the best value packages around, Skoda has nevertheless not skimped on the Octavia’s new look.

The front end introduces a wider radiator grille designed to integrate the headlight elements, the light units have been divided to create four distinct shapes, with each one featuring crystalline detailing, and customers can choose all-LED headlights along with adaptive front headlights.

Inside, the redesigned centre console incorporates a range of new-generation infotainment systems, while the heating and ventilation controls have also been updated. A heated steering wheel is available for the first time.

The infotainment systems offered are part of a new generation of devices that feature a one-piece glass facia, starting with the 8.0-inch Bolero unit (S and SE models) and moving up to the Amundsen unit that adds navigation (SE Technology and SE L models).

The range-topping 9.2-inch Columbus navigation provides passengers with a Wi-Fi hotspot and optional LTE module for fast data transfer.

In keeping with the vast majority of car manufacturers, this new Octavia offers state-of-the-art connectivity solutions. Skoda Connect comprises two categories: Infotainment Online services that provide additional information such as weather reports and parking space availability, along with real-time navigation details. Care Connect provides remote access as well as assistance.

Alongside the connectivity stuff, a range of new-generation electronic assistance systems includes trailer assist, front assist with predictive pedestrian protection function, blind spot detect and rear traffic alert are all new to the Octavia.There’s also an enhanced park assist feature that makes lighter work of tricky parking manoeuvres.

When it comes to the choice of engines, there’s something for everyone across a range that comprises four TSI petrol units and three TDI diesels.

Combining strong performance with low consumption, power outputs range from 115PS to 245PS. DSG transmissions with six speeds are available for almost all engines, while those seeking extra traction on loose surfaces can specify all-wheel drive with the 2.0 TDI engine. The 150PS version of the 4x4 model is available in SE L and Laurin & Klement forms, while the more powerful 184PS version is reserved for the Scout and vRS models.

It’s an old favourite of mine that wins my vote. The 2.0-litre diesel, producing 150PS, is in my book the most versatile. It’s no slouch, and should delivery a fuel economy figure of 60mpg-plus, and matched with the DSG transmission provides for a relaxing drive with decent performance on tap.

Whether you are popping out to the supermarket for a big shop or making a long motorway journey, the Octavia seems perfectly suited to the task.

The range consists of five trim grades; S, SE, SE Technology, SE L and Laurin & Klement. All models feature alloy wheels, touchscreen infotainment systems and SmartLink+. LED rear lights, air conditioning, XDS electronic differential lock and automatic post-collision braking system are also fitted on all Octavia models.