(More than) 25 years
There are things you encounter in almost every household. For example, a soup pot, a dining room chair, a jar of peanut butter, a washing machine, a Skoda Octavia Combi. That car has been around for 25 years this year. If you talk to the right people, he is suddenly much less mundane than you would think based on his image. As part of 25 years of Octavia Combi, we met two enthusiasts with a first and third generation of the Czech station wagon.
There is a chance that the Skoda Octavia Combi has more fans than there are car enthusiasts. These fans are usually people who are not particularly interested in the phenomenon of ‘car’ and are mainly looking for a practical, reliable and affordable means of transport. The car enthusiast was never the target group for the Skoda Octavia Combi and that has been going well for 25 years. By reaching that anniversary, the Octavia Combi deserves a party. Even car enthusiasts are invited, because there is entertainment for them too. More than enough, even.
First Octavia timeless
Only now, a quarter of a century after the introduction of the first Octavia Combi, do you see how timeless that car is. Not surprising of course, because the sleek bodywork was drawn by the Belgian Dirk van Braeckel, and he knew what he was doing. When the first Octavia was born – in 1996, two years before the first Combi – Skoda had just been swallowed up by the large Volkswagen Group. That brought the Czech brand a wonderful world full of possibilities that it could only dream of until then. Not only a top designer like Van Braeckel, but also the free use of the chassis and technology of top sellers such as the VW Golf and the Audi A3. The confidence in that proven technology and the design art of Van Braeckel and the pleasant pricing of Skoda made the almost unthinkable happen: more and more Dutch people hesitantly took the step and chose a Skoda, a brand that was previously only known for stories about bizarre handling, rust and incomprehensible problems. It can change.
Combi 1,000 euros more than Octavia hatchback
The arrival of the Octavia Combi made the success permanent. The Dutch love a spacious station, especially if it is attractively priced. That was the Skoda Octavia anyway. A Combi only cost a thousand euros more than a hatchback, and for that money you got a trunk that was impressive: a maximum of 1512 liters. The space in that trunk would make the Octavia Combi large, literally and figuratively. In the four generations of the Octavia, the Combi would always remain the top seller and although technology, safety and infotainment would make great strides, the trunk remained a constant factor. It has simply always remained large.
A look at the sales figures of the Octavia paints the picture of a successful life. Okay, in 1997 the Netherlands and the Octavia still had to get used to each other, with fewer than four hundred units sold, but in the year of the Combi’s birth, sales had almost tripled. This upward trend would continue almost unabated until 2014, the year in which Skoda managed to sell no fewer than 13,913 third-generation Octavias. The Combi had been by far the most popular Octavia for years. The engine range grew along with the sales figures. Initially, customers could choose between a 1.6 or 1.8 turbo petrol, or the early incarnation of VW’s TDI diesel. In the peak year of 2014, consumers already had to choose from four TSI petrol engines and two diesels, not to mention the dozens of versions that were linked to them.
Family or lease driver: the Octavia was for everyone. Still, by the way, because the fourth, most recent generation still offers something for everyone. Although the Octavia is no longer available as a diesel, you can opt for a Plug-in Hybrid or Mild Hybrid. And although it is clear that the current fourth generation Octavia is having a hard time among the violence of all the SUVs and crossovers – including from our own stable – the Octavia Combi is still a great car, with still a huge trunk.
Dennis Verhulst drives an RS: “also fun for dad”
You don’t even have to ask Dennis Verhulst (38) anything. These Octavia Combi – from 2016, so of the third generation – are not your average gray lease box, you can immediately see that. It is an RS, a black one with the Black Pack, which also makes all kinds of details dangerously black, and with dangerous red brake calipers behind the enormous 19-inch RS rims. Not without pride, Dennis says that he has had his already not childish Skoda chip-tuned, so that it now vomits 326 hp over its poor front tires. “They last about a year,” Dennis concludes.
Dennis is a car enthusiast through and through
He is a car enthusiast through and through who already owned a lot of special things. From an Alfa Romeo 33 to a Nissan 100 NX, from a Hyundai Coupé to a Japanese Toyota Starlet Glanza. Audio, horsepower and speed, that’s where his passion lies. But Dennis also grew older and wiser and had a family. His daughter Ylana was born with an intellectual and physical disability, which makes it difficult for her to walk, is often in a wheelchair and also has to regularly – sometimes quickly – go to the hospital in Amsterdam, quite a journey from Bergen op Zoom, where the Verhulst family lives. . All those things became important considerations when a new family car came up. “I of course already knew that Skoda was known for space,” says Dennis. “Now I sound a bit like a sales brochure, but that’s how it is. A Golf Variant is not more spacious, but costs a lot more. That doesn’t really make any sense.”
The Octavia Combi is the ideal car for the Verhulst family, says Dennis. “Despite her disability, my daughter can easily get in and her wheelchair fits in without us having to fold it. That makes all the difference, especially when we have to go to the hospital quickly. That’s why I had the car chipped. Not so much for the horsepower, but because we can go considerably further on a tank of petrol.” Daughter Ylana herself (11) is also very pleased with the Octavia. “He is very relaxed,” is her opinion. “I can easily get in, and when dad accelerates I feel like Max Verstappen. Then I feel butterflies in my stomach.” Because yes, accelerating, that is a temptation that Dennis cannot always resist. “Of course I didn’t choose an RS for nothing. This was in Germany, but when I saw it I immediately thought: yes! It cost serious money, but has all the options I wanted. When you get in it is an experience, the power is fantastic and the rumble in the exhaust is even more beautiful. Yes, this is a family car and yes, we bought it primarily for Ylana. But it should also be fun for dad.”
Gijs Brands drives the first Octavia Combi 1.8T: “Heck of a motorcycle”
A beautiful Octavia Combi of the first generation, of which Gijs Brands (41) is the happy owner. There is no evidence that his Octavia 1.8T is now nineteen years old and has run four tons. As a mechanic, Gijs keeps his Skoda in top condition. And he doesn’t drive it without reason: “I transport a lot of stuff, so I’ve always driven something big. My father has lived in the Czech Republic for 26 years, so I regularly drive there and often take a lot with me. I also met my wife in the Czech Republic. Her family still lives there, so we come there more often now and take even more with us. So my car must be spacious and reliable, but also affordable. That was a reason to choose an Octavia Combi. I also specifically wanted the 1.8T, which is a hell of an engine. And I like to drive something that someone else doesn’t have. I used to have a Skoda 120 LS Coupé. That made my heart beat faster, I should never have sold it.”
Gijs also had his Octavia chip-tuned, and he also hoped to achieve better fuel economy. With success, he says. “Even at 150 on the autobahn I still get 1 out of 12. Those extra horsepower are also really nice. I now have 230. Not to whine or whine, but just to make it easy to overtake. That makes it a very nice car.” He has been enjoying his Octavia Combi for eleven years now, and he has no plans to get rid of it yet. Certainly, he thinks Dennis’ RS is cool, but he also thinks that the DSG automatic detracts from the experience. “Manual transmission drives better, and it is also better for fuel consumption.” Gijs is also clear about the new Octavia: “It is a beautiful car, but it has far too much digital stuff on it. I’m still happy with my old Octavia. Especially when I drive through the mountains in the Czech Republic. Then it is so beautiful that I really don’t need a new one.”
The one from 1998 was not the first Octavia Combi at all
The first Octavia Combi in 1998? “Yes, come on!” we already hear the experts thinking. And they are right, because already in 1959 there was a Skoda Octavia. That was the successor to the 440 series, which received a major update and became the eighth Skoda model ever. So Octavia. That car was also available as a Combi, with a 1.2-liter engine under the hood. Bigger than the new Octavia, but while the engine of the newest member produces 110 hp, the old one had to make do with a paltry 45 hp. Other times, when the Octavia Combi was just as popular. The last one only rolled off the production line in 1971, exactly 25 years before Skoda would dust off the name ‘Octavia’ for a series of successes that continues to this day.
– Thanks for information from Autoweek.nl