ne of the most successful model series in the automotive world made its debut 20 years ago: In 1996, ŠKODA AUTO presented their Octavia saloon for the first time to international media representatives. Over the following two decades, the ŠKODA Octavia became a worldwide hit and is still the traditional Czech automaker’s best-selling series. The compact model has been instrumental in the successful development of the ŠKODA brand.
The ŠKODA Octavia is celebrating an important milestone. The impressive interim results of the compact bestseller: In the 20 years since the debut of the first ŠKODA Octavia, five million customers around the world have opted for one of the various model versions in the Octavia family. Its unique combination of above-average space, modern engines and safety features at an attractive price was to be the inspiration for all the brand’s later model series and model generations.
Approximately one year after the Czech brand had joined the Volkswagen Group, the development of completely new ŠKODA Octavia model series was underway in 1992. This was based on what was then an entirely new platform, developed at Group level in parallel with the conception of the Octavia. The engineers constructed a robust body structure with the help of modern CAD (Computer Aided Design) technology, while the ŠKODA design team created an equally timeless and unmistakable body shape, at the ŠKODA development centre in Mladá Boleslav led by Chief Designer Dirk van Braeckel.
The developers paid close attention to active and passive safety. In addition to front airbags, the brand offered the then new side airbags for the first time. A very special feature of the new compact was the practical liftback solution: The large rear door of the hatchback model allowed for excellent access to the 528-litre boot, which grew to as much as 1,328 litres by folding the rear seats down.
In 1996, the year the model was first released, customers could choose between two four-cylinder petrol engines and one turbo diesel drivetrain. The entry-level engine was the 1.6 MPI with 55 kW (75 hp), the 1.8 20 V positioned above that brought it to 92 kW (125 hp). The modern turbodiesel direct-injection 1.9 TDI generated an output of 66 kW (90 hp), giving an average fuel consumption of 5.1 litres diesel per 100 kilometres. ŠKODA gradually expanded their engine range by the particularly economical 1.9 SDI with 50 kW (68 hp) and the 1.8 20 V turbo with 110 kW (150 hp).
The first Octavia Combi (estate) celebrated its world premiere in March 1998 at the Geneva Motor Show, and was launched on the market that May. This body version quickly became a bestseller, particularly in Europe. In 1999 Octavia Combi with all-wheel drive made its debut.
The type designation Octavia/Octavia Combi refers to the successful model of the same name, of which ŠKODA produced approximately 364,000 units between 1959 and 1964 in Mladá Boleslav and Kvasiny. The Latin word ‘octavia’ means ‘the eighth’, relating to ŠKODA’s eighth automobile of the ‘modern era’ with independent suspension following the debut of this technology in 1933.
For the new Octavia series, ŠKODA built a new production line in a 37,500-square-metre hall at the Mladá Boleslav plant, followed by a new paint shop processing up to 1,800 vehicles per day. The new production line commenced operations on April 3, 1996. The capacity of the main plant increased by 90,000 units to 350,000 vehicles annually and ŠKODA became the largest industrial company in the Czech Republic.
The last vehicle of the first series event usually rolled off Vrchlabí’s production line in November 2010. From 1996 to 2010, ŠKODA delivered a total of 970,000 saloons and over 470,000 estates to customers worldwide.
The second-generation Octavia continued unabated the success of its predecessor. ŠKODA sold a total of 1.6 million saloons and 900,000 estates between 2004 and 2013. Technologies, such as direct-injection petrol engines, and the direct shift gearbox (DSG) made their debut in the Octavia II.
The third-generation Octavia, an important cornerstone of ŠKODA’s model range, has been running off the production lines since November 2012. At the end of March 2016, the one millionth vehicle of this model generation was produced at ŠKODA’s main production facility in Mladá Boleslav.
The traditional Czech brand has manufactured a total of five million Octavias since the ŠKODA Octavia was first launched in 1996. In addition to Mladá Boleslav, the ŠKODA Octavia is also produced in China, India, Russia and Kazakhstan.