It’s hard to overstate the importance of the Skoda Octavia for the Czech firm.
It’s the company’s best-seller and the estate was Europe’s highest-selling wagon in 2012.
Skoda chief executive Winfried Vahland told Fleet News: “The Octavia estate sums up what we are achieving at Skoda.
"It’s bigger, better and more stylish and puts Skoda at the heart of this sector.”
The estate’s wheelbase has been lengthened by 108mm over the previous model to shake off that feeling of being a big car based on a small hatch.
It’s also 90mm longer and 45mm wider, creating a 610-litre boot or 1,740 litres of cargo space with the seats folded flat, 85 litres more than before.
Skoda has lowered the load sill height by 6mm and enlarged the tailgate opening by 9mm in width and height.
The boot floor has two height settings or can be used to divide the boot into separate compartments.
Remote levers similar to the Mazda6’s release and fold the 60/40 split-and-tip rear seat, while a folding front passenger seat tips forward to sit flat and flush with the rears to offer a maximum load length of 2,920mm.
The Octavia estate’s cabin has plenty of room front and rear and it comes in the same S, SE and Elegance trims as the hatch model, while it is also available as an all-wheel drive 4x4 model.
The Octavia estate 4x4 is limited to SE trim with a choice of 1.6 or 2.0-litre turbodiesel engines.
The 1.6 TDI 4x4 offers 122g/km of CO2 emissions and 60.1mpg.
Choose the punchier 2.0-litre diesel and the 4x4 delivers 57.6mpg and 124g/km.
The diesels form the main interest for company drivers, but the Octavia is also available with 1.2 and 1.4-litre TSI turbo petrol engines with 104 and 138bhp.
We tried both and they are able and willing, but the diesels are the pick of the bunch.
The 99g/km 1.6 diesel feels smoother than the 2.0-litre, though the larger engine is better for towing or carrying heavy items regularly.
The Octavia estate has the same excellent comfort and handling as the hatch.
Our test cars were equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels that gave a slightly firm edge to the ride, but the standard 16-inch alloys of the SE model should deliver supple and controlled drive on UK roads.