Here comes the magic moment, the moment when we are talking about the birth of the modern Skoda brand. Whether it was born by C-section or naturally, this remains to be seen in today’s article, where we talk about the legendary Skoda Octavia I.

We’ve talked about the Skoda Octavia II and the Octavia III so far, but we still ignored the genesis: the Skoda Octavia I, where it all began. All under the nose of the Czechs because they were too busy to protest against Piech.

And how did the Skoda Octavia I fare?

Admirably. A true Betty White of the automotive world, the Skoda Octavia I was manufactured from 1996 until 2010. The fact that it came with a mechanical simplicity worthy of 4th grade physics textbooks, the fact that it was as complicated talking to a freshman girl at the club, and the fact that it turned out to be a cheap car to buy and maintain, it made the Skoda Octavia I the favorite chariot of the people who are still queuing up to pay bills because they haven’t heard of the online yet. People who still use the word “grub” when they go shopping for food.


Why is the Skoda Octavia I so bloody good?

  • The strong point of this antique on wheels is its reliability. Built on the newly launched Golf 4 platform, the Octavia I was built like a Nokia 3310. Just as complicated, just as aerodynamic, just as fast (except for the vRS which is worthy of Titus Steel movies).
  • Like Titus Steel, Octavia I remained in the collective mind for it’s legendary image. This car doesn’t break down, primarily because it doesn’t have much to break down to begin with. In other words, an old-fashioned car built to last.
  • A steering wheel, some pedals, a shifter, a bunch of seats and that’s it. A car built to last, a car built to build the lasting image of the Skoda brand. A middle finger pointed at today’s society, based on consumerism. A car that did not even need a factory warranty, as evidenced by the billions of Octavia I that still roam the roads.


Skoda Octavia I Engines


  • 1.4 MPI of 60 or 75 horsepower – Work harder and go for a bigger engine. Suitable for the Fabia, but not the Octavia.
  • 1.6 MPI of 75, 100 and 102 horsepower – An agrarian engine, made out of reinforced concrete, which does not break unless you are very dedicated. Decent for the city, with a consumption of 10L/100 km, this engine goes hand in hand with an LPG installation. Coil packs sometimes fall and may develop an passion for oil, but there are no other major problems.
  • 1.8 MPI of 125 horsepower – An engine much too rare to talk about. Basically it’s a 1.6 MPI that worked a little harder at the gym, that learned a little more at school.
  • 1.8T of 150 or 180 horsepower – The legendary 1.8 TSI, built to this day, has its roots here. Launched in 1996, this fantastic engine has somehow descnded to the Skoda Octavia I. A very powerful engine for this bodywork, you will have great sensations at any speed. Even in reverse. However you should pay attention to the turbo, oil consumption and coilpacks.
  • 2.0 MPI of 116 horsepower – Better known internationally (especially the US) as “2.slow”, this engine sacrifices performance for total reliability. A lazy engine that does not move about too much, being better preserved than many expos at the Ashmolean Museum. In fact, it is better preserved than even her Majesty.


  • 1.9 SDI of 68 horsepower  – The classic 1.9 TDI only without a turbo. Legend has it that the acceleration of this engine is measured by the calendar. Otherwise, an indestructible engine that works with both diesel and cooking oil, oil forgotten in KFC dumpster, Boots Surgical Spirit, Sheppy’s 500 ml Cider or Amy Westney tapes.
  • 1.9 TDI of 90, 100, 108 and 128 horsepower – Basically the engine that put VW, as well as the diesel concept altogether, on the map of Europe. A simple, reliable, economical and fast enough engine. Special mentions for the timeless, classic 90-horsepower ALH engine, which is super reliable, super economical and relatively dynamic. A 1.9 TDI code ALH can have an extra-urban consumption of 3.3L/100 km. That kind of numbers. The only problematic version is the 108-horsepower version, where turbo issues have been reported and engine mounts falling off.

Skoda Octavia I General Issues

  • The interior will begin to creak, fall off and bring its own orchestra of crickets. This is because the Skoda Octavia I was built with the cheapest possible materials, so that it can be as affordable as possible. This Octavia was the first Skoda car launched under the VW license, so it comes from the period when Skoda was really a cheap VW.
  • Rust is another effect of the passage of time. Rust usually starts with wings and sills, but it is important to check everywhere.
  • For snobs who dared to tick the climate control option on Octavia I, their punishment comes in the form of various issues, either compressors or electronics or anything really. It’s not as miserable as the Octavia II, but it’s good to know.
  • I should probably say something about the automatic transmission, but I haven’t seen a Skoda Octavia I with an automatic transmission yet. I’d rather see Boris Johnson naked while enjoying intimate moments with himself, than see an Octavia I with an automatic transmission.


Skoda Octavia I Verdict

A fantastic car for those who want something simple and rugged. Sadly howeer it is not a car with a place in the modern world. It’s so simple that most people will run away from it. Instead it will be appreciated and loved by those people who want something simple and durable. The people who bought the new Octavia I are the same people who bought the Dacia Logan in 2006: pragmatic people who wanted a simple and reliable car. Germans in particular. People who buy their appliances with an extended warranty. People who eat at canteens and who have a shopping bag at home which contains several other shopping bags. People who go to a fishing spot on the weekend to relax. People who go to a barbecue in the mountains on the weekend, with canned beer and a tape recorder.

Would I buy a Skoda Octavia I? Tough one. On one hand, the interior looks too old. On the other hand, the Skoda Octavia I is a car from the days when cars were made with a sense of responsibility. Cars aren’t what they used to be, just like women, young people, discos or surgical spirits.