Since 1991, when Volkswagen took a stake in Skoda, the Czech company's progress has been incredible. Alongside Audi it is now the most profitable company in the Volkswagen Group with 70% of its production exported worldwide. The Octavia represented
the first of the 'next generation' Skodas. Launched in 1998, the Octavia had a bitty, fragmented product roll out with each product line being introduced as and when it became available. The estate versions were launched months after the hatchbacks, and engine choices appeared and disappeared.
The original range consisted of 1.6 litre cars, in LX 75bhp, GLXi and GLXi Estate 101bhp variants, and 1.8 turbo cars, introduced in October 1999. The 1.8 is the familiar 1.8T turbo unit as seen in the Golf, Passat, Audi A3 and many others, and replaced a normally aspirated 1.8 unit. The 2.0 litre cars were introduced at the same time in GLXi or SLXi trim, hatchback or estate. Three different 1.9 litre diesel engined cars were available. A 64bhp SDi hatch proped up the line-up. The 90bhp GLX TDi in hatchback or estate version followed, and the range topping 110 bhp SLX TDi was similarly available in both body styles. The diesel-engined models proved very popular with UK buyers, with the 90bhp unit selling in the biggest volumes.
In October 2000, a revised range appeared with new Classic, Ambiente, Elegance and Laurin&Klement trim derivations. There were minor interior and exterior styling changes, price reductions and specification improvements. A 1.4-litre entry-level hatch version was introduced and a 150bhp 1.8T petrol 4x4 estate followed in January 2001. In February 2001, a flagship 180bhp 1.8T RS hatch was launched, the first really sporty Skoda. Late 2001 saw the introduction of the 150bhp 4x4 hatch version. In winter 2002, the RS was renamed the vRS and an estate version was made available. A TDI 130 diesel followed in the spring of 2003 and summer 2004 saw the second generation Octavia arrive.