A couple of decades ago, few families had Skoda on their shopping lists. This was a value brand but it wasn't one you'd attach much value to. What changed all of that was this car, the Octavia, launched in 1996 and the model that finally persuaded buyers to take Skoda seriously. It was a conservative, spacious and capable design based on the Volkswagen Golf and over a million were sold before this second generation version arrived in 2004.
This car consolidated its predecessor's success amongst buyers who rather liked the idea of a five-door hatch or estate car bigger than a Golf but slightly smaller than something Mondeo-sized like a Passat. Once they'd taken delivery, they were rarely disappointed. Even as recently as 2008, the Octavia was winning its class in the JD Power Customer Satisfaction survey. By the end of that year however, sales were starting to dwindle, hence the announcement of the facelifted version we're looking at here which sold until the arrival of the MK3 model in the Spring of 2013. Now is a good time to pick up a used MK2 Octavia, so here's what to look for.