2003 Skoda Octavia Classic 1.9 turbo diesel


Solid car


Faulty brake light switch.

Battery + alternator and pulley.

Water pump + timing belt.

Brakes and suspension all round, centre and back exhaust replaced.

Basically general wear and tear and all oil changes done at around 10,000 mile intervals. The door handles felt very loose at the end of its life, but they did get a lot of use.

General Comments:

This must be one of the most reliable cars ever made and it's no wonder that here in the UK you see lots of them as taxis. I bought this one for myself to use privately, not to be taxied. It was an estate Octavia in silver, nothing fancy, but I thought it looked OK, especially once I replaced the dull wheel trims with alloys. Very comfortable seats and the rear luggage space is huge, but try going for an Elegance model - the Classic spec should be avoided to be honest - the interior is pretty dull and it has wind up windows - pretty bad for a 2003 car; even some middle of the road Ford's I had in the 1990s at least had electric windows.

The 90 horse power diesel engine is adequate for everyday driving, but it is not a fast car. But considering you get over 50 MPG on average, you buy this type of car for economy, not to race, and just as well because the cost of some repairs were a bit expensive for a Skoda I thought, but it more than returns that with good fuel economy and general solid reliability. The above "Faults" mentioned I would say is mostly wear and tear expected of age and mileage, and was all carried out at MOTs and services, so it never left me stranded by the side of the road.

My previous VW Passat felt a little more nice and refined inside, but the Skoda was on par with that car's ability and reliability, which is interesting as VW were apparently above market in comparison to Skoda. I would love either car again, and only sold this one on because let's face it, after over 200,000 miles it was not going to last forever. I have since replaced it with the more modern Octavia from 2005 onwards, which I hope will prove just as reliable as the old one. But I and many others will always remember the Skoda Octavia (98 - 04) model as being one of the toughest cars ever made.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th January, 2018

2003 Skoda Octavia Elegance TDI 1.9 turbo diesel


Taxi driver's favorite


New brake light switch, alternator, minor cosmetic rust on rear arch. Nothing else except items I would consider consumables for age and mileage - timing belt, servicing, brakes and suspension parts.

General Comments:

A very popular sight on the road, the Octavia is well known in the UK as a taxi, and therefore it makes sense as an every day car for personal use. The Elegance model is near the top of the range and has electrics all round and air con, which still works ice cold after 13 years. Alloy wheels makes this one stand out; most taxis are lower spec models with wheel trims, which are kind of dull, but it's amazing what the right color and a nice set of wheels do to an otherwise ordinary car.

The 1.9 TDI engine performs just fine. I have the 110 HP version - most Octavia's you will see are the 90 HP engine, which is still a great engine, but performance is no more than adequate. Definitely get the 110 TDI if you can, it does the same MPG as the 90 (55 MPG average) with a bit more performance. Heard there's even a 130HP version. No sports car, but when the turbo kicks in I've had no problems overtaking... :)

The car handles like any predictable front wheel drive car, gear change is slick and the brakes feel tight. Ride is smooth enough though it is a little noisy in the cabin with that diesel engine, however at motorway speeds all you hear is a light hum in the background. Wind noise is louder than most cars I've had though, which I find strange as the car looks aerodynamic enough as any car from this time period; makes you wonder where it's coming from.

The interior is dull and full of grey plastic, but it is all functional and the sunroof brightens things up on a sunny day. Boot space is huge, but I've had bigger more comfortable cars - this one feels slightly small, with a stupidly designed armrest that you can barely pull the handbrake on if it's set in the down position, and that is my only complaint, but if you are looking for a good reliable car with the same spec and performance, the Skoda Superb would be the next obvious choice to the Octavia, which I am definitely switching up to next when I change this car.

However I hope to hold on to the Octavia for many miles more, as it has caused me no problems so far, and has been one of the best all round cars I've ever had. Definitely consider a good low mileage example, if looking for a private car for personal use - avoid ex taxis unless they are really cheap and been looked after, though they will have insane miles on them, 300,000 plus is not uncommon.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th June, 2016

15th Jun 2016, 20:15

I've driven in an ex-taxi garage courtesy car which had 350,000 miles on the clock. It was an old petrol Passat.

I'm sure the Skoda will be good for this mileage if it's cared for, and driven daily.

17th Jun 2016, 13:03

Yes, they are good cars, capable of very high mileage. Interestingly, I wonder what other cars makes for good taxis in other parts of the world, that are also good regular cars to drive each day? We know the UK / Europe uses the Octavia, but what about elsewhere? USA famously use the Ford Crown Victoria and a couple of others, not sure about other countries, but probably a dependable every day car of some sort.