This is a very popular car in the UK as a taxi, and it's easy to see why - decent interior space and very economical, 55 MPG plus through regular driving, town and motorway. Not fast, but not slow either, this is the 110 BHP diesel, better than the 90 BHP (which is still a fine engine), but this is a good balance of power and economy. Not had the car long and I've never had one before, but I've had just about every other car in this sector, which I would describe as decent sized family cars, for example, the Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Vectra, Volkswagen Passat and so on.
Heard it was based on a Passat or Golf floor plan, and the Volkswagen influence into this Skoda shows in quality, build and reliability. Refined it is not (more on that below), but to compare it to other cars like it, it's just as good, and is very capable, good looking car with a nice spec - Elegance model. Mine has alloy wheels so it stands out from the base models used as taxis with their wheel trims (though when people see you driving down the road, they still think you are a taxi!). Good level of equipment, electric windows all round, mirrors, air con, electric sunroof, all you would expect from a good trim level of a car of this type. No Bentley, but you get the idea.
So we have a car that's good to drive, very reliable and economical, not bad looking either, it's all good so far. So what do I not like? Well the problem with the car is exactly that - there's nothing to hate. It does everything just fine, not better than rivals or worse in any given department (maybe better economy out the diesel engine, that's about it) So it's just too boring. Average ride and handling, a bit too much noise. Not the most refined car. Comfort is fine, but the seats could be better and the armrest is just stupid - if you have it down it's awkward to pull the handbrake, but you get used to it.
If you're looking at a good low mileage example of these cars, with service history at a good price, go for it, you won't be disappointed if all you are after is a reliable family car. Just don't expect it to be anything special, because it is not; that's its only problem. A nice car, just boring. If you want a better driving family car, I'd go for a Mondeo, but to be fair, the Octavia is just as good if not better in all departments except driving pleasure. With that said, it's not a bad car to drive, just could have been better. I've heard the newer model is improved, I'd definitely look to buy another Octavia next, possibly the newer ones from 2005 onwards I think, but you still see this shape (98-05) on 2008 plates here in the UK, I guess they still kept making the older shape for a while. Also I think it's been replaced again for 2013 with a new model.
Overall, a good car that comes highly recommended. Not got much else to say about it; taxi drivers swear by them here, some are on 300,000 miles and still going strong! I don't know much about the petrol engine versions of this car, but I'd presume they would be a decent car as well.