David Motton
Tow Car Editor

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BIGGER, CLEANER AND safer than its predecessor, the newSkoda Octavia could be one of the star cars of 2013 when it appears in showrooms inMarch.

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I’m taking a personal as well as professional interest in the new Skoda, as I own an Octavia 2.0 TDI Estate. It’s been a reliable, spacious and practical family workhorse for the past five years.

The new car will be even roomier than my 55-plate model. Skoda claims an extra 73mm (almost three inches) of legroom. Boot space for the hatchback is up five litres to 590 litres, and you can bet the estate will have an even bigger boot when it arrives in the summer.

Go for the Octavia 1.6 TDI Greenline, and the CO2 emissions figure is just 89g/km. Skoda gives the economy for this model as 3.4 litres per 100km. Unless my maths lets me down, that’s 83mpg – exceptional for such a large car.

That engine won’t be available until later in 2013, but from launch buyers can choose from 104bhp 1.2 and 138bhp 1.4 petrols or 104bhp 1.6 and 148bhp 2.0 diesels.

Safety standard look to have improved, with up to nine airbags available and an impressive roster of high-tech safety aids, including automated braking and a pop-up bonnet to protect pedestrians.

There is a ‘but’ coming – the new Octavia’s weight. Figures haven’t been released for individual models, but Skoda claims kerbweight reductions of up to 102kg, so the 85% match figures will be less favourable. Prices are also moving in the wrong direction, from a starting point of £13,385 for the current range to an estimated cost of just under £16,000.

I’m about to email Skoda to ask when we’ll be able to test the Octavia. Soon, I hope.