Production started on September 3rd, 1996, at an event where former Czech President Vaclav Havel gave the starting signal. The famous Mlada Boleslav factory needed a 32,000-square-meter extension to house the Octavia line, plus 2,500 square meters of office space.
The foundation was laid 18 months before, but the development of the Octavia began much, much sooner, in 1992. That was just one year after Volkswagen took Skoda under its protective wing.
All the Octavia generations were pretty popular, which is amazing when you consider the first one wasn't available in China and didn't even have that many engines available. In total, 5 million units have been built, which is an average of 400,000 every year.
Rather than point out all the features of every generation, we want to imagine somebody from 1996 was shown a 2016 Octavia. What would he think? We believe he'd be in total shock.
Back twenty years ago, the Octavia was just a simple sedan that was offered with two FSI petrol engines and one version of the 1.9-liter TDI. Fast forward to the present day and there are more flavors than we can count. The most powerful is the RS 230, which uses a 2.0-liter turbo shared with the Golf GTI.
The current model also has a few versions of the DSG gearbox, a Haldex AWD system, the option for adaptive suspension and a hydraulically operated trunk. Prices have also increased by about 50%, and that's before you include the options. One novelty that's just been added is a wireless phone charging system - just imagine how sci-fi that would look back then.
Oh, and did we mention Skoda's success story is a global one? In addition to the main plant in Mlada Boleslav, the compact is also manufactured at the plants in China, India, Russia and Kazakhstan. In fact, the Czech Republic isn't even the biggest market anymore.