It’s been a long road with plenty of scoops of both camouflaged prototypes and unmarked cars captured during testing and photo shoots, but now the time has come for Skoda to release its third generation of the successful Octavia series, which is seen here in liftback form with an estate model to follow next year. The 2013 Octavia is the first Skoda model to make use of the VW Group’s new and lighter MQB platform that underpins several other compact cars, most notably the VW Golf Mk7 and the latest Audi A3 hatchbacks. Compared to the model it replaces, the new Octavia is 90mm longer at 4,659mm, 45mm wider at 1,814mm, and more importantly, the wheelbase has been stretched by 108mm to 2,686mm, something that mainly benefits the interior and space on the rear seats. As a result, front head room has increased by 8 mm, front elbow width by 39 mm and rear elbow width by 26 mm over the outgoing Octavia. According to Skoda, the Octavia offers a class-leading interior space in the compact segment with 1,782 mm of interior length and the largest boot with a volume of 590 liters. Besides being more spacious, the new model also sports a more premium feel both inside and out. The exterior design of the car is sleek and to the point and has more presence than the previous Octavia. A new characteristic that we will be seeing more of in future Skoda models is an upswept dynamic window line in the rear doors, which the company calls a “fin”. Inside, the uncluttered interior styling is typical of VW Group models with Skoda adding the latest in infotainment systems and other tech goodies including the availability for the first time of an Adaptive Cruise Assistant and a traffic-sign recognition as part of the ‘Traveller Assistant’ package. Also new are the Intelligent Light Assistant that will switch to high beam and back automatically, a panoramic sunroof and the Driving Mode Selection that enables drivers to set certain vehicle driving characteristics at the push of the button. The new Octavia Mk3 will make it to the European market next spring with a selection of eight turbocharged petrol and diesel engines. These include a 1.4-liter TSI petrol delivering 120hp (122PS), a 1.8-liter TSI petrol producing 177hp (180PS) and a 1.6-liter TDI, which in GreenLine trim generates 109hp (110PS) returning 3.4lt/100km (69.2mpg US or 83.1mpg UK) with CO2 emissions of just 89 g/km. Skoda said manual and DSG transmissions are available, with all-wheel-drive versions in the works. A performance RS (vRS in the UK) version fitted with the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine as the next VW Golf GTI will follow late next year as well. The new Octavia will be formally introduced to the public at next year’s Geneva Motor Show in March.