Skoda's 1-litre Octavia carries five and a full load of luggage without breaking into a sweat
Skoda's Octavia: More with less The Octavia's interior is roomy and passengers are likely to approve of the car's comfort-biased suspension. ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

A full-size family car with a 1-litre engine sounds as improbable as an ostrich capable of flight, but that is exactly what the Skoda Octavia is. No, not a flying ostrich, but a big car with a disproportionately small heart.

The new Octavia is longer and wider than its predecessor and now occupies a bigger footprint than a sizeable car like the Honda Civic.

Yet, it is powered by a 999cc three-cylinder power plant. But thanks to turbocharging, this unit makes 116hp and 200Nm of torque. This is fairly decent, but nothing to shout about.

It allows the Octavia, which weighs just over 1.4 tonnes, to reach 100kmh in 10 seconds.

Paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, it attains a top speed of 202kmh - phenomenal for a 999cc car.

Of course, the main proposition of a downsized engine is efficiency. On this front, the Octavia 1.0 averages 7.6 litres/100km in real life.

This is not as impressive as Skoda's declared 5 litres, but not too shoddy either - especially for a car which, at the wheel, feels more sprightly than its 0-100kmh timing suggests.

Floor it and the car will have little difficulty being the first off at the lights - even with five on board.

The car feels a little light for a European product, particularly when it is negotiating a curve on the road briskly. At times, it feels like it is doing so in neutral gear.

Passengers are likely to approve of the comfort-biased suspension as well as the roomy interior.

Like its predecessors, the Octavia's interior is spacious, even if it does not have the longest wheelbase in its class.

Its boot is absolutely enormous, offering 590 litres of stowage, exceeding even what you will find in much larger vehicles. It even exceeds what a compact wagon like the Opel Astra Sports Tourer offers.

Fold the rear seats and you will get 1,580 litres - enough to ferry a compact bathtub.

Again, the versatility of a plus-size boot has long been the Octavia's forte. Think of it as a sedan with a wagon's cargo-carrying capability. Factor in its diminutive engine and the mind boggles.

Like its siblings in the Skoda family, the Octavia is packed with clever features.

Besides amenities usually found in premium models, you will find an air-conditioning vent in the glovebox - for times when you need to carry refreshments on your drive.

An under-seat flip-down box accommodates a foldable umbrella. Then, there is an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with mobile connectivity which supports a slew of audio and visual formats.

At the end of the day, the Octavia's pricing would be its biggest lure.

Starting at below $110,000, the car is somewhat cheaper than something like the Volkswagen Golf Sportsvan.

Arguably, it is prettier than the Sportsvan too. To boot, it has slightly more stowage than the utility-biased VW (although the height of the boot floor in the Volkswagen makes loading and unloading easier).

And get this - it is merely 0.1 second slower to 100kmh than the 1.4TSI Sportsvan.