The newly launched Octavia is at the heart of Skoda’s strategy to boost annual sales to 1.5m, according to its CEO, Winfried Vahland talking at the unveiling of the new five-door in Mladá Boleslav, Czech Republic.

It is part of a product onslaught that will see Skoda launch a new car every six months between now and 2015, said Vahland. Although unwilling to divulge details, Vahland admitted that future models in the Octavia range will include  an estate car launched at the Geneva Salon next year followed by an all-wheel drive Scout, a CNG-powered model and high-performance petrol- and diesel-engined vRS variants next July that will include “the quickest Octavia yet.”

Designed by Jozef Kaban this third generation Octavia heralds a new design theme for the Czech brand with crisp swage lines running down its flanks and a more confident grille and bonnet mounted badge. Based on VAG’s MBQ platform, it’s the largest variant yet seen, according to Frank Welsch, board member for technical development with 50mm more rear room between the ‘B’ and ‘C’ posts than either the VW Golf or Seat Leon. Overall the new Octavia is 90mm longer, 50mm wider and has a 100mm longer wheelbase than the outgoing model.  Despite this, the new car is 102Kgs lighter than its predecessor thanks, says Welsch to increased use of lightweight steels in the underpinnings and the bodyshell which uses 70% high strength steels and 20% hot stamped steels; this is despite the increased strengthening around the ‘C’ posts and upper rear fame demanded by the use of a large rear hatch, “In fact, the new car has greater torsional rigidity than the old model,” said Welsch.

CO2 emissions across the range average 115 g/kms with the Greenline, which employs stop-start and energy recuperation, achieving just 89 g/kms. Engine range comprises a pair of 1.4 TSI engines rated at 120 and 138Bhp, plus a 177Bhp 1.8TSI; two 1.6-litre diesels good for 103 and 108Bhp with a pair of two-litre TDi's – 147 and 181Bhp – also on offer.

UK sales are due to start in mid-end of March next year, with sales split 55% hatchback and 45% estate with sales growing to a predicted 78,000 in total by 2015.