You know that the unveiling of a new car is a momentous event when the Prime Minister pops along to hail its arrival. And that’s just what happened when the all-new Skoda Octavia took its world bow in the Czech Republic this week.

Premier Andrej Babis, was among the hundreds of guests, including yours truly, assembled at the National Gallery in Prague for a glittering ceremony.

The Octavia is Skoda’s international best-seller, so it’s an important element of the country’s economy, hence the PM’s presence amid industry luminaries and the Press of many countries.

After an introduction by a modern string trio backed by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, the wraps were off and the car glided down the catwalk (or carwalk?) to tumultuous applause.

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Picture by Frank Turner

And the new Octavia lives up to its grand introduction. There’s a noticeable evolution, rather than a revolution, in the style stakes – such is Skoda’s way – and the introduction of a wealth of features for the car which will reach our shores next year.

The new front apron, narrower headlights and newly designed, shallow roof rails emphasise the elongated silhouette of the estate version, while the hatchback looks as elegant as a coupé. All in all, the new car radiates self-confidence and quality.

Making their debut are: head-up display, shift-by-wire technology and back-friendly ‘Ergo’ seats.

Powertrains will see plug-in-hybrid drive, mild hybrid and efficient petrol, and diesel engines, while the exterior has greater dimensions and the interior boasts new design and a multi-level dashboard.

Perhaps the most exciting of the new technologies on board is the shift-by-wire technology for operating the DSG (automatic gearbox). It electronically transmits the driver’s gear selection to the transmission. There is a new control module located in the centre console with a small rocker switch for selecting drive modes as well as a button for the parking mode.

Skoda offers a choice of four infotainment systems with screens measuring from 8.25in to 10in and some of them can be operated using gesture control or by voice via the ‘Laura digital assistant’.

The cabin has new LED ambient lighting, indirectly illuminating the front doors and dashboard. The driver can choose from a total of ten different colours and can even assign differing colours to the dashboard and footwell.

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The various colours are bundled and categorised by symbols, which can be used to create co-ordinated ‘light scenarios’ such as dawn, sun or clouds. The ambient lighting also includes the projection of the Skoda lettering on the ground next to the front doors when they are opened.

The fourth-generation Octavia sees the introduction of some new assistance systems. ‘Collision avoidance assist’ supports the driver by actively increasing the steering moment in the event of an impending collision with a pedestrian, cyclist or another vehicle – ideally preventing the accident with a controlled evasive manoeuvre.

At junctions, ‘turn assist’ can detect oncoming traffic at an early stage when turning left, warn the driver or even automatically stop the vehicle. The ‘exit warning’ system lets the driver know if another vehicle or a cyclist is approaching from behind when opening the car door. 

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The car’s ‘virtual cockpit’ has the latest generation of the digital and individually customisable instrument panel. The driver can choose from four different layouts – basic, classic, navigation and driver assistance systems – with help from steering wheel-mounted controls.

For the Octavia vRS, there is also an exclusive sport layout. In the driver assistance systems layout, activated systems are shown three-dimensionally – and are mirrored in the central display.

Good looks, top tech, new engines and transmission bring the Octavia to the forefront of modern motoring, for a car with a long heritage. The first one was produced in 1959 and, after a break, 1996 saw the first new-generation Octavia.

Certainly, 6.5million sales later, across all generations, the Octavia deserved its glitzy big night.

Prices: To be announced.