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by Tim Beissmann

The all-new Skoda Octavia has been spied lapping the Nurburgring in Germany ahead of the utilitarian Czech liftback’s international launch in 2013.

The third-generation Octavia, which is destined to go on sale in Australia during the second half of 2013, will grow noticeably in all directions as it steps up into the medium-size class to go head-to-head with the likes of the Toyota Camry, Mazda6 and Ford Mondeo.

The new Octavia will sit above the incoming Skoda Rapid small car, which will debut in Australia at next week’s Sydney motor show before going up against the Mazda3, Toyota Corolla and the rest of the competitive small-car class in the first half of next year.

Built on the Volkswagen Group’s new MQB platform – the same one that underpins the all-new Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf Mk7 – the 2013 Skoda Octavia promises to take a generational leap forward in terms of driving dynamics and passive safety.

The Octavia will also borrow a range of turbocharged four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines from the new Golf, promising enhanced performance and improved fuel efficiency.

A detuned version of the new Golf GTI’s 162kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbo petrol powerplant is expected to find its way under the bonnet of the high-performance Skoda Octavia RS.

The prototype’s psychedelic camouflage does a good job of disguising the car’s key styling details, although it’s clear the new model will be longer, lower and sleeker than ever before.

The styling of the 2013 Octavia will take inspiration from the Skoda VisionD concept that showed off fresh, sharp lines at the 2011 Geneva motor show.

The Skoda Octavia liftback will be joined future down the track by a more versatile wagon body style.