Skoda Octavia is a household name in India - not just because it marked the Volkswagen Group's entry into the country back in 2001, but for the fact that it was fast, solidly built, elegant-looking, affordable and most importantly, returned amazing fuel economy.
When the second generation arrived, Skoda killed the Octavia nameplate and rechristened it the Laura. Although Laura managed to sell in decent numbers, it failed to continue the revolution sparked by its predecessor. Now, the Czech carmaker is all set to reintroduce the Octavia into what could be a tougher challenge in a more competitive market. Will the Octavia do the trick again for Skoda and rise above the competition? Let’s find out.
Sharp is the word. The new Skoda Octavia’s exterior design is all about clear lines and sharp edges. The Octavia is 90 mm longer and 45 mm wider than the Laura, but despite growing in height and width, the design remains well proportionate and balanced. Highlight of the front design is the butterfly grille – the 21 slats encompassed in a chrome surround. The three-dimensional flying arrow badge sits on the edge of the bonnet, flanked by two bold lines sweeping up till the windshield. Blame it on the C-shaped tail lights and the slashes on both sides of the number plate, the rear of the car bears a striking resemblance to the Rapid and it might not be well appreciated by Indian buyers.
Interior, Space and Features
Traditionally, Skoda cars get unsophisticated and no-nonsense interiors and the new Octavia is no exception. However, the cabin is a huge improvement over the outgoing model in all aspects. The dual tone plastics feel softer, seats are more comfortable, cabin is roomier with enough space for five adults and the interiors look more premium, overall. It should be observed here that the new Octavia offers the largest cabin space in this segment. Rear headroom, elbow width and shoulder room have also been increased in comparison to its predecessor. The centre console houses a multi-monitor for parking assist, climate control, vehicle settings and a superb audio system.
Octavia has always been popular for the tailgate that swings open widely. The new generation’s boot not only features the same, but also has grown by another five litres to 590 litres. Flat fold the rear seats and the loading volume expands to a whopping 1580 litres.
There's a wide range of engines to choose from – a 1.4litre TSI 140ps petrol, a speedy 1.8 litre TSI 180ps petrol and a 2.0 litre TDI CR 143ps diesel. All engines are turbocharged and use direct injection. The 1.4 TSI and the 2.0 TDI are mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox while the 1.8 TSI hooks to a seven speed automatic DSG. The 2.0 TDI is also available paired with an optional 6-speed DSG automatic. However, you will be disappointed to hear that there’s no paddle shift available on any of the automatic variants.
I recently got a chance to drive the 1.8 TSI and 2.0 TDI along the twisty Himayalan highway from Chandigarh to Shimla. With 320 Nm of torque to play with, the 2.0 litre diesel had no trouble rocketing out of corners and devouring the inclines. Yet, my favourite was the 1.8 TSI with the seven-speed DSG, which does an amazing job of choosing just the right gear whether cruising or overtaking. On the flipside, this variant returns a disappointing fuel economy of 14.7kmpl (maximum). So, if mileage is your top priority, the six-speed manual diesel returning 20.6kmpl would be the right choice for you.
Ride and Handling
The suspension is on the stiffer side so the car has a slightly firmer ride that doesn’t as smoothly iron out the bumps on the roads. It's certainly not uncomfortable by any means, but you might notice potholes more than you might in the Elantra or the Corolla Altis. I was totally impressed with the tenacious handling of the Skoda Octavia. It did not lollop around through tight twists and corners along the Himalayan highway, and there was plenty of grip.
The Octavia comes with a diverse safety portfolio. On the top of the list is the Multi-Collision Brake, which automatically slows down the car in case of a collision, so that further collision can be avoided. Another significant feature is Crew Protect Assist, which automatically tightens the seatbelts and closes the windows and sunroof when a collision risk is detected. Other safety features include six airbags and Electronic Stability Control among the usual ABS, EBD etc.
The new Skoda Octavia caters to a wide consumer demographic, appealing to families, couples, seniors and enthusiasts alike. It is a practical, spacious and comfortable family sedan and, at the same time, offers plenty of power and dynamics for the enthusiasts. In short, the new Skoda Octavia looks poised to repeat, if not surpass, the success of the first generation Octavia.
Skoda is launching the Octavia on 3rd October and prices will be announced then.
- Skoda Octavia