Skoda starter commercial operations in India with this car, the Octavia. Launched way back in 2002, the Octavia was an instant hit in the Indian market offering a good mix of luxury and practicality at an accessible price. As of now we have multiple Skoda models on sale in India, and presence even in the sub-10 lakh rupee class, but it was the Octavia which established Skoda in India. Apart from the frugal turbocharged diesel engine, the introduction of the powerful vRS variant brought in a lot of goodwill for the Octavia and it is till date known as one of the best enthusiast cars in India. However, time demands new models, and Skoda played it smart. The company chose to continue with the old Octavia in India and brought in the next-generation model badged as the Laura, and at a higher price. But soon, the newer Laura overtook the ageing Octavia in sales & popularity leaving the manufacturer with no other option but to discontinue it. But the Laura wasn’t too lucky. Japanese rivals entered the Indian market with products offering almost equal levels of performance and premiumness; at a lower price tag. With age starting to show on the Laura, Skoda started working on the next-generation model which was revealed internationally in 2012.
The model we have on sale is the 3rd generation model. With this, Skoda decided to dump the Laura badge and bring back the iconic Octavia badge in India. Based on the MQB platform, the new Octavia was miles ahead in every aspect compared to its predecessor. Even though the new car was bigger in size, it weight considerably less. The dimensions are now almost of the D2 segment, even though the car belongs a segment below. Compared to the Laura, the Octavia is 90mm longer, 35mm wider and has a wheelbase longer by 110mm. And the car even looks good enough to justify the price tag. The guy who designed the iconic Bugatti Veyron, Jozef Kabaň, was in charge of the new Octavia’s image makeover. Everything about the new Octavia is typical of German design. Clean and elegant lines without trying to hard to pose as a looker. With pricing skyrocketing above the 2 million rupees mark, the Octavia is mighty expensive compared to the competition. Sales however are now going down to an all time low. In December 2014, Skoda managed to sell only 61 units of the Octavia. To check out what’s going for and against this big D1 segment car, we took it for a spin and this is what we found out…
The new Octavia is the first Skoda car to be rolled out with the new design philosophy. In one word, the car looks ‘CLEAN’ from all angles. The car looks elegant and will offend none with the design language.
The front grille of the new Skoda Octavia sports multiple vertical slats with chrome inserts. The Skoda logo is not a part of the grille and stands alone on the bonnet section which is carved out specially for the logo. Bonnet has a couple of crease lines flowing which add to the front-end appeal of the car. Below, the front air dam has a honeycomb mesh design and reaches out to both the fog lamps in one piece. Front fog lamps also function as cornering lamps and have a smoked out effect. The headlamps on the new Octavia get a projector setup and also sport a thin LED DRL. If you look closely, the lines inside the headlamp have yellow illumination. The headlamp is sleep and doesn’t look bulbous as on the Laura and has been smoked out. Headlamp washer is available on higher variants. Lower end variants do not get the projector setup and sport a twin-pot layout. Higher variants also get parking sensors on the front bumper.
Side profile continues with the no nonsense design treatment. Just a couple of crease lines on the upper and lower section of the door. Wheel arches are prominent and make the car looks substantial. B-pillar has been blacked out and the car also gets a chrome weather stip. ORVMs get LED turn indicators and have the power folding function. Door handles do not have a request sensor, which is a shame since cars even in the B2 segment now have it. Skoda offers 16″ multi-spoke alloy wheels in silver shade with the new Octavia. Major highlight on the car remains the panoramic sunroof. The roof is also partially blacked out around the sunroof to give it a flushed look. The sunroof pops open on top of the roof, and not sliding inside like in the previous cars.
At the back, the car resembles a lot to the Rapid, which some of the potential buyers might dislike. The car gets the typical ‘C’ shaped tail lamp setup, but it is a LED unit on the Octavia. Rear bumper sports two horizontal reflectors for safety while driving at night. Rear bumper also gets a blacked out plastic section at the bottom, to prevent scratches just in case if you touch a stone while reversing. Parking sensors are placed on this blacked out section, neatly hiding away from the unaware. The number plate recess is almost identical to the Rapid with the prism like design detailing. Skoda offers one rear fog lamp on the RHS tail lamp. The bootlid opens up like a hatchback, with the windscreen moving up, unlike conventional sedan boots.
Overall, the new Octavia is much sharper than before, but is much pricier as well.
If you’ve been inside the old Octavia or the Laura; then once you enter the latest model you will instantly notice the increase in cabin space. Backed with beige and black interiors, the cabin feels very airy at all times. Once inside, the price you pay for the new Octavia is justified by the luxurious interiors.
Top of the dashboard is flat and is in the black shade. It also sports a woofer in the centre. The flat dashboard will come in handy for those who want to stick idols of deities here. Steering wheel is all-black an wrapped in leather. The Skoda logo sits in the centre nicely. The hornpad however makes you stretch your thumb a fair amount. The LHS control stalk houses the cruise control buttons and one can increase or decrease the speed of the car using the buttons on the head of the stalk. Another feature missed is the engine start / stop button. Instrument cluster sports a twin pot layout and gets two chrome surrounds and a MID in the centre. Centre console gets a piano black finish with a touchscreen infotainment system placed here. The stereo gets a total of 8-speakers all around the sound quality is very good. There is absolutely no need to upgrade to a better setup unless you want something more in specific. Below the head unit is the dual zone automatic climate control. This comes in handy when you occupant would want to feel cooler or warmer when on the go. The DSG gear stick wrapped in leather and chrome falls in your hand perfectly. There is plenty of storage option around here to place your bottles, toll tickets etc.
The higher end, Elegance variant gets electric front seats (driver only). The leather seats are comfortable and get adjustable lumbar support as well. Lateral support is also good by segment standards and the seat height adjustment will help the shorter drivers well. Not to forger the rake and reach adjustment of the steering wheel. Driver also gets a sliding armrest with a storage bin underneath. Attention to detail is seen on the doors which get felt lining for the bottle holder area. This will surely prevent rattling, but is also bound to get dirty soon. Chrome door handles look nice and premium.
The new Skoda Octavia shines in the D2 segment when it comes to the room being offered at the back seat. Interior length has increased by 33mm over the Laura giving a total benefit of extra 47mm for the rear passengers (legroom). Passengers with height in the range of 6-feet will also not feel too cramped over here. Under thigh support is average. The backrest angle however could have been a bit more reclined. Although the cabin is wide enough for three, the transmission hump in the centre takes away the ability to seat 3 at the back. The third passenger will have to keep his feet on either side of this hump. The Octavia gets rear AC vents and a small storage spot below. If you wish to access the boot while on the go, simply drop the rear seat armrest. Rear passengers also get bottle holders on the door, cupholders on the centre arm rest and front seat-back pockets.
Boot opens in signature Skoda style with the windscreen also popping up with the boot. The Octavia has a massive 590 litre boot space which will gulp in your vacation luggage with ease. The rear seats have a 60:40 split & fold function which adds to the practicality.
Engine, performance & handling:
The Skoda Octavia comes with three engine options – 1.4 TSI, 1.8 TSI & 2.0 TDI. We drove the top of the line 1.8 TSI model since it is termed to be the most fun to drive car in the segment with this setup.
The 1.8L TSI engine is a turbocharged, DOHC, transversely mounted petrol motor producing 178 BHP of power @ 5,100-6,200 RPM and 250 Nm of torque @ 1,250-5,000 RPM. Engine is mated to the butter smooth 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox with manual Tiptronic option.
The engine although sounds familiar, is all-new and the 3rd generation 1.8: TSI motor. NVH levels are acceptable and the Octavia stays calm when fired up. There is no vibration felt as well. Slot it in D and the car moves without any throttle input. If you press the pedal hard though, the throttle response is a bit explosive and you need to take care of this while moving in stop and go traffic. What happens is the revvs build up and the car will move ahead with more momentum that you would have planned. Within the city, the car rarely shifts down to the first gear. It continues to crawl over speed bumps in the second gear itself. However, once you hit the pedal, there is a slight knocking felt since the car is in a higher gear for the speed. This is since the first gear is very short and ideal only for moving away from a standstill. Torque delivery lower down the revv range will keep most of the drivers happy and in-gear acceleration is peppy too. The gearbox is super smooth and seldom would the rear occupants feel the gearshifts, unless you’re moving close to the redline.
Move to the highways and slot the car in sports mode to have some fun. Firstly, the engine note is very enjoyable and you will find yourself smiling as you revv close to the redline. The car automatically upshifts once you hit the redline in sports mode. It also continues to hold on to the lower gears and this results in good engine braking as well. In sports mode, if you kick down the accelerator, the Octavia is more than happy to drop more than just one gear and will suit the enthusiasts tastes. If you like to hear the fun apart from just feeling it, you can also hear the throttle blip while downshiftng in this mode. Mid-range and top-end performance is brilliant and the car can achieve 100 kmph in a breeze. Sometimes, you do feel that the DSG takes a while to react, slight lag from the motor at times too. But then, not too many would complain. If Skoda offered paddle shifts on the Octavia, purists would have loved it. ARAI rated fuel efficiency for the 1.8 TSI is 14.7 kmpl.
The 1.8TSI model gets the superior multi-link suspension setting while the 1.4 TSI & 2.0 TDI get a torsion beam at the rear. Skoda should have offered the multi-link suspension on all models considering the price at which it is launched. Ride quality of the Octavia is plush and complaint. The suspension soaks up the potholes well without leaving any audible thud inside the cabin. Suspension behaviour on high speeds is tight and the car holds on to the road well. Although the car is fairly long, the Octavia stays well balanced even mid-corner. Steering wheel provides decent feedback by EPS standards. Steering is direct, but enthusiasts will miss the hydraulic setup.
Disc brakes all-round offer good feedback and braking bite. Brake bite is sharp and precise and even under panic braking situations, the car doesn’t loose composure. A mention needs to be made about the safety features which includes 6 airbags, EDL (Electronic Differential Lock) , ESC (Electronic Stability Control), MKB (Multi Collision Braking), ABS, EBD & Prefill in the Octavia. Ground clearance of 155mm coupled with the stiff suspension protects the car from scraping over speed bumps.
If you’re a fan of the Octavia brand and have owned the previous generations, the new model has much more to offer. The car is bigger and better in many aspects and although a bit overpriced, it does have enough feel good factor. Although looked upon as a model lower to the Volkswagen Jetta, the Octavia outperforms the Jetta both on paper as well as on the road. With the 1.4L TSI & 2.0L TDI, the car will offer very good fuel efficiency when you consider the size of the car. With the market shifting its focus towards SUVs, sedans in the market are being sold with some mouth watering offers. So if you’re looking to blow up 20 lakhs on a sedan, we recommend you test drive the Octavia.