Skoda entered the Indian market in 2002 with the launch of their mid-sized executive sedan, The Octavia. With its affordable pricing, advanced technology(Tdi motor) and European build quality it was an instant hit. It was far ahead of its competitors since the day it launched. After a few years, Skoda launched the next generation of Octavia in 2005 and named it the Laura. This too was successful but not as much as the previous generation as by now this segment had a lot of competitors like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla Altis and Volkswagen’s Jetta. So Skoda had to launch a very good product in order to defeat this competition. With this in mind Skoda has decided to bring back the Octavia moniker in 2013 launched of the all new Octavia. This is the first Skoda vehicle based on VW’s MQB chassis to be launched here in India. Let’s see how it fares!
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION:
The Skoda Octavia will be launched with 3 engine options, 2 petrol motors and a diesel. The petrol motor is the turbocharged 1.8L engine which we have seen in the Laura but power has been bumped up from 160bhp to 177bhp. Unfortunately the enthusiasts will be dissapointed as this engine comes mated to the 7-speed DSG gearbox,there is no manual option. But the Octavia will also be launched with the 1.4L Tsi motor seen on the Volkswagen Jetta. This motor develops a power of 140bhp and is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. This version though is being launched by Skoda to achieve a lower price point. The Octavia will also come with the 2.0L TDi engine developing 141bhp which is mated to a 6-speed dual clutch autobox gearbox an there is a manual transmission on offer too! This will account for majority of the Octavia’s sales due to the current market trends in favour of diesel vehicles.
The first thing that strikes you when you look at the Octavia’s design is that it is much sharper than it’s predecessor. That is because this car has been inspired by Skoda’s Rapid concept, especially the tail-lights and the window lines. The stance is quite well-proportioned, though it could have easily done with bigger, chunky alloys. The Octavia front view has a lot going on with the new Skoda logos, butterfly grille and the LED’s . The rear on the other hand is simple. It largely resembles it’s younger sibling, the Rapid. Right from the tail-lamps to the metal-work near the number plate has been lifted straight off the Rapid. The diffuser adds a sporty touch to an otherwise bland rear end. Also the 1.8l Tsi version gets a tiny lip spoiler to differentiate it from the diesel.
INTERIORS AND EQUIPMENT:
As we step inside the first thing we realize are the materials used. It are surely a notch above the previous generation. The switches and dials are big, simple and easy to use, very Skoda-esque. The four-spoke steering with integrated audio controls is chunky and easy to hold. The cabin is very spacious and airy due to the increased dimensions, sunroof and the choice of lighter-coloured materials. Equipment levels are quite impressive as the top end model is loaded with a touch-screen media player with 6 CD changer, Bluetooth, dual zone climate control, electric powered driver’s seat with memory, sunroof, bi-xenon headlamps with dynamic leveling, cornering lights, cruise control, tyre pressure monitor, automatic headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, 6 airbags, ABS,ASR and ESP. Indian consumers just love feature rich cars so this one is surely going to win over their hearts.
RIDE AND HANDLING:
For the first time in the Indian car market we are seeing two absolutely different rear suspension set-ups for the same car. Yes, the 1.8L petrol Skoda Octavia comes with a sophisticated independent multi-link rear suspension just like the one offered on the Volkswagen Jetta. This setup is noticeably softer than the diesel and as a result it requires constant inputs from the steering which make it a very involving car to drive. And in case things go a little wrong the ESP immediately kicks in and gets the car back in control. On the other hand the diesel and 1.4 Tsi come with a torsion beam suspension setup. This setup is quite uncomfortable at lower speed but on the highway, the stiffer suspension results in a much more pliant and comfortable ride.
The Octavia is a huge improvement over the Laura. Almost every single element right from the chassis, suspension to exteriors and interiors have been worked on to make it a much more sophisticated and better package for the consumers. There are a few places where Skoda have decided to cut corners like the Diesel’s suspension setup but this is absolutely necessary in a price sensitive market like ours. Other than that though the Octavia is packed with new technology and equipment. The Octavia has just set the benchmark for executive sedans in the country. Now it is all upto Skoda to improve their after-sales service and price the product well!