The prodigal son is set to return. Skoda, an unknown and unassuming Czech automaker made its entry into India more than a decade back with the first generation Octavia sedan. The lower purchasing prowess of car buyers in India then meant the relatively expensive Octavia sold in few number. But those who bought it instantly took a liking to it, turning into Skoda loyalists.
The original Octavia's solid built, simple yet elegant and spacious design kept the sedan sales going well until 2010, when Skoda decided to bring in the second gen Octavia. However, it made the unfortunate decision of calling the new car, Laura. The premium, higher than usual pricing and poor after sales and service did not help either.
Finally, Skoda decided to rectify that mistake by announcing the all new Octavia (3rd gen) for India on August 10, 2013. This time over it would be called the Octavia. The third gen Octavia promises to bring the magic back. The new car is aided by the much talked about MQB platform which is its core.
Length: 4659 mm
Width: 1814 mm
Height: 1416 mm
Wheelbase: 2688 mm
Ground clearance: 155 mm
One of the highlights of the new Octavia is its larger dimension. The new car is longer and wider than its predecessor. The wheelbase itself measure a full 110 mm longer than the Laura. However, Skoda has also kept the ride height slightly lower.
VW's MQB platform, which the new Octavia shares with the likes of Audi A3, the new Golf hatch among others has worked like magic to reduce the overall weight of the car. It now weighs just 1350 kg. This also means the old car's familiar tank like build will be missed. That's not to say the new car is in anyway poorly built. The fit and finish is as good as it gets for a car in its segment. The MQB platform has also allowed Skoda to keep the car up to standards in terms of safety and technology, maintained by other VW cars.
The Octavia now looks sleeker and sharper. If you stare at the car for too long you'll even start noticing similarities with some Audi sedans. The lower ride height adds to its larger, yet slimmer profile.
An easily noticeable change at the front is the much slimmer chrome strip above the trademark glossy vertical slatted grille. The lower airdam features a honeycomb mesh design instead of horizontal bars. The characteristic raised bonnet has been retained.
A major improvement comes in the form of restyled headlamps and fog lamps. The headlamp units have been given a chiseled glass look and have crisp edges. The units sport projector style light bulbs. Top end variant even comes with Bi-Xenon lamps.
LED daytime running lights feature in the Elegance variant. Ambition only gets halogen DRLs. Base Active trim misses DRLs altogether.
The C-shaped rear lamps look much like those in the new Rapid, though they appear slimmer.
The rear diffuser manages to neatly cover the rear end, almost completely hiding the exhaust tips from view.
The ORVM indicator lamps are styled similarly to higher end luxury cars.
16 inch alloy wheels are standard on all variants. The base, 'Active' trim has a different design than the other two though.
The new Octavia is not very luxurious and that's a good thing. What the car's cabin has to offer is practicality, comfort and sublimity. The wood and shiny aluminium trims are present, but they have been kept minimal. The simple beige and black dual tone is pleasant and will have a universal appeal.
The 4 spoke steering wheel is comfortable to hold and comes with mounted audio controls in all three trims.
Electronic features in the way of 12-way electrically adjustable driver seats, with memory function will only feature in the higher trim levels.
There is also a wide 5.8 inch touch screen infotainment display that can be customised depending on user preferences.
The audio system is not great, but sounds good enough. Unfortunately, in terms of connectivity, there is just a single media-in port, which acts like a port for other input adapters such as USB or AUX-in.
The sunroof only comes in the Elegance trim and has the ability to detect rain and shut automatically.
We have kept the best part about the interior for the last. Thanks to the increased dimension the car is as spacious as an actual luxury car such as an Audi A3. The seats are broad, flat and comfortable.
The same goes for the rear. A third passenger at the rear could have some trouble owing to the transmission bump and the rear air-vent column.
The new Octavia brings with it the trademark spaceback style boot door that opens up to 590 liters of luggage space. The foldable rear seats adds another 1000 liters.
Engines & Transmissions
The lineup starts with the 1.4 liter TSI (turbo) petrol engine. This engine offers 140 HP and 250 Nm torque. The front wheels will be driven by a 6 speed manual transmission.
How it feels to drive
This is the same engine that features in the VW Jetta, but in a uptuned state. Hence, the power output is more enjoyable. However, it suffers from turbo lag at lower revs, that smooths out as you go higher. It should, however, be noted that 250 Nm torque right from 1500 rpm till 3500 rpm is impressive for a 1.4 liter unit.
Next in line is the 2.0 liter TDI (turbo) diesel unit. We do not need to tell you that this will be the best selling variant in the lineup. The engine offers 148 HP and 320 Nm torque.
Buyers of this engine will be able to select between the 6 speed manual and a 6 speed DSG automatic.
How it feels and drives
A thing to be noted about this engine is that it gets noisy, particularly at lower revs and while idling. Push the engine too much and it emits a harsh note. The noise is not such a big problem while cruising at relatively higher speeds. Once again turbo lag exists at lower revs. Despite the massive amount of torque available, the car is not very sporty and will feel most pleasant during long drives at constant speeds.
The last in line is the most powerful engine in the lineup. 1.8 liter TSI (turbo) petrol engine. The engine offers plenty of grunt. There is 177 HP and 250 Nm of torque to tap into. What's more, this engine comes mated to a 7 speed DSG automatic transmission.
How it feels and drives
Also to remember is that the 1.8 liter TSI petrol is the only model that comes with a multi link rear suspension. This makes cornering a lot more fun and taking a winding road up a hill a lot more enjoyable.
Fuel Economy (manufacturer claimed)
Octavia 180 PS, 1.8 TSI - AT 14.72 kmpl
Octavia 140 PS, 1.4 TSI - MT 16.81 kmpl
Octavia 143 PS, 2.0TDI CR - AT 19.28 kmpl
Octavia 143 PS, 2.0 TDI CR - MT 20.61 kmpl
ABS+EBD and hydraulic brake assist will be standard on all variants.
A multitude of traction and stability control electronic aids come as standard on all trims, except the base Active variant.
Front and rear parking sensor with audio signal and display on infotainment system are standard all variants except the base trim.
Dual front airbags come with the Active and Ambition trims, while the Elegance trim offers all around safety with front & side airbags for the front passengers and curtain airbags at the front and rear.
Variant & Price List
Active 1.4 TSI MT - INR 13.95 lakh
Ambition 1.4 TSI MT - INR 14.95 lakh
Elegance 1.8 TSI AT - INR 18.25 lakh
Active 2.0 TDI MT 0 - INR 15.55 lakh
Ambition 2.0 TDI MT - INR 16.55 lakh
Ambition 2.0 TDI AT - INR 17.55 lakh
Elegance 2.0 TDI AT - INR 19.45 lakh
The 2014 Skoda Octavia built on the reliable and flexible VW MQB platform has worked wonders for the sedan. The car is more spacious and the higher trims have a bevy of electronics features, passenger amenities and safety features that were missing in its predecessor. Jozef Kaban's classic Octavia design has been refined and made to look more elegant than ever before. The engine lineup is not perfect. Nevertheless, they pack more punch than before. The 1.8 liter TSI petrol particularly is praise worthy.
We expect Skoda will win back many customers who had drifted away to other manufacturers post 2010.