Skoda forayed into the Indian market with the launch of the Octavia in 2001. The Octavia quickly climbed the popularity charts with its distinctive design; a potent diesel engine and solid build quality. Skoda India later launched the second generation Octavia as the Laura here, while continuing the older model. Recently, the automaker, a part of the Volkswagen group, has gone back to its roots of launching the Octavia in India under its original name, and if our initial impressions are anything to go by, this car is a rock star. The car has evolved into a smart, sassy looker, while retaining its old tough-as-an-old-boot DNA.
Arguably, a short glimpse of the new Skoda Octavia can even make a layman identify the car’s origins. The new Octavia is 90 mm longer, 35 mm wider and its wheelbase is 110 mm longer than its predecessor but thanks to the usage of Volkswagen's MQB platform, it is lighter by 70 kgs than Laura. Skoda has given strong character lines to the car, while retaining its sober and confident appearance. The front grille has an imposing 19 slats, and coupled to the sharply raked headlamps, give a very interesting character line to the car. Then there are the fog lamps, which also function as bending lights, illuminating on turning the steering wheel. At the rear, the iconic C-shaped tail lamps make the rear interesting to look at. The only bit that looks a little dull is the overall rear design, which is as staid as stable mate Rapid.
Even as one opens the door to step in, the solid thud signals quality. The front seats are extremely comfortable and supportive and should you opt for the top version, you will get a power adjustable drivers’ seat with memory function. The rear seats are fairly comfortable too, but taller people might find the lack of thigh-support to be a little disconcerting at times – especially during long drives. Apart from this the cabin reeks of high quality with even the plastic surface finish impressive. The interior design is stylishly simple, and the dark wood accents further highlight the elegance of the interiors.
2013 Skoda octavia Video Review
The equipment list is quite well specced with power windows, electrically adjustable and retractable outer rear-view mirrors (ORVMs) dual zone climate control, dual reading lamps, a storage console with knee rest for driver, an infotainment system with multi-connectivity options, cooled glove box with light, leather seats, multi-functional steering wheel with tilt function, auto head light, rain sensing wipers and many other features one would crave for in D-segment sedans. The instrument console is clear with bold and bright fonts while the 4-spoke wheel adds a more rugged appeal to the design. The rear seats are foldable in 60:40:60 ratio with a boot space of 590 liters. An air-conditioning vent is also provided for the rear passengers, although it’s high center tunnel cramps the space for third passenger in the rear. The boot is also accessible from inside the cabin via the center armrest in the rear seat.
Engine and Transmission:
There are two petrol engine options on the Octavia – a 1.4 and a 1.8-litre, both TSi (Turbocharged Stratified Injection) petrol engines along with the 2.0-litre TDi diesel mill, which we drove. The diesel Octavia produces a peak power of 143 PS at 4000 RPM with impressive torque of 320 Nm between 1750 RPM-3000 RPM. Mated to these powerplants are 6-speed manual or a 7 speed automatic DSG gearbox with tiptronic function, which can be used by enthusiastic drivers to keep the engine on a boil.
The manual gearshift is slick with its short throws, which can inspire a good driver to move rapidly. The gear ratios are chosen well, with a tall overdrive in the interest of fuel economy. A case in point would be the ability of the car to run at 100kmph with the engine turning over at only 1600 RPM, though if you were to push the engine beyond 3500 RPM, it could get quite raucous – although this is one engine that loves to rev. Besides driving pleasure, the manual version of the Octavia is quite efficient with an ARAI certified mileage of 20.6 kmpl.
Performance and Handling:
Thanks to Volkswagen’s new MQB platform, the new Octavia weighs 70 kgs less than its predecessor. What has also improved with the enhanced ride quality is the handling due to better rigidity and a stiffened suspension. Interestingly, the Octavia 1.4-TSi and 2.0-litre TDi feature a torsion beam suspension at the rear while the most powerful 1.8-litre TSI variant is comes with a multi-link suspension at rear. The suspension is slightly on the stiff side and feels a bit firm during facing the course of undulations and potholes at slow speed but at higher speeds, the stability is simply outstanding on both straight curved roads. The electronic power steering, termed as 'Electromechanical' by Skoda, responds well by being light at crawling speeds and weighing up as speed climbs; though some may complain about the lack of feel. Notwithstanding, the steering response is very precise and gives substantial feedback even for little inputs unlike the other unremarkable examples of electronic power steering. And to control those 143 horses, disc brake at all four wheels work in perfect synchronisation towards positive braking.
Arguably, safety features have become a very essential feature in any car in today's world, and the new Octavia is not far behind in this area. The car is loaded with basic features like daytime running lights (DRLs), warning lights on doors and rear fog lamps just to enhance the visibility. Several electronic safety aids including Antilock Braking System, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Hydraulic Brake Assist, Automatically dimming interior and outer rear view mirror, Anti Slip Regulation, Motor Speed Regulation, two airbags, rear parking sensors and the list goes on to aid the driver stay safe during extreme driving conditions. Along with these features, the top-end variant additionally gets 4 more airbags, front parktronic assist, tire pressure monitor, daytime running LED and a panoramic sunroof on top.
After spending a considerable time driving the new Octavia, we are happy that the car’s basic DNA of good looks and stellar performance with excellent build quality stays unchanged. No vehicle is however perfect, and the Octavia suffers from somewhat challenged rear seat comfort. Torque levels below 1900RPM can be a pain in the manual versions, and the rear suspension for the diesel variant could have been better but these are minor gripes in what is otherwise a brilliant car. Skoda is also working very hard to improve its service quality standards, and the result is there for everyone to see. The Octavia range starts from Rs. 13.95 lakhs and goes upto Rs. 19.45 Lakhs (ex-showroom, Delhi).