Skoda launches the all new Octavia: will it be third time lucky?

04 October 2013: The first generation Skoda Octavia was one of the defining cars of its segment. It was sturdy, had good performance and was very efficient. The second generation Octavia was launched in India under the Laura moniker. Although a very capable car, it could never really live up to the initial hype. And now, in a segment that is crowded with sedans having similar specs, Skoda is looking to cut a niche for itself with the new Octavia.

Skoda has always designed good looking cars, and the new Octavia is no exception. Its form-follows-function design is clean and uncluttered, and is quite likely to gain rapid acceptance. It has sharp crisp lines, giving it a modern look. The back looks a lot like the smaller Rapid, which may be a put off for some, but works for me. The Octavia has grown longer and wider than the outgoing Laura, but remains well balanced in its design. The boot space is ample at 590 litres.

The interior is typically Skoda – no bling, just pure functionality. There is a multi-functional screen in the front console for the audio system, climate control and park assist. The soft-touch plastic used in the interiors is of supreme quality, as are the ivory leather seats. The increased size has resulted in a more spacious cabin, with all round improvement in rear legroom, elbowroom and headroom, providing better rear seat comfort.

The Octavia is being offered in 7 variants, spread across three engine choices: a 1.4 TSI with 140BHP and 250Nm of torque, a 1.8 TSI with 180BHP and 250Nm of torque and a 2.0 TDI with 143BHP and 320Nm of torque. The 1.8 TSI promises to offer an engaging drive, with more than enough power on tap, while the 1.4 TSI is more for the chauffeur-driven kind. The 2.0 TDI is the pick of the lot, with some monstrous amount of torque and ample power, all while managing 21 km/l, which is really amazing efficiency for a car this powerful. The 1.4 TSI and 2.0 TDI are hooked to a 6-speed manual, while the 1.8 TSI only comes with a 7-speed DSG automatic. The 2.0 TDI also has an optional 6-speed DSG automatic. All in all, the engine choices are well spread out, and there’s one to suit every need.

Matching its sporting credentials is a ride that is slightly on the firm side. The handling is sharp and the Octavia manages to handle whatever our cruel Indian roads throw at it. The Octavia is surely a driver’s car. In terms of safety, the Octavia has some clever features up its sleeve. A new feature, the Multi-Collision Brake system, automatically slows down the car in case of a collision, preventing further damage. Another important feature is Crew Protect Assist which automatically tightens the seat belts and closes the windows and sunroof when a collision takes place. Apart from these, there are the usual safety systems including six airbags and ESP, ABS, ABD, and so on.

All in all, I think Skoda is back with a bang with this one – it’s a car the competition must not underestimate. It checks all the right boxes, is beautiful, well built, powerful and most importantly supremely efficient. Even the pricing has been handled well. If everything goes as planned, the Octavia should be selling like hot cakes.

The pricing for the Octavia starts at IRS 13.95 lakh for the base 1.4 TSI and goes on to IRS 19.45 lakh for the top of the line 2.0TDI.

The downside for Skoda however has always been poor service support, expensive spare parts and high maintenance and that will always make customers tread with some caution. That apart, this one seems to be a winner from their stable.

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