The route chosen by the Skoda team to test drive the new third-generation Skoda Octavia was a meandering track from Parwanoo in the foothills of the Shivalik range to the verdant Oberoi property Wildflower in Shimla.
With a rough single-lane of 40-kilometre stretch at the end, the setting was just perfect to test the car to its limits.
Let’s get you the sweep now. Some minor reservations aside, the drive overall was a pleasant affair to remember to write back to readers.
Exterior : The new car marks a re-entry of the Skoda brand’s metallic logo right on the forehead of the car, giving it a bulged, bold aggressive look.
Another pair of sharp sidelines stretches right from the headlamps to the tail, softening the overall appeal and imparting a corporate identity. The rear top end extends a little more, giving a faint coupe look, which enhances the expanse of the boot and the aesthetics as well.
The top end has LED daytime running lights and fog lamps in all the three categories. A new addition is a massive front radiator grille with chrome surround and alloy wheels in all categories.
Interior: Impressive in space and safety, but leaves some room on aesthetics as the plastic used could have been more tasteful. A dual-tone front dashboard, centre console and door panels all match up to the ivory coloured upholstery, giving it a ministerial look.
On the accessibility front, one can reach out to the massive boot space from the centre of the rear seats.
Engine: The car boasts of MQB Volkswagen architecture – a modular kit system with transverse engine mounting that makes the chassis modular and ensures reduction of the weight and wider space inside.
Since the car is lighter, the ease of control is more. Light weight adds to the mileage, but there is still room for improvement so as to miss the screeching sounds on sharp bends. Though the body roll is there, the manoeuvrability is awesome.
While there is an expected lag in the automatic version in the first gear, the gear ratios improve on higher speeds and the lag effect is completely gone.
The petrol variant of the automatic version lacks the firepower of diesel on steep stretches, but for city it is a perfect companion.
The automatic petrol version gives a maximum power of 180 PS at 6200 rpm and a maximum torque of 250 Nm at 5000 rpm, but will offer the least mileage in all the four categories of 14.7 kmpl. Both the diesel versions deliver a maximum power of 143 Ps at 4,000 rpm and a maximum torque of 320 Nm at 3000 rpm, while the manual version gives a mileage of 20.6 kmpl, according to Skoda.
Verdict: The new Skoda Octavia does have the features to replace the existing Laura and is delicately positioned just below the Superb.
Cleverly sculpted for a little powerful driving on uneven and hilly terrains and pleasant cruise on city roads, the Octavia definitely has the potential to change the fortunes of the company in India – only if it is priced as cleverly as it is designed.