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Car review: Skoda's third generation Octavia ripe to rumble

Monday, 7 October 2013 - 9:09am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

In a bid to sizzle and spice up the Indian festive season no one could have timed it perfectly than India’s eternal Czech favourite Skoda, which will have its third generation Octavia go on sale next week.

The third generation Octavia, which is among the very first of the new breed of cars built using the much touted MQB manufacturing matrix of the VW Group, will be eagerly watched and tracked in the market.

More so, because the Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh space across brands – barring the Toyota Innova – has stagnated and would require not just a very good offering but also a strong communiqué to lure buyers to move into this price band.

The new Octavia, which went on sale in Europe late last year, is a clean new design from the ground up and sports the firm’s new character grille and face with a wide-planted look. It is very much a more contemporary step up from the Laura and will come with a range of two petrol engine options (the 1.4 TSI and the 1.8 TSI) and the well known 2.0 TDI diesel which is clearly one of the best engines today in the VW Group.

Given our affinity to diesel, this large capacity motor is not only very tractable but has ample torque to deliver massive gains on performance and fuel efficiency. Skoda knows it has to get everything right for the brand and its standing in an already depressed market.

So it is pulling all the stops and offering both a 6-speed manual gearbox or the twin-clutch DSG automatic box as the higher priced option.

The two petrol motors are bristling with technology; they have distinguished themselves in delivering diesel-like torque while retaining the silky smoothness of a petrol engine. While the 1.4 TSI does labour a bit in the low revs, it does have a strong operating band, which is ideal for Indian operating conditions. It is also the model which kicks off the new Octavia range, being available in two trim options – the base Active and the step-up Ambition editions.

The topline petrol offering is the Octavia 1.8 TSI with DSG transmission and all the bells and whistles as befitting the Elegance trim level. The move to shore up on diesel firepower and give more to those opting for the country’s favourite automotive brew sees the 2.0 TDI available in all three trim options and with manual and automatic gearbox options.

All Octavias, as has been the norm since 2001, come highly specced and it is no different this time round as well. Electrically adjustable driver’s seat, cruise control, adaptive bi-xenon headlamps along with LEDs as daytime running lights plus a tyre pressure monitoring system make up the top line Elegance trim, which backs up the very comprehensive equipment list on the base Active and Ambition models. Space is exemplary and the fitment quality is a notch higher in value and feel. Skoda has also engineered the ride quality for Indian roads to be much softer than the firm set-up seen in high-speed markets of Europe.

All in all, the new Octavia could be the right ticket in the executive segment save for the fact that the price band it operates in is the toughest one to kick-start even with pricing starting from as low as Rs13.95 lakh for the 1.4 TSI and going all the way up to Rs19.45 lakh for the topline 2.0 TDI automatic (all prices ex-showroom Delhi). 

Sudhir Rao, managing director of Skoda India, did indicate that to a degree when he said: “We are confident that it will revolutionise its segment compelling the customers to expect more.”

How much more and that too how quickly will be key pointers to growth or sustenance or both!

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