It’s a good day to head out for a quick getaway with your family. You’re in the typical weekend mood where you’ve parted ways to the not-so-easy Life of yours in a Metro. All set for this short getaway, you approach to your car to dump all of the stuff that’s a must for a quick getaway like this. You realize that you’ve taken up all the boot space available at your disposal and are in awe as to how this car managed to take all of that in.
Soon, your family’s on-board and you soon hit those lovely hairpins where you’re having a blast while pushing your car. Getaway’s done and you’re back to your monotonous and boring life (you know, until next time!).
Back to work after a quick getaway means your tee and shorts have given way to a more sophisticated attire. All suited up for work, you approach your car and soon get into it. You take the car for an important meeting with a client of yours. He sees you getting down from your car all suited up and both accompany each other’s outlook meaning business.
The car which can be a fun tool for your quick (by quick, I mean QUICK!) getaways and also look the part by going well with your suited-up attire. That’s Simply Clever, for me. That’s a Skoda and that’s a Skoda Octavia doing its part for me.
The Octavia’s lineage dates all the way back to the late 60s where the Octavia played the role of a perfect family car and it continued to sell well for about 12-years where it was put to rest. The brand Octavia was resurrected by Skoda in the year 1996 in the Europe. Later, the bosses at Volkswagen took a wise call of introducing the brand Skoda to the Indian subcontinent where the Government had open itself for the Global markets (read Liberalization of Trade Policy).
To start things off, Skoda stepped onto the Indian soil and introduced the Mark 1 Octavia which essentially was a significantly more premium car than its peers for the money of a D-segment sedan. This car did give the brand a much required head-start and over a period of time, the Octavia evolved into Laura (essentially the Mark 2 Octavia abroad) and then, the brand Octavia was laid to rest in 2010 only to resurrect the very name in 2013 with the inception of Mark 3 Octavia which was debuted all across the World. It’s been over 6-years of the Mark 3 and the car simply doesn’t feel as aged as the numbers might suggest. Timely updates to the equipment list and a proper facelift later, the Octavia still feels like it’s the king of D-segment.
Design Language - Exteriors
“Understated and Opulence” are those two words which define the way the Octavia looks. Due credits to Jozef Kaban, who designed the Bugatti Veyron, was in charge of the Octavia's looks. The pre-facelift was a clean design with sharp lines and beautiful details which would please all and offend none. The facelift, however, tried to spruce things up with a simple and clean face making way to some more cuts and creases with a different Quad-headlamp setup (vs the Single unit on the pre-facelift). Changes have also been made to the front bumper, bonnet and grille. The new headlight arrangement sure didpolarize opinions but it did grow on me overtime (so much so that the pre-facelift feels a bit too Plane-Jane now).
At work, me and fellow reviewer and our founder, Nilesh Sawant always debated on this very aspect where he took the side of his 2016 Skoda Octavia vs I on the other end who took the side of the current model on sale because owners defend their choices as expected (me being a future owner of one!).
The side profile largely remains unchanged. The side profile of the Octavia presents smooth straight surfaces and crystalline edges that rise to command a bold view. It speaks Skoda’s design language fluently. The only noticeable change on the side profile would be the newer 16-inch Alcatras Alloy wheels which come fitted only on the top-of-the-line Laurin & Klement (L&K) variant only.
The rear profile, too, is largely unchanged except for the fact that the facelift now comes with a slightly redesigned bumper and a new tail-light design. The tweaked all-LED taillight clusters continue to house Skoda's C motif element, though the tail-lamp housing is all-new.
For those who are into the number game, the Octavia measures 2,017-mm in width, 4,670-mm in length while it measures 1,476-mm in height. The wheelbase stands at 2,688-mm; which means there’s a lot of space for your family on the inside.
A truimp card that Skoda Octavia has up its sleeve, has to be it’s mind bogglingly huge boot space. At 590 liters of boot space, not only is it class leading, but it’s notchback design ensures that loading and unloading of luggage is fuss free.
Design Language- Interiors
The Octavia gladly welcomes you on-board with the doors opening real wide in-order to aide better ingress (and egress). The moment you step-in, you realize the amount of room this car packs in is simply impressive. As is the norm for a car from this segment, the Octavia gets soft touch plastics on the top of the dash, as well as the door pads. Most of the interior feels properly screwed together, but you do see some areas which could have been better. The glove box for example requires a firm push; else it remains half open from the extreme left side.
The dashboard design is simplistic while it manages to be contemporary at the same time. The L&K trim gets a dual-tone Black and beige dashboard while the rest of the interiors are finished in beige; while the Onyx Edition gets an all-Black interiors. The doors now get brushed aluminum inserts which also double up as Ambient Lightning strips in the might.
The Octavia comes equipped with a dual-zone Climate Control to keep you and your passenger comfortable in their respective comfort zones. The leather seats are a great place to be in while they offer the right amount of comfort. Both the front seats are electrically-adjustable and finding your right position is as easy as it can get. Both these seats are 12-way adjustable while the driver’s seat also gets memory function in addition to this. To add a breath of fresh air on your weekend getaways in a pollution-free hill-station, the L&K trim gets a Panoramic Sunroof which adds up to the airy feel of the cabin. The rear seat is also a very good place to be in, with more than adequate legroom, headroom and shoulder-room on offer. For those who don’t feel like taking the wheel can easily set themselves up and relax in the rear seat of the car while the chauffeur would do the job of driving-around for you.
The L&K also gets a Virtual Display for the instrumentation. The Display is crisp and great to look at and is loaded with a lot of information. The display can also double-up as a navigation screen which doesn’t require you take your eyes off-the-wheel.
In Car Entertainment
The Octavia comes equipped with an 8-inch Capacitive Touchscreen display for infotainment system which comes equipped with a host of features. The touchscreen comes equipped with Smart-link from Skoda which bundles Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for the users making it easy for them while they’re on the move. The Touchscreen also gets the Media Command App with BossConnect allows you to control the infotainment system on your phone. This feature is integrated into the Amundsen infotainment system and also allows people in the back to operate the functions using their smart-phones.
The top-end L&K also comes equipped with a 9-speaker Audio system from Canton which does a very good job. It also comes with a subwoofer which completes the package of a good-sounding audio system. The audio is crystal clear with the sorted highs, mids and lows. The vocals are very clear and every lyric can be heard clearly. There is enough bass on offer for those bass lovers while those who appreciate mid and treble aren’t disappointed either.
As with the cars these days, Bluetooth Connectivity for your phones or iPods is available while one can also play their audio tracks via USB or SD-card slots provided. The touchscreen also doubles-up as the display for your parktronic system. Only irritant of this system being that when you’re in stop-go traffic and there’s a car not-so-ahead of you or behind you, the system beeps to alert the user. While it’s a handy feature to have, it can get a bit annoying in such situations because your music stops and you have to disable this manually using a button.
Performance- Engine and Gearbox
The flagship engine for the Octavia is undoubtedly the 1.8L TSI petrol. This EA888 motor share the same model number as the earlier 1.8 TSI, but is now in its 3rd generation. The engine puts out a very healthy 178-hp out while the torque figures stand at 250-NM. This engine is mated to a 7-speed Dry Clutch Direct Shift Gearbox (DQ200) from the Volkswagen family.
The Octavia also offers two other engines as an option to choose from. A smaller 1.4L TSI motor which is restricted to the lower variants and is only be had with a Manual Transmission while an oil-burner Diesel is a 2.0L TDI engine which is mated to a 6-speed Wet Clutch Direct Shift Gearbox (DQ250) while a performance-oriented version of the Octavia is expected to go on sale soon (a.l.a vRS) which is expected to come equipped with a 2.0L TSI engine which is expected to put out a staggering 245-hp on the tarmac!
Our prime focus in this review would be the 1.8L TSI engine which is mated to a 7-speed Dual Clutch DSG Gearbox. The Octavia 1.8 isn't the quietest when fired up, with a faint whine heard on the inside. You really have to pay attention to notice it though. Slot the gear lever into D and a slight dab on the accelerator is enough for you to realize there is something special under the hood. Engine response to your right foot is instantaneous. It’s easy to be in "D" mode and not realize the speeds you’re doing. Acceleration is brutal from a standstill, and the motor revs up to its 6,500 rpm redline effortlessly. The engine note is so addictive that you can’t help but floor the accelerator whenever you see an empty stretch, ending up with a huge grin plastered across your face.
The gearbox is quick to upshift and will engage 6th gear even at speeds as slow as 60 kph. While this is good for mileage, it can get irritating in traffic, because the box then has to downshift 2 (sometimes 3) gears when quick acceleration is required. 1st gear in the DSG appears to be extremely short, whereas 2nd seems taller. The gearbox tries to slip the clutch and waits for the turbo to kick-in for the downshift from 2nd to 1st to happen. But the things go for a toss the moment you engage the Sport mode. The gearbox is eager to deliver you power at all times and keeps the turbo spooling and that can be addictive! In Sports mode, the gearbox holds onto lower ratios longer and will not upshift easily. Depending on how heavy you are with the right foot, you can hold the gear till the redline. Sports mode is also very eager to kick-down and will drop a few gears at the slightest tickle of the accelerator.
Performance- Ride, Handling & Drivability
The Octavia gets a lovely multilink suspension at the rear which makes this car such a beauty to drive around the twisties. While it may not be very prominent in the city speeds, it comes to life on its own on the corners and twisties. Throw the car around the corner and you will find yourself grinning like a guy who’s just been sent to a mental asylum! The car feels agile and is always on its tips to execute your command.
Ride quality in the city speeds is excellent. The car rides flat on most of the undulations while not letting you know how deep those undulations are. Low speed ride is decent as it manages to filter-out those small potholes and keep them at bay.
What I would have loved was if the steering gave absolutely precise feedback as to what the tires were up to. Don’t get me wrong here, I am nowhere saying its bad however, it doesn’t feel German enough. This can be attributed to electro mechanical steering wheel partly, partly to the tires and lastly partly to the weight reduction.
So for whom is the Skoda Octavia really for? To know the answer to this question, I went back to our founder, as he has been using one since last 3 years, so that he could give me his perspective of why he chose the Skoda then and would he choose the Skoda now. And this was our conversation.
VC: Hey Chief.
NS: Yo mate.
VC: I am not able to figure out, whom is the car for, what do you think?
NS: So where all did you use the car?
VC: I took it around city, and I did take it on open stretches outside the city.
NS: Hmm, so how did you find the car in the city?
VC: Well, the Octavia gels well in the city traffic, she’s happy to potter around the sea of cars without being fussy about it. Here I appreciated how Skoda has paid attention to the finer details in the car. Whether it’s the super crisp Digital Instrument Console, that throws gigantic volume of data to you as a driver, or the super capacitive touch screen of infotainment, which is much more responsive than my phone, or the soothing ambient lights all around with 10 color options, or my music library which sounds, well- awesome, or the way car insulates me from everything outside. And yes, while I am experiencing all this, all times, I am aware of the fact that I had 180 horses under that hood, ready to pounce any time, at the slightest dab to the accelerator.
NS: Hmm, so what happened on those open stretches?
VC: Aaah, I wish I could go back to those twisties and open stretches, the car just comes to life on free stretches, and the way things move faster in the opposite direction, well, its phenomenal. The car holds the line, as if she was built for it, the multi link suspension is phenomenal and aids in ensuring she’s a point and shoot machine, now is not the time to enjoy finer details, but to focus on road, as this car which was docile in city traffic, has really become mental.
NS: Aha, so ok to handover the car, drop it off to my garage tomorrow.
VC: Err, can we extend the car, can you check with Skoda please?
VC: Well, just can’t get enough of her, want to keep going back to her…
NS: Well, here’s your answer then, to whom does this car belong, it belongs to someone who wants more from his/her car, wishes to keep going back to her again and again, deliberately takes longer routes to reach destination and arrives whether at parties or office gatherings or board meetings, in style. As not only does it have the show, but she goes also in Style, unlike some of her competition.
VC: So, should I buy one then?
NS: the vRS is just around the corner….