Introduction: First introduced in Europe, Skoda Octavia came to life back in 1996. That was the first generation, which was also introduced in India by 2001. Second generation was introduced in 2004. For Europe, the first gen was discontinued to make way for second gen Octavia, but for India, second gen Octavia was launched as Laura, to be sold alongside the first gen Octavia. First gen Octavia and second gen Octavia both existed along side till 2010, which is when the former was discontinued. Laura was offered in a higher price segment as compared to first gen Octavia, and with the launch of new Octavia, Laura will be discontinued in India.
2013 Skoda Octavia: Bigger, better and more powerful than previous generation variants, the third generation of Octavia will be offered in a choice of two petrol and two diesel trims in India. For petrol, buyers in the country, they have the option of manual 1.4l TSI generating 140 PS and 250 Nm torque, or 1.8l TSI automatic with 180 PS and 250 Nm torque. For diesel, there is only one engine, but two transmission options, manual and automatic. The diesel engine is Volkswagen Group’s one of the best seller, 2.0l TDI offering 143 PS and 320 Nm torque. All four variants are offered with front wheel drive.
Exteriors Design and Built: Built on the latest of VW Group’s MQB (Modularer QuerBaukasten in German) platform, the new Octavia is more aggressive, spacious, longer, wider and lighter than the second gen Octavia. The front features new grille with new Skoda logo. Body lines on the bonnet and sides are much sharper and bolder. Bi-Xenon headlights with LED DRLs match the new aggressive stance in the front, while at the rear, you have the new ‘C’ shaped headlights, which is part of Skoda language, that first featured on the Roomster / Fabia in 2006. Other than this, Octavia features body colored bumpers, external mirrors and door handles across all trims. Two types of alloys are on offer, 16″ 5 spoke for Ambition and Elegance, and 16″ 10 spoke for Active.
To be precise, the new Octavia is 90 mm longer, 45 mm wider, and 103 kgs lighter. It also features a longer wheelbase, by 108 mm. Overall dimensions of new Octavia stand at 4569 mm long, 1814 mm wide, 1476 mm tall, wheelbase 2688 mm and ground clearance of 155 mm. Storage capacity on the inside too is increased. Boot offers 590 liters of space, while when you lower the rear seats, this space is increased to 1580 liters. Depending on the variant, kerb weight ranges from 1260 kgs to 1395 kgs, while gross weight ranges from 1820 kgs to 1915 kgs.
Interiors, Comfort, Technology Security and Safety: Once you are inside the new Octavia, the first thing you come across, is the clean design. Getting in and getting out of the car is hassle free. Storing bottles/cans is easy as there are 8 pockets to store them. As the overall dimensions have increased, interiors too offer more space. Compared to 2nd gen Octavia, knee room is increased by 73 mm, head room (rear) increased to 980 mm, front head room by 8 mm, front elbow width by 39 mm, rear elbow width by 26 mm.
Apart from offering the maximum space to it’s passengers in the segment, 2013 Octavia also features premium interiors like leather seats, panoramic sunroof, wood design decor, steering mounted controls, color touchscreen, surround sound music system, adaptive frontlight system, multi collision braking, ABS, airbags (front, side and curtain), electronic brake distribution, motor speed regulation, anti slip regulation, electronic stability control, door open indicator, remote foldable keys, engine immobilizer, USB, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity, eight speakers, rear ac vents, climate control, and much more.
Driving Octavia: All the above comforts on one side and driving the new Octavia on other. This is a driver’s car, there is no doubt in that. Once behind the wheel, you will not take much long to realize that the new Octavia is a totally different car, as compared to first gen Octavia, or the Laura. This is much more dynamic and powerful, especially the manual variants. Power delivery in manual is seamless, thanks to 6 speed fully synchronized gearbox. NVH levels are good, you will hardly notice the difference when the petrol motor is running and when it is not.
As far as power delivery in the automatic variants is concerned, the DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox or Direkt-Schalt-Getriebe in German) fails to impress. Your misery is further added when you realize that there are no shift pedals. This is surprising, especially when you consider that the Skoda Superb was one of the first car’s in the segment in India to offer gear shit pedals for automatic variants.
In the 2.0 TDI (A), the transmission is taken care by a six speed DSG with Tiptronic manual gear changing, while in 1.8 TSI (A), transmission is taken care by a seven speed DSG with Tiptronic manual gear changing. The purpose of installing a DSG gearbox is to achieve faster gear shifts, but while driving the automatic variants of new Octavia, the gearshifts seemed sluggish, more like a single clutch gearbox.
As far as suspension setting is concerned, the new Octavia features McPherson suspension with lower triangular links and torsion stabilizer in the front, but for rear, it has compound link rear axle. This is what makes it a little uncomfortable for rear seat passengers, especially when driving through ghat section and bumpy surface. But, the same cannot be said for 1.8 TSI, as this one features a multi-axle suspension on the rear, making life much easier for rear seat passengers. This also indicates that the 1.8 TSI is a chauffeur driven material.
Mileage: 2013 Octavia has a 50 liter fuel tank. As per Skoda, 2013 Skoda 1.4 TSI delivers 16.8 kmpl, 1.8 TSI (A) delivers 14.7 kmpl, 2.0 TDI (M) delivers 20.6 kmpl and 2.0 TDI (A) delivers 19.3 kmpl. But these tests were conducted in closed environment. While driving through the tough Himachal terrain, we managed to get 10 kmpl for 1.4 TSI, 7.5 kmpl for 1.8 TSI (A), 14 kmpl for 2.0 TDI (M) and 12.5 kmpl for 2.0 TDI (A). Of course, the mileage achieved by us is not under real world driving conditions as the car was kept running while taking photos.
Trims, features and Color options: Just like other Skoda models on offer in India, the new Octavia is also offered in a choice of three trims, Active (base), Ambition and Elegance (top). Sadly, if you want to go for the Elegance option, you will have no other option but to choose automatic, as Elegance is not on offer for manual variants.
Features that will be on offer only in the Elegance option, rear decklid spoiler (1.8 TSI), Bi-Xenon headlights, LED DRLs, tyre pressure monitoring, front park sensors, side and curtain airbags, sunroof with remote control, electrically adjustible driver seat with memory function and lumbar support, retractable screen for rear windscreen, storage compartment under front passenger seat, and cruise control.
Octavia Active misses out on wood design decor on the front console panel and doors, light assistant, DRLs, automatically dimming interior rear view mirror, park assist, Electronic Differential Lock, Multi Collision Braking, Skoda audio player with 5.8″ color touchscreen, (instead features Skoda Swing audio player), steering mounted audio controls, climate control, leather seat upholstery, electrically foldable external rear view mirrors, Bluetooth, front wiper with rain and sensor.
A total of 7 color options are on offer, three of which are new to the Octavia range. These 7 options are, Brilliant Silver, Candy White, Cappuccino Beige, Magic Black, Rio Red (new), Metal Grey (new), and Race Blue (new).
Pricing and Competition: Price of new Octavia is yet to be revealed as the car is not launched yet. To be launched in the coming weeks, bookings of new Octavia have already begun. Skoda dealers across India are accepting bookings for 2013 Octavia for an advance payment of Rs 50,000 (depending on dealer). Deliveries are expected to commence immediately after launch, which will take place in the festive season, during which car sales soar. Expect a price range of Rs 14.5 lakh to Rs 19 lakh ex-showroom.
As far as competition is concerned, the new Octavia will compete with the likes of Volkswagen Jetta, Chevrolet Cruze, Hyundai Elantra, and Toyota Corolla Altis. The segment sees about 1500-2000 unit average sales per month in India. Not only Skoda India expects the new Octavia to become best seller in the segment, but also their best selling car in the country, which currently is Rapid (with monthly average sales of 1,000 units). This is very much possible considering what the new Octavia offers. Apart from this, 2013 Octavia might also give competition to a segment above itself which features Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata, Skoda Superb, and Volkswagen Passat, considering the huge fan following Octavia has in India.
Image gallery of the new Skoda Octavia from media drive held during 9/10 Sep 2013 along the scenic Himachal route of Parwanoo – Chail – Shimla.