2017 Skoda Octavia – First Drive Review
Tarun Tripathy, Tarun has competed in the Raid De Himalayas, holds a national record for endurance driving and trained in the advance levels of the Mercedes AMG driving academy.
The third generation Skoda Octavia was launched in October 2013 to much praise from the automotive community around the world. In India, it was the return of a nameplate that virtually established the Skoda brand in the early 2000’s when the first-generation Octavia came along.
Long after, the Octavia made a comeback to our shores, and ever since, it has been the most explosive performance machine money can buy under the 50-lakh mark. And now, with a number of mid-life upgrades, the Octavia has further cemented its hallow.
The Octavia has gone under the knife and returned with a fresh front end, and a revised rear. The most potent of changes include the new all-LED quad headlamps up front that look a lot more striking in person than when seen in pictures. Bumpers at the front and the rear have been tweaked to add more sharpness, and every illumination element around the car is now in LED format.
The tail lights are new and feel a lot more premium to behold, when compared to the outgoing car. On that note, the outgoing car’s rear end was far too similar to the Rapid, which isn’t much of a case anymore. Onto the sides, everything remains the same barring the alloy wheels, which carry a new profile now.
A new 8” touchscreen infotainment system has made its way into the Octavia. Hands down, it features the best touch sensitivity for any vehicle in the Indian car market. The screen real estate is huge and impressive, but surrounded by a lot of piano black finish, which loves your finger prints and hates flash photography. As before, pretty much every aspect of the car can be controlled from this system. It carries navigation from Amundsen and comes equipped with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The outgoing model used to carry a 6-CD changer in the glovebox, in an era where everybody had turned to either USB or Bluetooth. Skoda has removed the CD slot, but the equipment still lives inside the glovebox.
The audio output continues to be the best in the segment. The next new addition to the cabin is the ambient lighting, which gives you an option to illuminate the foot-wells and door lining in a choice of 10 colours. Smaller changes include a wooden garnish on the door pads and reconfigured cup-holders on the central armrest at the rear. Two shortcomings still remain: the floor hump for the exhaust is very intrusive for the middle passenger (155mm ground clearance adds to that), and the lack of under thigh support for rear bound passengers can get tiring on longer journeys. The rest of the cabin holds on to the excellent build quality and top-notch material selection.
Mechanical Changes & Feature Updates
The Octavia continues to carry the three engine options: 1.4 TSI, 2.0 TDI and the 1.8 TSI alongside manual and automatic gearbox options. These were very potent power plants to begin with and it doesn’t surprise that Skoda decided to continue with them. The rear track width has increased by 30mm for the 1.8 TSI model, and by 20mm for the rest of the line-up. The rear suspension systems have been tweaked to improve high speed dynamics and reduce body roll. To accommodate the changes to the track width, wheel arches have been further enhanced on the Octavia.
A major feature addition to the segment is the inclusion of automatic parking. The Octavia can now parallel and perpendicular park itself via the application sensors spread around the body of the car.
Performance & Driving Impressions
The engine and gearbox options remain unchanged on the Octavia. We were very impressed when we first drove them four years ago, and nothing has changed in the ensuing period. The 1.4 TSI comes mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox, which is light and quick to slot itself into gates. The motor makes the exact same torque (250Nm) as the larger 1.8, and even though it is the lesser powered cousin, 147 hp is still a ton of power to go around.
And then, there is the diesel power plant which makes 141 hp and 320 Nm of torque and comes with either a 6-speed manual or 6 speed DSG option. The torque kicks-in at a low 1700 rpm, which squeals the tires on standing starts quite easily. Acceleration is eager and shooting past the 160 km/h mark is a breeze. When driven hard, the engine noise is on the higher side, and here is where we wished for a bit more isolation in the cabin.
The 1.8 TSI petrol makes 177 hp and 250 Nm of torque from a lowly 1250 rpm all the way up to 5000 rpm, which is a deep power pocket. And the result? One of the most excited and dedicated kilometre-per-hour needles that you will come across. It is hell-bent on reaching the other end of the speedometer without any pauses, on the back of a deep and pleasing engine note.
Irrespective of the power plant, the cabin of the Octavia continues to be a very refined place to be in. The steering weighs in beautifully with the speed and the suspension is setup ably to absorb most undulations out on the roads, with very little filtering into the cabin. High speed performance is very good, as the suspension & braking setup is spot on, with zero nervous corners. That said, it remains a surprise as to why Skoda updated the suspension bits and increased the rear track across the Octavia line up during a mid-life refresh. It is difficult to notice the change in driving dynamics caused due the mechanical changes, unless you drive both cars one after the other. And since we did not get a chance to do that, we would be unable to comment on it at this point.
The Octavia is very important for Skoda as it makes up more than 40% of their global sales. The amount of work put into developing the Octavia nameplate is clearly evident inside the car. You find the best of materials, a great build quality, and supreme functionality driven by common sense. There is very little to fault in the Octavia and most of it is subjective to the buyer. Yes, the diesel engine could have been quieter, and the rear seats more comfortable. But overall, the Octavia is the closest to a perfect machine. The competition, in the Toyota Corolla Altis and Hyundai Elantra, fails to meet the performance, build or the feature list available on the Octavia. And at an expected price ranging from INR 17 lakh to 24 lakh ex-showroom, the Octavia, for all that it offers – is a steal.
- Length: 4.67m
- Width: 1.81m
- Height: 1.47m
- Wheelbase: 2.688m
- Ground Clearance: 155mm
- Boot: 590 litres
- Boot (Seat Fold Down): 1580 litres
- Coefficient of Drag, cd: 0.297
Diesel: 2.0 TDI
- Transmission: 6 MT / 6 DSG Auto
- Power: 141 hp @ 3500-4000 rpm
- Torque: 320 Nm @ 1750-3000 rpm
- ARAI Certified Mileage: 21 km/l (Manual) / 19.5 km/l (Auto)
Petrol: 1.4 TSI
- Transmission: 6 MT
- Power: 147 hp @ 5000-6000 rpm
- Torque: 250 Nm @ 1500-3500 rpm
- ARAI Certified Mileage: 16.7 km/l
Petrol: 1.8 TSI
- Transmission: 7 DSG Auto
- Power: 177 hp @ 5100-6200 rpm
- Torque: 250 Nm @ 1250-5000 rpm
- ARAI Certified Mileage: 15.1 km/l
- Power Delivery: Front Wheel Drive
- Front Axle: McPherson Struts with lower triangular links and torsion stabiliser
- Rear Axle: Compound Link Crank Axle (1.4 TSI & 2.0 TDI), Multi Link (1 Longitudinal, 3 transverse, Torsion Stabiliser)
- Brakes: All Disc
- Steering: Rack and Pinion Type – Electro Mechanical
- Tyres: 205/55 R16 (Goodyear)
- Wheels: 6.5J x 16
- Kerb Weight (Kg): 1260 (1.4 TSI) / 1376 (1.8 TSI) / 1340 (2.0 MT) / 1395 (2.0 DSG)
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 Litres
- Turning Circle Diameter: 10.4m
- Driver Information Display
- Quadra-LED Headlamps
- AFS (Adaptive Front light System)
- Auto Headlamps
- Headlamps Washers
- LED DRLs
- Static Cornering Lights
- Panoramic Electric Sunroof
- Auto Interior Rear-View Mirrors (IRVM)
- Auto Exterior Rear-View Mirrors (ERVM)
- ERVM Defogger with Timer
- Automatic Parking (Parallel and Perpendicular)
- Key-less Entry with remote control operation of windows, door mirrors, sunroof
- 12-Way Electrically Adjustable Driver Seat (with memory)
- Dual Zone Climate Control with Rear A/c Vents
- AQS (Air Quality Sensor)
- Retractable Screen for Rear Windscreen (Manual)
- One Touch Up & Down Windows (All 4)
- Cruise Control
- Paddle Shifters Behind Steering Wheel (For Auto DSG Only)
- Rear View Camera
- Auto Rain Sensing Wipers
- ‘Follow Me Home’ Headlamps
- Boarding Spot Lamps
- 12 Colour Selectable Ambient Lighting (Foot-well, doors)
- USB Charging Ports (Front and Rear)
- Storage Compartment Under Front Seat
- Cooled Glovebox
- ABS (Anti-lock Braking System)
- EBD (Electronic Brake-force Distribution)
- HBA (Hydraulic Brake Assistant)
- ASR (Anti Slip Regulation)
- MSR (Motor Speed Regulation)
- EDL (Electronic Differential Lock)
- ESC (Electronic Stability Program)
- MKB (Multi Collision Braking)
- TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System)
- Hill Hold Control (HHC)
- 8 Airbags
- iBuzz Fatigue Alert
- 8” Colour Touchscreen Infotainment System
- SD Card/ USB/ Radio/ Bluetooth/ AUX-In
- Android Auto + Apple CarPlay
- SmartLink Compatible
- Proximity Sensor
- Amundsen Navigation System
- BossConnect via Skoda Media Command App
Warranty & Service
- 4 Year/ 1,00,000 Km Manufacturer Backed Additional Warranty
- 4 Year/ 60,000 Km Maintenance Package at Rs. 40,000