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      2021 Skoda Octavia First Drive Review

      Desirazu Venkat

      Desirazu Venkat

      Engine and Performance

      Why I would buy it?

      Space and Practicality

      Ride quality

      Why I would avoid it?

      No diesel engine

      No sunroof

      Skoda since the advent of BS6 been offering only petrol power and so the Octavia gets a 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit that produces 188bhp/320Nm that’s channelled to the front wheels via a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. It’s the same unit in the Superb and the Kodiaq.

      Now this engine has two roles in this modern generation of the Octavia, it’s meant to provide a smooth driving experience along with fuel economy but at the same time also retain the fun-to-drive factor that has been present in Octavias of the last two decades. In terms of smooth driving experience, this one is right up there with hardly any vibrations from the engine, and at city speeds, you hardly notice that it is running in the background.  

      Skoda Octavia Engine Shot

      The seven-speed DSG gearbox is very intuitive and is such that you don’t need to really intervene and it will always ensure that you are in the thick of the action. However, get on the gas when you need to make a quick overtake or up the pace and everything lights up super quick giving an ample amount of punch to make that overtake and keep going after that. The ample amount of torque means that you can comfortably cruise at three-digit speeds for sustained periods.

      Skoda Octavia Left Side View

      We tested the Octavia for performance and discovered that it did the 0-100kmph acceleration run in 8.29 seconds. Whereas the gear acceleration from 20kmph to 80kmph took 4.64 seconds and the 40-100kmph came up in 5.53 seconds. Both the in-gear kick-down timings indicate a large amount of useable performance available quite early in the rev-range. In terms of fuel efficiency, it gave 7.48kmpl in city conditions and 14.46kmpl in highway conditions.

      Ride and Handling

      Skoda Octavia Left Front Three Quarter

      This Skoda Octavia is underpinned by McPherson struts at the front and a multi-link setup at the rear. It gets disc brakes on all four wheels and the car that we have driven for the review is an L&K variant with 18-inch wheels.

      Skoda Octavia Right Rear Three Quarter

      The Octavia rides really well absorbing a lot of the bumps and imperfections that dot our road with an ease that would surprise you in a car like this. It’s only when the going gets really rough that you tend to be a bit more cautious but even then the car settles quickly. It’s a similar story at high speeds where the car held its own even over the larger undulations.

      Skoda Octavia Wheel

      The steering is devoid of feeling in the dead-ahead position but gets progressive as you go faster. It is quite accurate but we would have liked more feel from the steering for a more involved driving experience. Finally, the disc brakes all around give some solid stopping power even with repeated use. In our test figures, it came to a halt from 100kmph in a brisk 3.39 seconds and within 42 metres. 

      Exterior

      Skoda Octavia Right Front Three Quarter

      The Skoda Octavia is most recognisable for its face and in this generation, Skoda has ditched the split headlamps for the single-piece rectangular units with LED lights and DRLs. The shape of the lights is now quite similar across the Skoda range and pays tribute to the glass industry of the Czech Republic. While the front of the car has grown bigger, these lines have become softer and thus the Skoda looks even bigger than before. The signature Skoda grille has taken a more rounded shape and looks premium thanks to this large chrome surround.

      Skoda Octavia Right Rear Three Quarter

      There’s a restrained European subtlety when you look at this Gen-4 Octavia in profile. The forward-leaning stance and flared wheel arches of the previous car have been restrained but are still there and lend suitable sportiness to the overall appearance. This being the higher priced L&K version, you get badging on the side and these very busy-looking 17-inch wheels which Skoda has named Pulsar black and kept only for this L&K trim. While the side and the face have undergone major changes, the rear has visibly evolved from the previous generation getting bigger and rounder but with a little less drama.

      Comfort convenience and Features

      Skoda Octavia Dashboard

      Let’s start the interiors by highlighting two major aspects- the first is that while the Octavia is grown in overall length by 30mm, its wheelbase has dropped by 17mm and while that might seem odd, it’s a negligible number considering that the Octavia is actually a pretty huge car with lots of room inside. The second aspect is that this new-gen Octavia can be had in India in two trim levels- Style and the more luxurious L&K variant which is what we have on review today.

      Skoda Octavia Front Row Seats

      Minimalist yet purposeful, that’s perhaps the best way I can sum up the interiors of this new generation Octavia. The whole cabin has been trimmed out in beige over black which is pretty much been an Octavia mainstay for years now and there’s no badging or an overdose of chrome or shiny plastics - just clean smooth lines in a vertically stacked orientation.

      Skoda Octavia Infotainment System

      The plastics used are consistent for the segment with all the touch surfaces on point in terms of the quality, fit and finish. It is similar in terms of ergonomics with everything falling easily to hand whether you are in the driver’s seat or the passenger seat. As has become the case with many cars nowadays, the highlight of the entire dashboard is the two large screens. The right one runs Skoda’s virtual cockpit while the screen on the left is the infotainment system. The infotainment screen at 10-inches is the largest yet that Skoda has ever fitted to the Octavia and comes with the usual features like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Mirror link, wireless connectivity, vehicle health, and of course connected car technology via in-sim-card and a dedicated mobile app that offers a variety of services along the lines of driver assessment, car services and general information.  

      Skoda Octavia Second Row Seats

      Large car, lots of room at the rear- that’s how the Skoda Octavia has always been and this one is no different at all. You get lots of legroom, knee room and under-thigh support while actually sitting low due to the design of the roofline. You can have three in the back but with a high transmission tunnel and these prominent rear AC vents, it’s a place best suited for two.

      Skoda Octavia Front Centre Air Vents

      You get some decent kit in the form of the rear AC vents, foot AC vents, centre armrest with cup holders, large bottle holders in both the doors and these two pockets on the back of the front seat that can hold your mobile phone. One of the major selling points of the Octavia is its cavern-like boot that’s 600-litres with the seats up and expands to massive 1580-litres with the seats folded down. It adds a massive amount of practicality to the car.  

      Skoda Octavia Open Boot/Trunk

      One of Octavia’s other major selling points is its feature list, especially in this fully loaded L&K variant. We have already seen the climate control system, touchscreen infotainment system, virtual cockpit and leather upholstery. In addition, you get ambient lighting, an 11 speaker Canton sound system, cooled glove box, powered front seats, cruise control, auto park function and in the long-standing tradition of Skoda cars, a slot to dry umbrellas in the front door. On the safety front, this top-spec model gets seven airbags, an electronic stability programme, a tyre-pressure monitoring system as well as front and rear parking sensors.      

      Conclusion

      Skoda Octavia Front View

      The Skoda Octavia as a car has completed two decades in the Indian car market and that’s a long time for any vehicle. However, the world that the first India-spec Octavia came into is very different from the world that the new Octavia has been born into. This fourth-generation car has to fight a line of fast selling SUVs for market share. In this respect, on the downside, it has no diesel option, lacks a sunroof and could do with more features for the rear occupants. However, it is also fast, comfortable, sufficiently loaded with features and will always stand out due to it being a sedan among a crop of SUVs. At the time of writing this review, the Octavia range was priced in the range of Rs 26.29 lakh to Rs 30 lakh.

      Photography: Kapil Angane

      Skoda Octavia
      Skoda Octavia ₹ 26.29 Lakh Onwards
      Skoda | Octavia | Skoda Octavia | Octavia 2.0 L&K