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      2017 Skoda Octavia First Drive Review

      Desirazu Venkat

      Desirazu Venkat

      Opening

      The Skoda Octavia is back in the limelight and this time around, it has returned as a mid-life update. The changes to the car are fully cosmetic and give this entry-level luxury sedan a much need leg up. The facelift also arrives at a time when the Octavia’s traditional home ground in the D-segment is being slowly taken over by SUVs. In the face of such heavy transitions, what does the Octavia facelift bring to the table that would keep the D-segment sedan choice going? Read on to find out.

      2017 Skoda Octavia First Drive Review

      Appearance Exterior

      The biggest change to the appearance of the Skoda Octavia is the face. The signature moustache grille has been updated with a new design and now gets a piece of thick black plastic under the logo. One might, in fact, call it facial plastic surgery eh? The changes on the face continue in the form of a split head lamp assembly. The divided look adds some sharpness to the overall appearance thanks to the shape of the indicator lamps next to the grille.  Finally, the fog lamps have got a new shape and have been wedged above a chrome strip that runs along the length of the grille.

      2017 Skoda Octavia First Drive Review

      On the side, it is business as usual, thanks to the familiar forward sloping silhouette which defined the model in this generation. The softly flared wheel arches lend some muscle to the overall look while the glass section has now got a chrome beading running along its lower half and this little change has enhanced the premium factor of the car.  The rear remains largely unchanged with the only major difference being that the tail lamps have become wider but still retain their unique C-shape that give the Octavia a distinct look when seen from behind.

      2017 Skoda Octavia First Drive Review

      Appearance Interior

      If there is one thing that has held the Octavia in good stead, it is the interiors. Since its arrival here nearly 16 years ago, the earlier Octavia, later the Laura, and now the new Octavia, have always been known for good build quality and decent features.

       2017 Skoda Octavia First Drive Review


      Firstly, the car we drove was a fully loaded top-of-the-line model with a whole load of bells, whistles and even a few hoots.

      2017 Skoda Octavia First Drive Review
       


      This list includes multi-zone climate control, electric adjustment for the driver’s seat, 10 shade ambient lighting wood door garnish and new air-con vents. There is an all new touchscreen infotainment system now with an eight-inch display as compared to the older car’s 6.5-inch display. It’s now has just two physical buttons. The capacitive screen responds excellently to touch and the graphics are crisp and smooth. This is a big step forward from the system offered by the Octavia’s Japanese and Korean rivals in this part of the market.  

       2017 Skoda Octavia First Drive Review

       
      Also new to this car is the parking assist system that works with 12 sensors and the camera to the guide their driver into a parallel parking space. This is pretty much the first car in this part of the market to be offered with this technology.

       2017 Skoda Octavia First Drive Review


      The cabin is a dual tone beige-and-black affair making it a pleasant and sunny affair when you sit both in the front and back. The 4.6-metre length and 2.6-metre wheelbase means you have plenty of room in front, but the space for the middle rear passenger is a bit compromised due to the placing of the AC vents and the transmission tunnel.

       2017 Skoda Octavia First Drive Review


      The Octavia has always been high on the practicality quotient and its biggest selling point is, of course, the 590-litre boot which can be expanded to 1580-litres by folding down the rear seats. Added to this is the fact that the car is a notchback which means, the rear section all the way to the glass area can be lifted for better access. Finally, there are loads of small storage spaces like cup holders and even a dustbin (in the front door card) in and around the cabin 

      Performance Drive

      The Skoda Octavia in India is offered with three engine options - a 1.4-litre petrol, a 1.8-litre petrol and a 2.0-litre diesel. The smaller petrol and the diesel can be had with a six-speed manual while the 1.8-litre petrol is only offered with a seven-speed DSG and this is the car we managed to get our hands on.

      2017 Skoda Octavia First Drive Review


      While the 2.0-litre diesel may be the more popular selling and economical option, it is the 1.8-litre TSI engine that really gives the Octavia an identity. In the days before the diesel prices were deregulated, this was known as a fun option but now with an increase in people buying petrol cars, this looks to be an important choice once again.

      2017 Skoda Octavia First Drive Review
       


      This is a turbocharged four-cylinder mill and it produces 178bhp/250Nm of torque and is mated to a seven-speed DSG.    With 250Nm torque available at as low as 1300rpm, you get off the line with just a bit of mild turbo lag. On one hand, you get some decent mid-range cruising ability and the engine hardly needs any cajoling and shifts just past the 3000rpm mark even on part throttle input. However, mash the throttle for some go-fast action and this Czech-German beast comes alive and screaming. It holds on to the revvs all the way up to the 6000rpm mark before shifting up and this results in you moving into the three-digit speed range much faster than you would have expected. To enhance the driving fun, Skoda has fitted this model with paddle shifters which respond instantly and are a great boon to the driving experience.

       2017 Skoda Octavia First Drive Review


      Of the three engines offered with the Octavia, the 1.8-litre petrol variant is the only one that is offered with a multi-link independent rear suspension. This little bit is a great boon to the overall driving experience and really enhances the handling of the car especially if you get the chance to throw it around some twisted hilly roads like the ones we found outside Chandigarh where we drove the car. Adding to the fun is the electric steering which feels direct and quick allowing you to make quick direction changes. 

       2017 Skoda Octavia First Drive Review


      Skoda also says that it had widened the rear track of the car by 30mm for this model and by 20mm for the 1.4-litre unit and 2.0-litre diesel models.    

       2017 Skoda Octavia First Drive Review

             
      The handling ability has come at a slight cost which is that the ride quality on this facelifted Octavia has been setup to be on the stiffer side, but in a way that isn’t back or deal breaking. Instead what you get is an assured clunk and a setup that will settle down quickly if you push the car through imperfections, pot holes and bumps.

      Tech Specs

      Make Skoda
      Model Octavia
      Fuel Petrol
      Variant 1.8 TSI Style Plus
      Engine Capacity 1.8-litre
      Max. Power (bhp@rpm) 177 @ 4500
      Max. torque (Nm@rpm) 250 @ 1250
      Gears  Seven-speed
      Length mm 4659
      Width mm 1814
      Height mm 1476
      Wheelbase mm 2688
      Fuel Capacity (in litres) 50
      Tyre size 205/55 R16

       

      Features

      Features  
      8.0-inch touchscreen Yes
      Handsfree parking Yes
      580-litre boot Yes
      Two-zone climate control Yes
      Button start Yes
      Leather seats Yes

       

      Competition All Specs

      Make Hyundai Toyota
      Model Elantra Cororlla Altis
      Variant SX (O) AT VL AT
      Fuel Petrol Petrol
      Engine Capacity 2.0-litre 1.8-litre
      Max. Power (bhp@rpm) 150 @ 6200 138 @ 6400
      Max. torque (Nm@rpm) 192 @ 4000 173 @ 4000
      Gears  Six Seven
      Length mm 4570 4620
      Width mm 1800 1775
      Height mm 1465 1475
      Wheelbase mm 2700 2700
      Fuel Capacity (in litres) 50 55
      Tyre size 205/60 R16 205/ 55 R16

       

      Conclusion

      Has Skoda done enough to keep the Octavia relevant in our ‘dynamic’ market of today? We certainly like to believe so as it was quite a good product in its segment and now with these updates, both in terms of design and features, the Octavia certainly seems to have inched ahead in the game once again. However, what will work in favour of the sedan is good pricing which, if GST does its work, will allow Skoda to price the Octavia in the range of Rs 15 lakh to Rs 22 lakh, thus making it excellent value for money.

      2017 Skoda Octavia First Drive Review

      Photos By : Kapil Angane

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