Octavia 2017

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Review: 2017 Skoda Octavia

Driven July 2017

Review: 2017 Skoda Octavia

The Octavia is Skoda's highest selling car ever. It has sold over five million units of the Octavia globally and the car is still doing well. The last generation Octavia hasn't gotten too old yet, but Skoda has decided it's one for an update and the result is this – the new Octavia. Let's see what's what.

Looks and features
The front end is all new. New air-dams, new headlights, new fog-lamps, new hood. The overall idea was to add some muscle to the design and this has worked. The sculpted bumper and other minute design changes give the car more character. The most glaring change is the headlight. The new unit gets a split design that separates the high and low beams. The DRLs are still present and so are the fog lamps that double up as cornering lamps. The design itself is rather polarising and will take some getting used to. That said, it isn't bad to look at and will easily stand out in the crowd.

The rear too gets minor tweaks and while the overall design stays true to the family style, there have been subtle changes to the taillight and bumper. The sides too remains largely unchanged except for some fresh lines and chrome bits.

Inside, the cabin hasn't changed much. The materials are still top notch and the design makes it a very pleasant and classy place to be in. The infotainment unit is new with a 8-inch touchscreen system that integrates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also comes with built-in navigation. The Octavia now gets an ambient lighting function that lets you choose from ten different colours as well as a panoramic sun roof. Like before, only the driver gets electrically adjustable seats. The seats itself are comfortable as always and the rear passengers have enough space to stretch out.


The Octavia comes loaded with all kinds of tech too. It gets automated parking, a fatigue alert system, eight airbags, ABS, EBD, stability control and enough sensors all around to put some airplanes to shame.

Ride and handling
The Octavia now gets different suspension across variants. Only the top end petrol variant will get independent suspension at the rear. All other variants will use a compound link crank axle at the rear. We drive the petrol with the independent suspension and it felt as great as always. The car is vey responsive to inputs and has immense amounts of traction on offer. Turn in is quick and there isn't any significant body roll. One complaint is that the steering now feels quite dead. It responds to inputs, but there isn't a lot of feedback coming at you. This, along with the lightness of the steering, affects high speed confidence. The car remains well behaved, but the confidence is lacking.

What is really wonderful is that despite being such a great handling car, Skoda has managed to endow the Octavia with excellent ride quality. It glides over our roads without ever letting the occupants know what they're travelling over. Even over badly surfaced roads and expansion joints, you can almost not tell the bad state of the surface you're on. The Elantra has set the benchmark in this department but the Octavia could be just a bit better. Could be…

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Engine and performance
Skoda will bring the Octavia with two petrol and one diesel motor with a choice of two auto and one manual gearbox. The 1.4 TSI motor will be available with 6-speed manual while the 1.8 TSI motor will only get a 7-speed DSG ‘box. The 2.0 TDI will be available with a 6-speed manual or DSG ‘box.

We drove the car with the 1.8 TSI motor and it proved to be as incredible as ever. With no changes being made to the engine, the 1798cc turbo-petrol motor makes roughly 177bhp and 250Nm of torque. There is no noticeable lag in power delivery and the engine is raring to go right from low down on the rev range, all the way up to the redline. The gearbox too is great for driving fast with the shifts arriving super quick with a pleasant kick when shifting up at the redline in the first few gears. That said, if you're in the mood for some relaxed driving, this engine does that extremely well too. The motor is so smooth and silent when driven peacefully that you can almost not tell it is running. The gearbox too adapts very well to this kind of use. The shifts are smooth and there is no break in acceleration through gear shifts.

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Verdict
The new Octavia remains just as sweet a car as its predecessors were. It handles great, rides exceptionally well, performs strongly and has a ton of features. The combination is enough to make some Hyundais and Toyotas a little worried. That odd front end notwithstanding.

Specs
Skoda Octavia 1.8 TSI
1798cc 4cyl turbo-petrol, 177bhp, 250Nm, 7-speed DSG
LxWxH: 4670mm X 1814mm X 1476mm; ground clearance: 155mm, fuel tank: 50 litres, Rs 15.5-22.9 lakh (ex-showroom)



Ashok George

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