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Old 7th October 2004, 19:38   #1
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The reasoning behind the purchase.
Well, it was early January 2004 when the family decided that it was time to replace our ’96 Atlantic Blue Opel Astra for a new car. Although the Astra was running perfectly (and I had just changed the shocks and ignition module…grrr), with production of the Astra stopped and parts already so expensive, we figured this would be the correct time to cut our loses and sell it. That decision done, we now had to find its replacement.

As we could only keep 1 car, it needed to fulfil a lot of different requirements. Here were the criteria.
- Tough body and mechanicals to last atleast 8 years, as we don’t sell our cars soon!
- Large enough for 4 adults + luggage space for trips out of town.
- Not too big so as to make it a pain to drive in the city, where it would spend majority of its time.
- Fuel Efficient. Remember, we were shifting from an Astra which used to give barely 6 Kmpl in the city and costing us Rs.1,400 a week to run on average!!

Budget:
this was a bit flexible, but we did not look at spending more than 10.

The Contenders:
1. Chevy Forester.
This was our first choice. All the reviews suggested that this car fulfilled all our requirements and, as it was really not moving from the showroom, we figured we would get some good discounts. It was a wagon/SUV hybrid, so it had enough boot space. Its ride was terrific. It was a tough car. However, on going to the dealer to take a look at it, we found out its negatives. The rear seat is terrible. The bench is too short, so it has no under thigh support. Leg room was really bad too. You really felt trapped sitting back there. The front seats were perfect though, and it really felt like a drivers car.

Also, the question mark on long term support for the car in India, expensive spares, (again, flashbacks of our Astra), complex drivetrain, lack of space and high price (Rs.13.8 lakhs) struck the Forester off our list.

2. Chevy Optra
My Dad loved this car. The fully loaded version with leather, sunroof and all the other gizmos was within the budget. He really liked the jewel headlights and was in love with the rear seat. This seemed to be the car for him. However, I persuaded him not to make a rash decision and take a look at all the cars first. Whew! Sorry, but I just did not want the Optra. I never liked the flashy chrome bits and the rear end did not appeal at all. Not a car that would age gracefully, important when you plan on keeping it for 8 years. Also, after experiencing the Holden sourced Astra engine for so long, I was not a fan of Aus. engines.

3. Fiat Adventure
Yes, I know…this car is in a totally different price segment. But it was cheap, had good space, was tough and well… it was cheap! We went to Shamman and asked them if they had one we could test. They lazily told us that yes, they had one petrol engine Adventure parked out back in a lane. We can go take a look! O K! Nice service! The Fiat was just too far low on the pecking order interior wise, especially after being used to the Astra. Shamman told us that they would give us a good discount on this car, as it was an old stock one just lying there. I asked them what other colours they had. They told me to pick any colour and they will paint it for us! Bye bye Fiat!

4. Honda CRV
Very impressive I must say. Extremely spacious and comfortable, well made and had an automatic as standard (what my dad preferred). The only negative part about the CRV was its price, which at Rs.15.8 lakhs on road, was way out of our budget!

Other cars considered were used E220’s, Pajero’s and Prado’s. However the ones we saw were in too bad a state to seriously consider. Plus, as an only vehicle, those are just too large. No, the Corolla was never in the reckoning for us, don’t ask me why, both my dad and me just did not want nor like it!

The decision is made.
As we step out of Shamman, we head down the road to Autobahn, the Skoda dealers. Walk into the showroom to see a red Octavia gleaming there. I could tell my Dad was hooked. Sitting in the car, the quality of materials used was plain to see. The glaring disparity between the Fiat and the Skoda were made more apparent after having just driven the Adventure a few minutes earlier.

Although he never said it at the time, I knew from that moment which car we would be getting. Even though it was a bit out of our budget, we felt it was worth it in the long run. So, a week later, after bargaining with Autobahn and pitting them against Nummer Eins, the other Skoda dealer, we settled for a white Octavia 1.9 Tdi Ambiente, with the dealer throwing in the OE spoiler (Rs.12,000), OE front arm rest (Rs.11,000), seat covers, door sills, floor mats, tinted windows, polymer coating, wood trim for the center consol, a boot mat and a garage cover. Most importantly, they registered the car in Pune, saving us another Rs.40K.

The delivery was promised in 15 days, as they claimed white was not readily available. We had no problem with that, as we need the time to find a buyer for the Astra.

Now, once we put the downpayment, things went wrong. Delivery date was differed 3 times, without event the courtesy of a phone call to let us know. When they did call us to set the date, there was no car when we showed up! This happened twice. We were really pissed with the dealer. This is not the treatment you want when buying a new car. If we hadn’t managed to get a good deal with all the accessories thrown in, we would have cancelled our booking right there.

Anyways, the car eventually came, 15 days later than promised. It goes without saying; I don’t have fond memories of Autobahn!

The Look
What can I say…I’m a sucker for understated German/European designs. I love the way they look fresh for years. I love the lack of chrome. I love that they don’t have to force styling on you, ala Hyundai. 10 years from now, the Optra and Corolla will look distinctly old, while the Octavia will still look handsome.

Engine performance and Economy.
The first thing I really had to get used to was the engine. Being a petrol guy all his life, the low redline (4,800 rpm) really took some getting used to. You don’t drive a 1.9 Tdi like you would any Petrol engined car. Do that and you’re not doing justice to that soft turbo and amazing low end torque. 1,800 rpm onwards you get a nice rush of power accompanied by an addictive whistling of the turbo. Once you get used to the car, you don’t need a tacho. Simply listen to the pitch of the turbo change and you know what rpm you are at! Awesome!

It also sounds great for a diesel. Rev it up and its got an almost petrolish grunt to it. No kidding! Windows up, this car is as silent as ever. Keep the revs below 3,000 and you won’t think there’s an oil burner under the hood.

I know 90 Bhp is not much at all, but its all in the way the power is delivered. In the Octi, it is really perfect for the city and our crowded highways. You just put her in 5th and drive! Hell, who needs an auto box when you have an engine as flexible as this!

Now, the best part…fuel consumption! Hehehe…I love going to the pump once a month and filling up the 55l tank for Rs.1,450 or so. Then the on board computer (OBC) shows me 800 Km to go before the next fillup! My average FE so far has been 14kmpl. This is with 90% city driving with the AC on and 10% highway/expressway with AC and full load. Infact the OBC shows that at 145kmph constant throttle, I am getting an amazing 18-20 Kmpl. I really don’t know what else you can ask for from this engine.

Ride and Handling
For anyone who has not experienced the ride of an Octavia, please do! Seriously, it has a simply amazing ride quality. The surface could be potholed and broken or smooth; it’s all the same to the Octi. I have been in my friends Corolla, and then jumped in the Octi and it felt like I had just stepped off an electronic bull and am now travelling on a magic carpet. I never considered the Toyota before buying the Octi, but even if I did, that ride would have put me off. There is a difference between “stiff” and “harsh”, and the Toyota is the later.
I must mention here that I have 205/60/15 Goodyear Eagle F1 D2’s on my car and not some cushy high profile tyres.

High speed cornering does tend to make the car understeer quite noticeably, but lifting of the gas (or a touch of left foot braking) takes care of that. However, I still prefer the Astra for outright driving pleasure. Somehow, the diesel engine in this car makes me drive it like an old man!

read more about the Octi's highway manners Here (Skoda Octavia on the Expressway.)

Interiors.
Step inside and you are greeted by a typically German understated dash layout. Something you know will not age quickly, and still look and feel new years from now. *The front seats are nice, with all the adjustments you need including height and lumbar. The rears, well, we’ve all heard the stories about the lack of space, and I admit its not got the best back seat. However, its not as bad as you think either. All I can say on this is take whoever it is that is going to sit there most of the time and ask them to see it is ok. If they are not very tall, it will be fine.

Authorised Service Center
About 3,000 km into the running in, I noticed the reverse gear detent seemed to have become unaligned or something. It was getting increasingly hard to put into reverse. So, I set up an appointment with Autobahn’s Sewri ASC. They came and picked up the car. The next day they dropped it off, 1 hour late mind you! Problem solved under warranty.

I gave it for the first service at 5,800 km (limit was 7,500). The bill came to Rs.3,500 or so. I was really pleased with their service. You can read about it in detail here (1st service for the Octavia)

Problems and criticisms
The interiors are where I have some niggling things. Nothing serious, just something that crops up after having owned the car for some time now.

- The blower speed. It has 4 speeds, but I don’t think I’ve ever used the highest speed. Its just really noisy and the blast is too strong to use on 4. Even on the lowest speed, it gets a little too drafty. I would say that its lowest speed is equal to the 2nd speed on another make of car.

- The AC vents. Well, actually I mean the way the airflow is controlled. You see, in the Astra, as it is in most other cars, the flow is controlled independent of the direction of the draft. But on the Octi, to reduce the flow, you have to either point the vents downward or upwards till flow stops. There are times when you may want the draft on your face, but also control the flow and this mechanism makes doing this impossible.

- Cubby holes. Well, simply speaking, there are not enough of them! If we did not have the armrest with its bin inside, I would have run out of room to keep small things. The glovebox is decently sized, but gets filled with the huge manual, service book and my CD case. There is no place to keep lose change, something everyone needs IMO. So I keep the coins in the ashtray. Good thing I’m not a smoker. This is one area the Toyota excels in. There are loads of cubby holes in the Corolla, something for everything really!

- Front seat travel. While this is not something that affects me, my 6’2” friend discovered this problem. Sitting in the passenger seat, he could not shift the seat far back enough to be comfortable. Again, I say try it out properly before buying!

- Visibility. Yes, rear visibility is not the best in the world and it took me some time to get used to it and confidently park in tight spots. Now however I use the side mirrors for reversing and hardly ever look over my shoulder while parking. Just a matter of getting used to it.

Things I love! - The OBC (on board Computer). It’s just great to use and gives you a host of information. You can chose between the outside temperatures, avg. speed, avg. fuel consumption, trip time, trip distance (this is aside from the odo and trip meter), current fuel consumption and time.

- Lumbar support for the front seats! Feels great even after a 4-hour plus journey.

- Huge Boot that can take in anything you want.

- Classy way the interior light dims out after 30 secs or so. Also the way it comes on when remotely unlock the car.

- Arm rest that fall perfectly under your elbow. This makes driving in the city and highway even more relaxing


Conclusion.
Any regrets? That’s something I asked myself and I’m happy to say the answer is a big NO. I don’t think there is a better car out there that could fulfil all our requirements.

The Octavia truly an almost perfect mix of looks, efficiency, comfort, power and ride. Our only regret I guess was that the NEW Octavia was not launched in time for us to buy it!

Rt

Last edited by Rtech : 5th May 2005 at 12:00.
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Old 7th October 2004, 19:44   #2
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Hey.. nice review there Rtech! Octavia remains one of my all time favorite car in India.. love its looks, engine...mmm everything!!
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Old 7th October 2004, 20:14   #3
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hey there,

dude nicely done...with the review.
we also had test driven the skoda 1.9, but had to settle on the crdi due to budget constraints....otherwise it wud have been the skoda for us too....congrats on ur purchase.
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Old 7th October 2004, 21:54   #4
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Great review rtech! nicely put!
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Old 8th October 2004, 00:36   #5
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Hey....
Great review of a simply awesome car. The Octavia is one car that I would love to buy someday. That diesel is simply awesome. Thats why i always say that buying a VW petrol vehicle should be made a cirminal offence! Thats unless your buying the 1.8T!
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Old 8th October 2004, 09:43   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] (rtech @ Oct. 07 2004,18:08)]For anyone who has not experienced the ride of an Octavia, please do! Seriously, it has a simply amazing ride quality.

There is a difference between “stiff” and “harsh”, and the Toyota is the later. I must mention here that I have 205/60/15 Goodyear Eagle F1 D2’s on my car and not some cushy high profile tyres.
Yes, I did. It was simply great that night.
Fantastic cornering with 205/60/15 Goodyear Eagle F1 D2.

I'm completely sold....the tyres I'm talking about *

Great stuff rtech. Congrats.
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Old 8th October 2004, 12:09   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]3. Fiat Adventure
Yes, I know?this car is in a totally different price segment. But it was cheap, had good space, was tough and well? it was cheap! We went to Shamman and asked them if they had one we could test. They lazily told us that yes, they had one petrol engine Adventure parked out back in a lane. We can go take a look! O K! Nice service! The Fiat was just too far low on the pecking order interior wise, especially after being used to the Astra. Shamman told us that they would give us a good discount on this car, as it was an old stock one just lying there. I asked them what other colours they had. They told me to pick any colour and they will paint it for us! Bye bye Fiat!
Second time I heard this from you...but it still had me in splits.

Very comprehensive review. I remember seeing like 600+ kms on your tripmeter and asking you if its on one tank? One tank? It was only about a 1000 bucks worth of fuel. Your Octavia is incredibly refined. Even that bad patch on the highway where everyone was slowing down...you were actually gunning it and we didnt feel the bad roads at all.

Good reviews are certain to help many Team-BHPians in their purchase decisions.

GTO
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Old 8th October 2004, 17:16   #8
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Thats a great review. Long back decided that Octavia is a major contender for my next car.
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Old 11th October 2004, 23:30   #9
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Nice one Rtech
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Old 12th October 2004, 03:49   #10
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Absolutely wonderful review there Rtech.

The way you mention about the car, totally takes it to a different plane. Seriously, you've bought me over if you were the salesman. Lol.

Your observation on tall people holds true. It is quite difficult to have 6ft+ up ahead to drive the car. When fellow member Nitronix and myself went to sample the RS the other day, his height really did pose a problem. Infact i suggested that he'd drive with the moon-roof open. Reminds me of JC and how he couldn't fit into a GT40 and had to have a go in a GT43 just due to height constraints.

I am a sucker for on-board trip computers. The Octavia's with all its info that it provides is one to die for.

I can't help but proclaim your review as awesome once again. If I were Rashid Irani and this were an English movie, a 5 on 5 wouldn't do harm, would it.

Revv

P.S. Now where is my dad when i need to hanker him for a new car....
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Old 12th October 2004, 03:58   #11
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Hell, your FE calculations actually made me stay awake even at 2:00 am. Ok, this is gonna sound ridiculous, but my Matiz costs a hell lot more to run than your Octi. Since i don't get an average of more than 11-12kmpl in my Matiz, here's some math.

Total driving in a month:- 700 km
Cost of Fuel: 43.67 (Power, XtraPremium)
Average: Assume 11 kmpl
Total: Rs.2780

Your driving: Assuming 15kmpl with Diesel at Rs. 31.50(XtraMile et all) for similar driving range of 700 km. Rs. 1470.

Hell thats half of my calculations. Literally.

Dad wake up please. We need to have a father-son talk. Now

Revv
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Old 12th October 2004, 12:48   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]It is quite difficult to have 6ft+ up ahead to drive the car. When fellow member Nitronix and myself went to sample the RS the other day, his height really did pose a problem. Infact i suggested that he'd drive with the moon-roof open.
Hey revv, did he lower the seat completly? The headroom wasn't a problem, it was really the leg room that sucked.

Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]Hell, your FE calculations actually made me stay awake even at 2:00 am. Ok, this is gonna sound ridiculous, but my Matiz costs a hell lot more to run than your Octi. Since i don't get an average of more than 11-12kmpl in my Matiz,
Well, when we bough the car, the FE was not really at the top of ours minds as we don't put much mileage on our car in a year. But, after living with it, its just a great feeling not seeing the pump for a month, and when we do, it just empties us of about Rs.1,500.

This reminds me of GTO's post on FE. Well, after living with a guzzler like the Astra and then shifting to the miser like the Octavia, I have to say that the so called "feel good" factor is amazing!!

Rt
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Old 13th October 2004, 02:50   #13
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Great review man, i really want one of these TDi, but would have a hard time convincing him to part with the extra moolah. I have an idea. Rtech, i'll call for an Octavia test drive, and you could turn up instead with your car, and you'd do a better job of convincing my dad than any salesmen around. And if i do get one, you could convince him for those Goodyear Eagle F1s too. Oh damn i'm dreaming now. Time to head back to my drawing sheets.
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Old 13th October 2004, 04:05   #14
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Indeed a fantastic review Rtech
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Old 13th October 2004, 10:17   #15
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Just saw an ad for the new automatic version of the diesel - anyone going to check this out ?
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