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Old 3rd October 2013, 11:02   #1
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Default Skoda Octavia : Official Review

The Skoda Octavia has been launched in India at a price of between Rs. 13.95 - 19.45 lakhs (ex-Delhi).

What you'll like:

• Classic European styling & build. Premium quality inside out
• Wide engine range: Adequate 1.4L TSI, economical 2.0L diesel and explosive 1.8L TSI
• Smooth, high-tech DSG. Lightning quick upshifts
• Enhanced cabin room & spacious rear seat. Cavernous 590 liter boot as well
• Loaded with features (panoramic sunroof, electric seats with memory, bi-xenon lights etc.)
• Middle Ambition variant is well-equipped. Has a Diesel Automatic available too
• 5 star NCAP rating. Safety kit includes 6 airbags, ABS + EBD, ESP, EDL and more

What you won't:

• 2.0L diesel & 1.4L petrol get an inferior (torsion beam) rear suspension
• 1.4L TSI has prominent turbo lag at low rpms
• Some niceties missing (paddle shifters, smart keyless entry & go, alloy wheel spare)
• 1.8L TSI isn't offered with a manual transmission for the purists
• Unusually tall floor hump makes things uncomfortable for the 5th occupant
• Long term reliability concerns over the DSG automatic
• Skoda’s ill-famed after sales service & dealer network


Last edited by GTO : 3rd October 2013 at 13:07.
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Old 3rd October 2013, 11:02   #2
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The Octavia brand is back in India. This was the nameplate that Skoda ventured into the Indian market with in 2001, and the car that established the company here. The Octavia had the right ingredients for the Indian car buyer and enjoyed a near monopoly, with the lack of any real competitors in sight. It had solid German underpinnings, a VFM price tag and a turbocharged direct-injection diesel that offered the right combination of power & economy. In comparison, Opel sold the aging Astra, Mitsubishi’s Lancer diesel was a segment lower and the Elantra simply wasn't competent enough. Soon, the Skoda Octavia became a familiar sight on our roads, developing its own fan following. Then in 2004, Skoda introduced the Octavia vRS with a 1.8L turbo petrol and 150 horses under the hood. It had features that were unheard of in the segment, with shattering performance to match. Compared to the Lancer SFXi that was all show and no go, the Octavia vRS was show with a lot of go! Till this day, the Octavia vRS remains one of the best driver oriented cars sold in India.



In 2005, Skoda introduced the 2nd generation Octavia. Unfortunately, they decided to sell the old & new generations side by side, simply badging the latest model as the Laura. This didn't go down too well. In the million+ rupee segment, the informed Indian customer gives a cold shoulder to old products. While the Octavia slowly fizzled out of the market, the Laura did well for itself, despite the premium pricing. The Laura went through a facelift in the year 2009. However, its age vis a vis fresher competition was starting to show. For enthusiasts, the Laura vRS didn't create the same impression as the earlier Octavia vRS. That 1.8L TSI engine is a gem, but the softened new vRS didn't have the raw feeling of the Octavia.

Skoda launched the 3rd generation Octavia internationally in December 2012, and it was spotted testing in India around April 2013. The company decided to ride on the image the erstwhile Octavia carved out by bringing back the badge, and eventually doing away with the Laura nameplate.

This third gen Octavia is based on the new Volkswagen MQB (“Modularer Querbaukasten” in German) platform. Introduced in 2012, the MQB will be the platform that all future VW group cars with a transverse engine & front wheel drive layout are based on. Currently, the VW Golf (Mk.7), Audi A3, Seat Leon and Skoda Octavia use the MQB platform. The MQB aims at reducing manufacturing costs by using a modular architecture across several VW group cars. Engines, gearboxes, chassis components and other ancillaries can all be shared between different models & body styles. Bringing uniformity allows the cross sharing of parts to a much higher degree. For example, the MQB platform has uniform engine mounts, irrespective of the engine type (i.e. petrol or diesel). The uniformity obviously results in lower manufacturing costs, as well as savings in development and manufacturing time. An interesting discussion on the topic can be found here (Reuters : Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?).

Skoda Octavia : Official Review-skoda-octavia-specs-prices.png

The MQB platform places a lot of emphasis on weight reduction; the Octavia is actually lighter than the Laura by a full 70 kilos for the diesel DSG variant. That's a massive saving, especially when you consider that the Octavia has grown in size.

Standing next to the Laura, the Octavia seems like it is from a segment above. The car is 90 mm longer, 35 mm wider and has a 110 mm longer wheelbase (than the Laura). In fact, it’s length runs even more than the VW Jetta. Size wise, you could say that the Octavia slots in between the Jetta and Passat.

Jozef Kabaň, who designed the Bugatti Veyron, was in charge of the Octavia's looks. The understated styling is clean and elegant; there’s nothing offensive or over the top here. The design theme is all about straight lines with sharp chiseled cuts. I love the clean lines far more than the fluidic styling from Hyundai. The only complaint is the rear which looks too plain and wears a close resemblance to the cheaper Rapid. The front has a unique butterfly shaped grill, with the updated Skoda logo placed just above it. Talking about the logo, it’s a design which is a throwback to Skoda's earlier days. India first saw the simpler monochrome logo on the Rapid when it underwent a minor refresh earlier this year. The smoked headlights on the top-end Elegance variant look smashing with a bright LED DRL strip below. Viewed from the side, the increase in length and wheelbase are apparent. Compared to the Laura, the C-pillar has been pushed further back, liberating headroom for rear passengers. The car is still a notchback, although with the increased length, it looks more sedan-like now.

The sturdy build quality is typical of Skoda cars. There are no irregularities in the shut lines and everything feels well-built. The paint finish is also impeccable. The Indian Octavia gets the 'rough road underbody package' with multiple skid plates for protection against unmarked speed breakers & the like. Still, I would rate the 1st gen Octavia higher in terms of solidity.

Skoda Octavia : Official Review-octy_features.png

The list of features is comprehensive. The Octavia will be available in 3 trim levels: Active, Ambition and Elegance. Not all engine options are available across the 3 trims. The 1.4L TSI engine will be sold only in Active and Ambition variants (no top-end Elegance). On the other hand, if you want the 1.8L TSI petrol, you'll have to stretch for the Elegance trim. If you’re looking at the diesel mill with a manual gearbox, you get only Active and Ambition to choose from. Unlike the Jetta however, the diesel DSG is available in 2 trim levels, Ambition and Elegance. Having the AT on the middle variant is a smart move by Skoda as, in the D segment, the automatic + diesel combination is hot.

16” alloy wheels are standard on all trim levels as well as ABS, EBD and airbags. The lower Active variant doesn't have a lot of gizmos but externally, the only difference is its alloy wheel design. Good thing is, the Ambition is hardly a middle variant. It gets leather seats, dual zone climate control, Bolero audio with a 5.8” touchscreen display, bluetooth connectivity, steering mounted audio controls, auto headlights, rain sensing wipers, auto dimming inside / outside mirrors and more. The Elegance gets bells & whistles which easily surpass the Superb. Key features include electric seats with 3 memory presets, Bi-xenon lights with LED DRLs, panoramic sunroof and 6 airbags (Ambition gets only 2). The two features I did miss on the Elegance are smart keyless entry with push button start and a reversing camera. Even the recently launched Hyundai Grand i10 hatchback offers smart keyless entry!

The Elegance variant's panoramic sunroof has a few key differences vs the normal sunroofs seen on other cars. The sunroof's glass takes up nearly half the roof and as a result, opens up outside rather than going into the headlining. This arrangement ensures that it doesn't eat into available headroom, but the disadvantage is the (ugly) visible glass outside. It has a higher chance of breaking and over time, dirt accumulation may hamper operation too. Since it opens up outside, there is a large wind breaker that comes up to restrict wind noise and prevent air from entering the cabin. On the inside, you get only a sliding mesh shade (no solid cover). The glass is heavily tinted and heat insulated, blocking 92% heat and 90% light. You shouldn't have to worry during the summers. The sunroof is also linked to the rain sensing wipers and will automatically close when it starts to rain.

The Octavia's safety features deserve a separate paragraph. It scored 5 stars in the European NCAP tests. As mentioned, the Active and Ambition get 2 airbags whereas the Elegance gets 6 (2 front, 2 side and 2 curtain). Both Ambition and Elegance get EDL (Electronic Differential Lock) & ESC (Electronic Stability Control) with a new feature called Multi Collision Braking (MKB). MKB applies the brakes as soon as a collision is detected to avoid a further collision. Translated, if you end up in an accident and the impact causes the car to veer off toward another obstacle (like a tree or barrier), the brakes will apply automatically. MKB will not engage if the driver provides an input by pressing the brake on his own, or the accelerator as he might be trying to swerve away. Another safety feature is “Prefill” that starts to increase hydraulic pressure in the braking system if the driver suddenly takes his foot off the accelerator pedal. Since this sudden release of the a-pedal might be followed by slamming on the brakes, the system proactively prepares the braking system.

Sharp front styling with a chiseled cut on the lights looks classy:


Rear quarter view has the same sharp lines running from the front, as well as sharp creases on the boot:


Rear wears the prism cut styling elements, but is too similar to the Rapid and looks rather simple. Tail-pipes hidden from view:


My favourite view. Head on, the smoked square lights with the DRL strip look smashing:


Side view reveals the car's larger dimensions and increased wheelbase:


Bi-xenons with adaptive lighting on the Elegance are fabulous. Smoked, with a bright LED DRL strip below. Additionally, the Elegance variant is equipped with headlamp washers:


In comparison, the Ambition's halogen lamps in standard dual-barrel reflectors look boring:


Foglamps get cornering function (Elegance variant):


New monochrome Skoda logo:


Auto-folding ORVMs get integrated blinkers:


Ambition & Elegance variants get 10-spoke 16" alloys with 205/55 Goodyear tyres. Active variants get a different design:


Boot lip spoiler only on the 1.8L TSI Elegance:


C motif typical of all Skoda tail-lamps. The Octavia is back. No engine size badging anywhere:


Rear door has an interesting kink going upward into the glass. Door handles are now chunkier, and not slim like the Laura / Jetta:


Notchback results in the hatch opening a long way up. Be careful in low basement parking complexes:


Panoramic sunroof takes up more than half the roof. Looks sporty on a light coloured car:


Sunroof opens out and goes a long way back:


A look at the sunroof open all the way:


The deflector rises up when you open the sunroof to prevent wind from entering the cabin. Reduces wind noise too:


Two picturesque shots:



Last edited by GTO : 7th November 2013 at 10:31. Reason: Updating image
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Old 3rd October 2013, 11:03   #3
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Default Re: Skoda Octavia : Official Review

Interiors : Front



Step inside the Octavia and you immediately notice the increase in cabin space. Compared to the Laura, the Octavia cabin feels noticeably more spacious and airy, front and back.

As is the norm for a car from this segment, the Octavia gets soft touch plastics on the top of the dash, as well as the door pads. Most of the interior feels properly screwed together, but you do see some areas which could have been better. The glove box for example requires a firm push, else it remains half open from the extreme left side. Another example is the cover on the center console which doesn't slide open as smoothly as it should. The Octavia has better quality materials on the inside, yet it’s the Jetta that feels better screwed together. The glovebox and all 4 door pockets get soft felt lining (missing in the Jetta). The seats are a mix of pure leather (where the body is in contact) and leatherette on the side & back areas. The Jetta's seats only get imitation leather.

The dashboard design is contemporary yet simplistic, following a beige and black colour combination. Surprisingly, there’s no faux wood on the dash at all. The audio unit has a piano black finish, while the climate control buttons are surrounded by matte black plastic. Faux wood is only seen on the center console and strips on the 4 doors. Luckily, Skoda has switched to black carpets on all its cars from the earlier beige, ensuring you don’t need to detail the interiors every few months.

Ergonomics are spot on with a wide adjustment range for the seats & steering wheel. The Elegance gets a 12-way power adjustable driver's seat whereas the lower trims make do with a manually adjustable unit. Both have a very long travel range which extends so far back that, even for a 6 footer like me, reaching the pedals was difficult. The additional 4 way electric lumbar support for the driver (on the Elegance) ensures adequate back support. The seats offer good overall support, but they don’t hug you on the sides like those of the Jetta. The passenger seat gets height adjustment on the Elegance trim, albeit lumbar adjustment is missing. The Ambition gets neither height nor lumbar adjust for the passenger.

The new 4 spoke steering wheel is adjustable for reach & rake and is a pleasure to hold. It has a very classy piano black finish around the horn pad. The steering-mounted controls for audio, telephony and MID are convenient to use. The jog dial for volume and menu navigation is particularly classy...typical Skoda fare. It’s unfortunate that the Jetta doesn't offer this dial and makes do with buttons for scrolling. The indicator and wiper stalks are also praiseworthy. They look and feel top class, thanks to a similar piano black finish around them. Unlike the Laura and Jetta, the Octavia goes back to the regular 'hanging' accelerator pedal, ditching the floor mounted design. I prefer this arrangement, especially in the manual as it frees up room for larger feet. In the Laura and Jetta, I was always hitting one foot against the other and wasn't happy with the available space to move my feet around. No such problems in the Octavia.

The Octavia scores well on practicality. There are numerous storage spots in here. All 4 doors get bottle holders (front 1 liter, rear 500 ml) and pockets. The central console has a small sliding drawer to stow your wallet away and behind the gear lever you get 3 cup holders. The front armrest houses a storage cubicle inside. Then, there is a small drawer to the right of the steering for the driver to keep loose change. The cooled glovebox is average sized, with the CD player taking up some room at the top. At the back, apart from the door pockets, you get a center armrest with 2 cup holders that can be adjusted to hold cups of any size. Both front seats get seatback pockets. The Octavia has a huge 2 piece rear parcel shelf, thanks to its notchback design. One half goes up along with the boot, whereas the other is fixed.

The air-conditioning on most Skodas & VWs is known to be average at best. I noticed an improvement with the Octavia, although it's nowhere close to Japanese cars. The dual-zone climate control works well, even if it has a mind of its own. On our way up to Simla, I had set the climate control to 17c; it wasn't blowing any cold air as the outside ambient temperature was around the same. Things got stuffy inside until I set it to manual mode. At the rear, it was just about comfortable with the rear A/C vents providing much needed cooling. Strangely, the 'recirculation mode' light goes off when you set the climate control to Auto. Skoda says that, in Auto mode, the recirculation is completely monitored by the climate control (hence the light turns off). The system will change to recirculation mode, depending on the air quality and humidity levels. I also found it weird how the auto mode gets disabled when you turn the temperature dial a notch below 16c. The display reads 'LO' and auto mode becomes inactive. There’s an interesting option to set up the climate control in one of 3 profiles: Light, medium and strong. I assume this setting defines how aggressive the air-con fan speed is. On the MID, you can view the (fuel) liters/hour consumed by the air-con system.

Visibility is par for the course. The A-pillars don't obstruct your vision too much and the large windows provide a generous glass area on the sides. The problem is only at the rear due to the high boot lid & steeply raked rear windshield. Luckily, the parktronic system is very accurate. When parking, remember to account for the long bonnet and front bumper chin, else you may end up scraping the kerb. The ORVMs offer decent visibility, but they get narrower towards the bottom. Yes, they do tilt downwards when you engage reverse gear. The IRVM and ORVMs also dim automatically to reduce glare from the vehicle behind.

Steering wheel feels great to hold. Audio controls are sunk in to avoid accidental pressing. Piano black surround gives it a premium touch:


Dials are easy to read with a comprehensive MID in the center. Thankfully, there's a good ol' temperature gauge:


Indicator stalks are top class and wear piano-black surrounds:



Auto headlamps available on Ambition and Elegance variants. The blank space to the left is for the manual headlight level adjustment of lower trims. The Elegance gets an adaptive light system with auto leveling. Switch is of good quality, again with piano black finish:


Dual-zone climate control works well and sufficiently cools the cabin (although not as effective as in the Japanese cars). Notice the setup button that allows you to select one of three A/C profiles (light, medium, strong) from the touchscreen display:


A/C vents reek of sheer quality. Rubberized dial blocks air completely when shut:


Front seats are comfortable, although the lateral bolstering could have been better. Elegance trim gets height adjustment for the passenger too:


Elegance gets 12 way power adjustable driver's seat with 3 memory presets (for the seat and ORVMs):


Ambition makes do with manual seat adjustment. No lumbar support:


The front doorpad with a 1 liter bottle holder. Door pockets are felt-lined! Notice faux wood strip at the top:


All windows have auto up / down functionality. Buttons are illuminated. Typical VW mirror adjustment knob with an auto-fold feature:


Chrome door latch feels top class:


Front seat-belts are adjustable for height:


Automatic and manual transmissions have similar gear knobs, save for the DSG label. Push the gear lever towards the left for Tiptronic mode:


The 6 speed manual :


Pedals are well spaced out. No longer an organ-type (floor mounted) accelerator. Dead pedal is too narrow for those with large shoe sizes:


The Automatic's footwell:


Front armrest has reasonable storage space:


Illuminated glove box isn't very deep. It is felt lined and has a pen + card holder. Notice the round knob for cooling that can of Red Bull:


Front armrest slides forward and is also adjustable for height:


3 cup-holders on the center console, along with a 12V charging port:


Sliding the chrome strip reveals a small compartment to store your wallet or phone. 'Media IN' plug on the right can connect to a USB drive or iPod via a proprietary cable. Central door lock button is located here:


Sunroof only has a mesh shade and doesn't block out sunlight completely. However, the glass is tinted with 92% heat rejection and blocks 90% of the light from coming in:


The Sunroof controls:


Both sun visors get mirrors. Shockingly, no vanity light:


Auto dimming ORVMs have a defogger too. Visibility is good, but they get narrower at the bottom:


High deck lid and steeply raked windshield result in limited rearward visibility:

Last edited by GTO : 7th November 2013 at 10:37. Reason: Updating image
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Old 3rd October 2013, 11:03   #4
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Interiors : Rear

A major disadvantage of the Laura is actually one of the Octavia’s strengths now.

Thanks to the longer wheelbase, the rear seats no longer feel cramped. Skoda claims that rear legroom is up from 47 mm (in the Laura) to 73 mm (in the Octavia), resulting in ample space even for a 6 footer like me. I could set the driver's seat up for myself and then jump right behind it without a problem. The rear seat's recline angle could have been better though, as it's quite upright. Underthigh support is average since the seats are on the lower side and the base is a tad short. Rear passengers get their own A/C vents and manually-operated sun blind for the rear windshield. As the Octavia's sunroof opens outward, it doesn't eat into rear headroom like in some other cars. Due to the high central tunnel, the back seat is comfortable for 2 people at best. The third passenger will find it uncomfortable. The big floor hump is strange because the MQB platform has been designed for transverse mounted FWD configurations.

Just like the old Octavia and Laura, the notchback design results in a massive boot. You get a whopping 590 liter boot (30 liters more than the Laura) with the seats up. With the seats folded down, this increases by almost a thousand liters to 1580! The enormous boot has practical hooks for your bags, a storage net and 60:40 splitting rear seats. The Octavia has a nifty feature you can use when the parcel shelf gets in the way of that last bag of extra luggage fitting in. Simply snap the shelf off and slide it behind the rear seats. There is a channel which the parcel shelf fits into, and it hardly takes up any space. Neat.

Rear seats offer good comfort, but underthigh support is average. Backrest angle is too upright. Look closely and you'll see that the middle passenger gets a proper 3-point seat belt :


Ample legroom as seen in the pic below, even after setting the front seat up for myself:


Rear air-conditioner is required to keep the large cabin cool. Independent blower control missed:


Manual sun-blind for the rear windshield (none for the side windows):


3rd passenger won't feel welcome due to the unusually tall floor hump:


Rear armrest gets 2 cup-holders that can be adjusted for size:


Simply pop out the plastic piece and click it back into any of the slots that fit the cup size:


You can also conveniently access the boot from here (after folding down the armrest):


Rear door pads can take a 500 ml bottle. Notice the felt lining, even at the back:


Rear seats get top and bottom tethers for a child seat:


Huge parcel shelf can hold a lot of stuff:


60:40 splitting rear seat for added flexibility:


Boot space is cavernous @ 590 liters. Useful small white clip (under the parcel tray) to hold bags:


With the seats folded down, there's a staggering 1580 liters of cargo room:


If the parcel shelf gets in the way of fitting some bags in, just snap it off and slide it into the dedicated channel:


Close up of the channel into which the shelf fits. It hardly eats into the boot space. Elegance trim gets a net below the shelf:


Spare isn't an alloy wheel. Tools are neatly strapped in:

Last edited by GTO : 7th November 2013 at 11:00. Reason: Adding boot access picture
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Audio System & Multi-Information Display

The Bolero audio system is similar to that found in other Skodas, with a few extra features thrown in. At 5.8”, the screen is surprisingly smaller than the 6.5” unit of the Jetta & Laura. You can control nearly all of the Octavia's features using the system. Even the ESP & rain-sensing wiper settings are accessible only by navigating through the MID or the head unit. No, there are no dedicated buttons for these functions. For a car as loaded as the Octavia, satellite navigation would have been nice to have, isn't it?

Audio quality from the 8 speakers is good, with deep bass & nice vocals. I'd give the sound an 8/10 rating. You can hook up your iPod or USB drive via the Media-in connector (below the head unit). Personally, I prefer a glovebox placement for USB connectors as it keeps the dash free of cables. Inside the glovebox is the CD player and SD card slot.

The head unit has one amazing party trick. Just like cell phones, the screen has a proximity sensor. When you move your finger towards the screen, the touch buttons (of the screen) get highlighted and are easier to spot. Move your hand away and the touch buttons dim out.

The 5.8" screen is easy to read, though I wish it was larger. Seen here is the automatic rain sensing wiper feature that can be enabled / disabled:


Screen shows full vehicle status...from fuel details to all warnings:


Elegance variant gets a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS):


Memory seats can be linked to individual keys too! Nifty:


Comprehensive trip computer displays the distance covered, average speed, time traveled, fuel consumption, distance to empty & service interval:


Interesting data on the liters / hour consumed by the air-conditioner:


Low fuel warning:


Intelligent Park Distance Assistant (on the Elegance) has parking sensors at the front & rear. It displays information only in the direction that the car is moving. This screen was seen while I was reversing. Although there are no sensors on the side, the system displays the projected path based on steering input:


Ambition variant gets only rear parking sensors:


Most of the information on the head unit can be viewed on the instrument console display. You can navigate through menus using the jog dials:


Automatic shows gear & mode (D, S or M). On the manual transmission variant, the MID suggests gear changes (upshifts and downshifts, both):


Apart from pointing out which door is open, it also warns you if the bonnet is unsecured. I haven't seen this in too many cars:


Oil temperature data:


Welcome screen on start-up:


CD player and SD card slot are neatly placed in the glovebox:

Last edited by Rehaan : 7th October 2013 at 01:21.
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Default Re: Skoda Octavia : Official Review

Skoda is leaving no stone unturned, thus you get 3 engine options to choose from; 2 petrol (1.4L, 1.8L) and 1 diesel (2.0L). On paper, the displacement looks similar to the Jetta & Laura’s motors, but make no mistake, these are all new powerplants. They are designed for use on the MQB platform and cannot be retrofitted on the older PQ35 platform. TSI stands for Turbocharged Stratified Injection. This is VW speak for direct-injection turbocharged technology that brings higher levels of performance to small displacement petrols. The only other manufacturer to offer this tech to the mass market is Ford (related link (Ford EcoSport : Official Review)).

The 1.4L TSI Petrol (6-Speed Manual)

The 1395 cc turbo-charged motor is from a new EA211 family of VW petrols. This engine has been developed for the MQB platform and has seen quite a lot of changes. For one, the engine is rotated by 180 degrees in the engine bay, with the exhaust side now facing the firewall. This positioning is standard for all petrol/diesel engines designed for the MQB chassis. The exhaust manifold is integrated onto the block to bring the engine up to operating temperature quicker. On the intake side, the intercooler is integrated with the manifold. The crankcase uses diecast aluminium (vs cast iron) for weight saving purposes. There is a healthy bump up in power compared to the older EA111 1.4L engine of the Jetta. 138 BHP (4,500 - 6,000 rpm) and 250 Nm torque (1,500 - 3,500 rpm) from a 1.4L engine are impressive numbers. The 250 Nm of torque particularly stands out as it is the same as the larger 1.8L TSI.

Fire up the engine and it settles into a very refined idle. The clutch isn't the lightest, but it’s precise unlike the Laura 1.8 TSI which was easy to stall. That said, you need to get the revs up to get going. Low end torque is mediocre till ~2,000 rpm. While driveability isn't as bad as the Civic, it's no Altis either. Turbo-lag is noticeable and you'll need to downshift frequently in the city. If you have a sedate driving style, driving around town won't pose a problem as long as you are patient. Just don’t expect to pull off a quick overtaking manoeuvre or quickly close a traffic gap without dropping a gear (or two). Past 2,500 rpm, there is a nice push and the Octavia 1.4L moves smartly. Mid-range performance is the engine’s forte. Progress is brisk and the 1.4L likes to be revved. If you can keep the engine in the power band, you will be rewarded with sprightly performance. It is decidedly superior to the Jetta 1.4 TSI & outright pep more than meets the need for most buyers, including those who frequent the highway. Driving through the hills though reveals a weakness typical of turbocharged petrols. The only usable gears are second & third, as you need to keep the turbo on boost to be able to climb up. The 6-speed manual transmission is slick. I didn't miss a single shift and got used to the gearbox within minutes of driving. The throws are on the longer side, but the gates are precise. Thanks to the 6th gear, expect this engine to be a good long distance cruiser.

A well priced Ambition 1.4L TSI with adequate performance & efficiency may just click with price-sensitive customers who have low running and don’t see the need for a diesel.

1.4L block in the large engine bay looks rather small, leaving some pockets of empty space:


The Petrol doesn't need any sound damping under the hood. Lack of gas struts is surprising as the bonnet is heavy!


Interestingly, the air intake has tubes of varying length. My guess is, these are tuned for different frequencies to reduce the intake sound:


Smaller battery of the 1.4 leaves an empty void at the front:


The 1.8L TSI Petrol (7-Speed DSG)

The flagship engine for the Octavia is undoubtedly the 1.8L TSI petrol. As I mentioned earlier, all engines are brand new. This EA888 motor shares the same model number as the earlier 1.8 TSI, but is now in its 3rd generation. It too has the exhaust manifold integrated onto the engine block itself. For improved NVH levels, this motor uses balancer shafts with low friction bearings.

The 1.8 TSI sees a power increase of almost 20 horses to 178 BHP (5,100 - 6,200 rpm). Torque remains the same at 250 Nm (1,250 - 5,000 rpm). The torque has probably been restricted, as the Octavia 1.8L TSI is only available with the 7 speed dry clutch DSG gearbox (DQ200). This gearbox can handle a maximum torque rating of 250 Nm.

The Octavia 1.8 isn't the quietest when fired up, with a faint whine heard on the inside. You really have to pay attention to notice it though. Slot the gear lever into D and a slight dab on the accelerator is enough for you to realise there is something special under the hood. Engine response to your right foot is instantaneous. It’s easy to be in "D" mode and not realise the speeds you’re doing. Acceleration is brutal from a standstill, and the motor revs up to its 6,500 rpm redline effortlessly. The engine note is so addictive that you can’t help but floor the accelerator whenever you see an empty stretch, ending up with a huge grin plastered across your face . Adding to the fun is the high pitched turbo whoosh at high revs. Performance is easily the best in class, and beats all cars from a segment up too.

Unlike the smaller 1.4L, the Octavia 1.8 is a breeze to drive in the city. Torque delivery is strong and the car pulls well in higher gears too. With the lighter steering & automatic gearbox, the 1.8 TSI is an effortless urban commuter. The gearbox is quick to upshift and will engage 6th gear even at speeds as slow as 60 kph. While this is good for mileage, it can get irritating in traffic, because the box then has to downshift 2 (sometimes 3) gears when quick acceleration is required. 1st gear in the DSG appears to be extremely short, whereas 2nd seems taller. The DSG is reluctant to shift into 1st and prefers to slip the clutch in 2nd many times. I tried using D mode in the hills and realised that the engine can get bogged down in 2nd gear at low speeds. The DSG refuses to downshift to first, so you just have to wait for the turbo to kick in. Once it does, there's ample power on tap.

While "D" mode is good for the city, Sports mode is where all the fun is. In Sports mode, the gearbox holds onto lower ratios longer and will not upshift easily. Depending on how heavy you are with the right foot, you can hold the gear till the redline (after which it automatically upshifts). Sports mode is also very eager to kick-down and will drop a few gears at the slightest tickle of the accelerator. There’s much more engine braking on tap in Sports mode, with the ECU even blipping the throttle nicely when downshifting. The only fly in the ointment is again, the reluctance to drop down to 1st gear, unless you floor the pedal.

Unfortunately, the Octavia 1.8L isn't equipped with paddle shifts. Majority of the time, I was using Tiptronic mode as, up the ghats, you only need 2 gears (2nd and 3rd). Going downhill, manually changing gears in Tiptronic mode provides the best engine braking. Each time you tap the gear lever to downshift, the ECU will blip the throttle to rev match before dropping a gear.

I know many purists think the fun-to-drive factor has been diluted by the DSG, but I’m a sucker for quick shifting automatics. Give me the DSG over a manual any day. I just hope that the gremlins of the DQ200 have been sorted. Skoda says that the software has been modified to fix the earlier issues. Nevertheless, DSG reliability problems remain fresh in our heads (related thread (Skoda Superb DSG 7 Speed DQ200 failures- China gets official reaction, why not India?)).

New 1.8L EA888 Gen 3 motor is a tight fit in the engine bay:


No damping for the 1.8L means you can hear it sing:


Massive Airbox. Notice that the intake is at the front, and the exhaust side at the back, for the MQB platform:


You can barely see the turbo down there. Space is truly at a premium:


MQB has universal engine mounts for both, petrol and diesel engines:


Imported Varta battery in a felt cover:


The 2.0L TDI Diesel (6-Speed DSG)

The engine that will constitute a majority of sales will naturally be the 2.0 TDI diesel. The new EA288 family of diesels is specific to the MQB platform, but goes a step further in modular architecture. VW calls this the MDB or Modular Diesel Engine System. VW has 2 engines with this architecture, a 1.6L and this 2.0L. Both can be customized by bolting on components, depending on the target market’s emission requirements (i.e. EU4, EU5 or EU6). EU4 markets get a catalytic converter that is placed closer to the exhaust manifold. The EU5 version gets a DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) while the EU6 engine gets a NOx storage catalytic converter / SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) system. Apart from the exhaust treatment, the intercooler has been integrated with the intake manifold as a single module. Where the petrol engines had to be rotated by 180 degrees, the diesel remains the same as the intake was already facing the front in earlier applications. For improved NVH levels, this motor uses balancer shafts with low friction bearings.

All of this translates to 141 BHP @ 4,000 rpm and a hefty 320 Nm torque from 1,750 - 3,000 rpm. The 3 BHP increase over the Jetta & Laura isn't too much. Internationally, this engine has an output of 148 BHP; it appears that the Euro 4 variant is slightly down on horsepower.

Diesel clatter is well-controlled on the inside, and refinement levels have improved, yet you’re always aware that there is an oil-burner under the hood. Rev hard above 3,000 rpm and you can hear the diesel thrum inside the cabin. However, at cruising speeds, refinement is top class. In “D” mode, I found the diesel better off the blocks than the petrol. The diesel is immensely practical for urban commuting, with ample torque available at low rpms. To maximise fuel efficiency, the DSG shifts up quickly and reaches top gear at speeds as low as 60 kph. Shift quality is smooth & seamless. Plus, due to the additional torque, downshifts aren't as frequent as in the 1.8L petrol. This 2.0L is a known workhorse and delivers respectable fuel-economy under most driving conditions. The all-rounded nature makes it one of the most popular motors in the VAG group.

The diesel is free revving and will easily hit its redline of 5,000 rpm. The torque available gives you a proper kick and you’re pushed back into the seat. On the highway, the engine + gearbox combination shines. You simply don’t realise the speeds you’re doing! Expressway performance & cruising ability are of a very tall order.

“D” mode offers no engine braking, with the box shifting to the highest gear the minute your foot comes off the accelerator. “S” mode is the best if you're in the mood to play. The DSG holds onto gears longer and will downshift to rev match as soon as the speed reduces...even if you’re not pressing the accelerator pedal. I didn’t use Tiptronic mode a lot in the diesel, as it wasn't as much fun as in the petrol. You can’t help but compare the 2.0L DSG diesel with the 1.8L DSG petrol. The 6 speed wet clutch DSG is effortless, yet not as quick to shift as the petrol's 7 speed box. Downshifts from high speed (for a quick overtaking move) are especially delayed. The DSG is no doubt superior to any of the other auto boxes out there. However, downshift response time in some situations remains its Achilles' heel.

New EA288 series diesel engine fits snugly inside the engine bay:


Diesel gets sound damping under the hood:


Notice the engine mount on the left. Identical to that of the petrols:


A view of the tight packaging:


The 2.0L TDI Diesel (6-Speed Manual)

Good news for manual transmission addicts. Where the Laura 5-speed MT was only available with the 108 BHP / 250 Nm lower spec diesel, the Octavia 6-speed MT gets the full 141 BHP / 320 Nm treatment. The gearbox ratios are perfectly matched to the engine and offer an ideal balance of driveability, performance and fuel-economy.

The first time that you drive the Octavia MT, you will stall the car. I'm willing to bet on it. In fact, you'll go on to stall the engine a couple of times, before getting a hang of its behaviour. Unlike the Yeti that used to stall only when moving from a standstill, the Octavia stalls (completely without warning) even if you drop the revvs too low on the move....say, while crawling over a rumble strip in 2nd gear. It should take a while to get used to. We found ourselves stalling the Octavia MT after 500 kms with the car! Remember to give it extra revvs when starting from 0 kph, and don't let the rpm needle fall too low when driving.

In-city driveability is excellent. The absence of lag means the Octavia makes light work of city traffic. The 2.0 diesel has sufficient grunt at lower revvs, meaning you don't need to downshift too often. What also helps is the responsive nature of the engine and how quickly its revvs climb up. On your daily drive through rush hour crowds, you'll only need to give the engine light accelerator inputs. While the Octavia is impressive within the city, it really comes into its own on the highway. The engine is incredibly free revving and will cross 5,000 rpm in the lower gears almost like a fast petrol (though you shouldn’t upshift anywhere over 4,500 rpm). The mid-range packs a solid punch; drive with a heavy right foot and you'll frequently be pushed back into the seat. Overtaking fast traffic is quick and easy. Most times, you don't even need to downshift. When you do drop a gear, the car simply leaps past the vehicle ahead. The revv-happy engine and manual transmission make for an enjoyable combination on your favourite driving road, torsion beam rear suspension notwithstanding. The Octavia is an outstanding long distance tourer. That 6th gear ratio (missing in the Laura MT) results in relaxed cruising ability. At 100 kph, the motor is spinning over at a lazy 1,600 odd rpm, thereby maximising fuel economy and reducing engine noise to the bare minimum. At 120 kph, it's still under 2,000 rpm! We had a fairly quick 200 km highway drive which saw an average of 18 kpl, thanks to generous usage of the 6th gear.

The 6-speed manual transmission is a straight lift from the Jetta. It's a tight short-throw gearbox that's a pleasure to use, complimenting the engine nicely. Too bad we can't say the same about the clutch pedal. It has a fairly long travel range and does require medium-level effort to operate. Not something you'll look forward to in bumper-to-bumper traffic for sure. Also, as is the case with several VW group cars, there is a certain amount of drivetrain movement felt on the clutch pedal. This vibration is directly proportionate to engine rpm and feels crude in an otherwise refined automobile.

Ride and Handling

With the MQB platform, Skoda has taken a different approach to the suspension setups. The 1.4 TSI and 2.0 TDI get a torsion beam at the rear, whereas the 1.8 TSI has a superior multi-link suspension (similar to the Laura and Jetta). I can only attribute this decision to cost cutting, as there is no other reason to have 2 different setups on the same car. Considering that the Octavia is a premium product, it is plain ridiculous.

Ride quality of the diesel and 1.4L petrol is compliant and the suspension will soak up most bumps with ease. At expressway speeds, the cars feels solid and tight, as is typical of the Europeans. Straight line stability is excellent. You never realise the speeds you’re doing until you look down at the speedometer. The ride is flat and the Octavia doesn’t bounce around over undulations like some Japanese & Korean cars. However, the torsion beam setup feels stiffer, and sharp edges do filter through. It isn't the quietest when doing its work either. You can hear the suspension movement over bad roads, with a slight drumming sound (from the back) over uneven patches.

Both suspension systems will do the job just fine and the regular buyer won’t realise what he’s missing out on. That said, when an enthusiast drives both configurations back to back, the difference is clearly felt, especially when pushing the car on imperfect roads. Drive the Octavia through fast corners and you realise which suspension works better. The torsion beam Octavias feel nervous & skittish at the rear on uneven tarmac. A mid-corner bump unsettles the rear, and it might step out when driven too hard. Sometimes, you get the feeling that the rear isn't tightly connected to the front. To us enthusiasts, this could be the deciding factor when cross-shopping between the Octavia and Jetta diesels.

No such problems with the 1.8L TSI. The multi-link displays its superiority not only in handling, but also in ride quality. The Octavia 1.8 takes the worst of roads in its stride and never feels unsettled. The suspension is also far more silent. You feel confident going into a corner at high speeds, due to its surefooted and predictable nature. Because the multi-link feels softer, there is marginal body roll on the limit. Sitting on the rear seat, I was impressed with how absorbent the multi-link suspension is over bad roads. It soaks up all rough sections without any complaint.

The multi-link actually exposes one of the chinks in the Octavia’s armour - the Goodyear tyres. With the performance on tap & superior handling, you hear a lot more tyre squeal in the 1.8 TSI (than in the 1.4 TSI or 2.0 TDI). Petrolheads should upgrade to better quality rubber on the 1.8 TSI straight from the showroom.

The steering is an electric unit which Skoda terms as Electro-mechanical. It’s light at slow speeds and weighs up nicely as the speedometer needle climbs. No, the EPS isn't as heavy as hydraulic steerings on the highway, but it is better than most EPS units out there. Unfortunately, there isn't much feedback on offer. While the steering is direct, it's not the communicative type that enthusiasts crave for. All-round disc brakes mean the stopping capability is strong. Even with the 178 BHP petrol, braking performance is confidence inspiring. The brakes are sharp and predictable.

The 155 mm of ground clearance means the Octavia is down by 9 mm when compared to the Laura! Still, the stiff suspension and superb underbody protection ensured we didn’t beach the car on the horrible roads from Chandigarh to Simla (via Chail). Some stretches had nonexistent roads, with sharp stones and deep ruts waiting for us. The one part a fellow reviewer did scrape was the bottom of the bumper chin against a pile of rocks. Upon inspection, there was no damage whatsoever. Just some bruises on the plate below.

The 1.8 TSI's superior multi-link suspension at the rear:


Simpler & cheaper torsion beam setup of the 2.0 Diesel & 1.4 Petrol. Empty space due to lesser moving parts:


The underbody protection:



Last edited by GTO : 7th November 2013 at 11:03. Reason: Adding 2.0L Diesel MT Review
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Old 3rd October 2013, 11:04   #7
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Default Re: Skoda Octavia : Official Review

Other Points:

• The Octavia will be offered with a 2 year unlimited kms warranty. No optional extended warranty yet. Not the most confidence inspiring strategy. On the positive side, Skoda is offering a 5 year maintenance pack (website link).

• Thanks to Gannu_1 for sharing the owner's manual download link. Immensely helpful to existing & future Octavia owners.

• Only 4 colours available at launch. Brilliant Silver, Candy White, Cappuccino Beige and Magic Black. 3 additional shades - Rio Red, Metal Grey and Race Blue (same as the Audi RS5) - will be available in a few months.

• ARAI certified fuel consumption is 16.8 kpl (1.4 TSI), 14.7 kpl (1.8 TSI AT), 20.6 kpl (2.0 TDI MT) and 19.3 kpl (2.0 TDI AT).

• Skoda's marketing campaign rides on the success of the earlier Octavia with a clever slogan: The Legend is Back.

• Even though VW projects itself as the premium brand, its Skoda whose cars are superior in every segment. The Superb trumps the Passat, the Octavia is now a generation ahead and clearly a superior product to the Jetta and the Rapid is identical + cheaper to the Vento.

Observation added on 6th November 2013: Some Octavia owners have already started complaining of rattles. Well, our diesel MT test car (5,000 kms on the odometer) had its fair share of unwanted noises. In particular, there was noticeable rattling from the front left of the cabin.

• Unlike the Octavia, the Jetta doesn't skimp out on safety features on any of the trim lines. Even the base Trendline Jetta gets 6 airbags and ESP (with ASR & EDL).

• When you turn the key to start the engine, there's a 1/2 second delay before the starter motor cranks.

• Pulling the door handle from the inside opens the doors at any time, even if they are locked. All European cars seem to have this trait.

• The remote control allows you to open / close all windows, fold the ORVMS and close the sunroof too!

• Skoda hinted there might be a 1.6L (103 BHP) Diesel in the future.

• Turning Radius = 5.2 meters.

• Surprisingly, a 12v power socket for rear passengers is missing.

• Fuel tank capacity is down to 50 liters from the Laura's 55. In the interest of safety, fuel supply is automatically cut off in a crash.

• The Octavia's horn is the "peep peep" type, and not the typical Skoda low frequency horn. The sound was made so popular that the horn was known as the "Skoda-type" at local accessory shops.

• Mud flaps are standard at the rear, but not at the front.

• Big shoutout to Stratos for post-processing the pictures. Thank you!

Disclaimer : Skoda invited Team-BHP for the Octavia test-drive. They covered all the expenses for this driving event.

Last edited by GTO : 22nd March 2014 at 12:57. Reason: Adding download link to owner's manual
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Old 3rd October 2013, 11:05   #8
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Default Re: Skoda Octavia : Official Review

The Smaller yet Significant Things:

Elegance gets side airbags on the seats:


Cruise control of the Elegance trim:


A small cubby hole to keep loose change, on the right of the steering wheel:


Nifty ticket holder / clip on the windshield:


A small slot below the driver's seat to store a high visibility reflective jacket. Moderator Ajmat says this is compulsory in some European countries:


Dedicated points to attach a roof rack or cycle stand. No drilling required:


New flippy key. Notice the key blade is now turned vs the older VAG cars:


Easiest hood release latch ever! No more searching for that small lever:


Petrol needs 91 RON minimum:


Puddle lamps under the ORVMs (Ambition and Elegance variants):


Dummy speaker cover on the dashboard. The international Octavia has a subwoofer here:


Neat leather piece to cover up the area behind the steering wheel, when it is set to a lower position:


A/C vents below the front seat, for the rear passenger's feet:


Always a good thing. Rear window rolls all the way down. Windows have a bounce-back system to prevent injury when being wound up:


Power windows use redesigned push-type buttons (Laura has push/pull type) for all doors, except the driver's. Auto up/down on all windows:


Bottom tether for ISOFIX child seats :


Rain sensors located on the front windshield:


Small cubby hole (in front of the gear lever) has a thoughtful LED inside:


Rubber handle to pull the hatch down doesn't feel durable enough:


Glovebox needs a firm push, else it stays loose from the left:


Door-open warning lamps only on the front doors:

Last edited by Rehaan : 7th October 2013 at 19:25.
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Old 3rd October 2013, 12:57   #9
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Default Re: Skoda Octavia : Official Review

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Official Reviews!

Thanks for sharing, Vid! Rates review a fully deserved 5 stars.
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Old 3rd October 2013, 13:12   #10
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Default Re: Skoda Octavia : Official Review

The much awaited review is finally here. Now that the price has been announced i would like to know what you feel about the value proposition since you have driven the car extensively. Does it have what to be a success since there is no talk about a service package or even longer standard warranty
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Old 3rd October 2013, 13:17   #11
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Default Re: Skoda Octavia : Official Review

Looks brilliant in black. Skoda is the new "Old Audi" when it comes to styling.

Newer Audis have lost their "timeless understated look" thanks to the plus sized radiator grille, sharp curvy headlamps & LEDs.

Skoda, with the new design language, has taken up the mantle.
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Old 3rd October 2013, 13:21   #12
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Default Re: Skoda Octavia : Official Review

Fantastic and Detailed review Viddy

Quite a few disappointments that I note from this new brand and model launch :-

1. Price, Price, Price

2. The difference in suspension across the variant Torsion Beam Vs. Multi-Link. I feel they should have offered the Multi Link across the variant to woo more buyers with this important selling point.

3. 1.8TSI is the engine I was waiting with bated breath. This is the same one offered in the Superb and again mated with similar 7-speed DSG. However, I am sorely disappointed its offered only in highest trim taking the price to abnormal levels. Will there be buyers for this variant? Maybe a few handful as OTR price will be nearly 20 Lakhs

4. They should have offered an industry first feature in this relaunched brand to induce interest for the discerning customer. None of the features are new or atleast are loaded fully irrespective of the variant considering the higher side pricing. They should have offered Paddle Shifters atleast for the 1.8 TSI, like VW did for 1.2 GT TSI which is a hit even though selling in low numbers.

Overall, like any Skoda the car looks solid inside and outside and would be a lovely car to own and drive.
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Old 3rd October 2013, 13:25   #13
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Default Re: Skoda Octavia : Official Review

Very nice review!

The 1.8 TSI must be mind numbing to drive. I'm just grinning reading about it. But prices are very steep. Taking a rough guess, I think that the prices would be around 16 - 23 lakh OTR Pune!
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Old 3rd October 2013, 13:27   #14
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Default Re: Skoda Octavia : Official Review

5 star detailing Vid.

I'm a little disappointed that Skoda chose to go with the 2 years/unlimited Km warranty despite giving a 5 year comprehensive warranty pack on the much lower priced Rapid. Doesn't do much to highlight Skoda's new so-called "customer centric" approach, does it?

Cheers,

Jay
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Old 3rd October 2013, 13:32   #15
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Default Re: Skoda Octavia : Official Review

Excellent review - can we have the price list of each variant?
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