SKODA OCTAVIA 1.8TSi – 3year Relationship Report
My Rio Red 1.8TSi octy and I completed 3 years of partnership today. We have driven 30000km during this time- and as with any relationship, we have had our ups and downs. However, on the whole, there have been much more ups than downs, the recipe of a successful relationship over time.
Here is my report on the report of our 3 year long relationship. The courtship:
The affair started in summer of 2013. At that time, I was in a relationship with a 2009 Honda City automatic (the erstwhile ANHC), and had a trouble free association. The ANHC was totally undemanding; I had not needed to open the bonnet even once in between the 6 monthly service cycles. Having crossed 50K km, our relationship began to stale. Minor irritations began appearing HUGE. The primary gripes were with the ground clearance, poor headlights and corrosion on the running boards. It was time to move on.
At around this time, I heard about the new Octavia. This European belle had all the right pedigree and the specs looked great. It seemed a worthy upgrade to the Honda City. Many a night were spent reading every last word about the vehicle online-every review and test drive report was read, reread and analysed. I finally decided to pursue this new muse.
Contacted the Tafe Access showroom and was offered a test drive – however this was in the 2L Diesel DSG. There was no TSi available for test drive. Did a couple of test drives and decided to take matters further. Broke the news to my wife, who was pretty sporting about it and gave me the go ahead to get into this new relationship. So, without actually doing a test drive of the 1.8TSi, I went ahead and made the booking of a silver 1.8TSi, something that was thought to be a sober color, in keeping with my age!!!
Soon thereafter, began reading stories about the infamous DSG issues with the 1.8TSi. This truly caused some troubled moments and introspection-should I go ahead with the this at all ,or should I break it off right away. One evening, shot off an email to Skoda India listing the various online sites that described the DSG problems with the VAG cars. This was around Nov 2013. Received a prompt and reassuring reply from Skoda India, something to the effect that they stand by their product and that I can be assured of prompt resolution of any problems that may arise. They had copied this mail to Tafe Access-the customer service head from here too called and reassured me. I was told that the deliveries of the 1.8TSi was slow and that my car would not be available until after feb 2014. Anyway, I was committed and decided to wait it out. The New Muse comes home:
Unexpectedly, I received a call from the Sales Executive, that a Rio Red 1.8TSi had been made available to Tafe Access and it was available to me immediately, should I decide to go ahead. The SA was a true match maker and even sent me photos of the prospective match. I made the trip to their yard and saw the car in the flesh. I was truly smitten- love at first sight! However, the aforementioned age issue cropped up- will it appear like a trophy partner-a vivacious young one on the arm of a greying gentlemen. Would it border on scandalous, would I be accused of a mid-life crisis and madness?
There is only one way to make a decision when you are married – ask the wife. That is what I did and she straight away gave me a go ahead.
Thereafter, things moved rapidly. Within the next 5-6 days, sorted the finance (from Axis bank), sold my old faithful Honda (via an online site) and waited to delivery. The car was finally delivered to me on the 30th of Jan 2014. The Journey So far:
Its been 3 years exactly as I write this report. The first 2 years were absolutely trouble free and our relationship was like a really pleasant dream. We , along with my family made several long trips-to Chennai,coorg, mysore several times, to Pondicherry, to valparai and several others. Fortunately, my daily commute is short and does not entail inner city driving. What I liked:
1. Truly spacious, comfortable and modern car, with good NVH control
2. Very stable at on the road and at highway speeds
3. 1.8TSI has all the power that I needed and pulled away in a smooth and linear manner on accelerating. I don’t use the “S” mode. “D” mode provides for all my requirements- not a boy racer anymore I guess (please note the aforementioned age issues!)
4. A truly drivers car, and also great to be driven around in-the front and rear seats are spacious and the ride very comfortable
5. The ground clearance is excellent-ingress and egress is easy and effortless
6. The car does not bottom out – hardly had a couple of thuds over truly large craters over the course of the ownership
7. The steering is light in city and weighs up well at speed
8. Breaking is good and reassuring
9. The Adaptive Xenon Head lamps are brilliant-pun intended! (remember poor headlight was a major gripe with the Honda)
10. Great boot – more than enough for anything short of moving home
11. The parcel tray neatly tucks into a slot that keeps it unobtrusive when stowed away.
12. With the rear seats folded down, the boot can really take a lot.
13. Good AC with adequate cooling
14. Sun roof is great fun-either fully open or with the screen pulled open to let the sun in.
15. Parking sensors and system is great-having a set on the front is really useful.
16. Milage- I get about 10-11km/L during my daily commute. On the highway, averages of 15-16km/l are not unusual. I use regular petrol and not the high RON ones.
17. The annual service cycle was a welcome change to Honda’s 6 monthly visits to the garage What I didn’t like
:(No deal breakers here though)
1. Lack of rear view camera seemed like a important omission earlier on, however, the parkatronic is good and useful. I do not miss the camera anymore.
2. Lack of GPS navigation-I thing google maps now is far superior, especially since it gives traffic status and turn-by-turn instructions
3. Some minor squeaks and rattles have developed over the years
4. Spares , especially major ones, take their time arriving at the workshop from the factory
5. Only a single charger port. Would be nice to have one for the rear passenger too.
The third year of our association was significantly more turbulent. Jan 2016:
While returning from Mysore one evening, got an alert stating that engine was overheating. I had not yet exited the city limits. Immediately called the Skoda help line and was directed to drive slowly to the service centre- Sagar Autotech. Unfortunately, the helpline gave me a wrong telephone number. However, google came to our rescue and we found the place without too much difficulty. They did a check of the vehicle. The coolant levels were very low, although they could not find any leak. The coolant was topped up, some spare quantity was provided in a can and we were on our way after a couple of hours.
On returning to Bangalore, I got the car checked out in detail at Tafe access showroom and they could not identify any leak either. The problem has since not recurred-so I guess it is sorted.
But more turbulence was in store!!! Jun 2016
The problem started as a perceptible jerking of the car as it came out of 2nd gear-especially during shifting up. Initially it was rather mild, however, over the next couple of weeks it became more obvious and actually began interfering with driving. The car would almost stall when accelerating out of 2nd and 3rd gears to higher gears. I took the car to the Tafe Access workshop. They kept the car for about 2 weeks. The clutch plate and some other parts were changed and the car handed back saying the problem was fixed. From what I understand, engineers from Skoda were in the loop and were advising on the repairs. I was provided with a loaner car for the duration- a beat up manual Rapid with bits falling off. July 2016
However, within a matter of a couple of weeks, the problems recurred. This time the car actually began shuddering at lower gears and also in reverse. The engine would rev but the gears would not engage. After much shuddering and rattle the car would finally move forward. It was scary and impossible to drive. Once again, called Tafe Access. The car was picked up and take to the service centre. This time there was greater seriousness about the whole affair. I was given a DSG Laura in a good condition as a loaner. They took about a week for the diagnostics. I was told that engineers from the parent company were on the scene. Finally, it was labelled as a mechatronics failure and the part was to be replaced. The item took another 10 days to arrive from Aurangabad. All in all , the car was in the service centre for almost a month.
I wrote to Skoda India again, and sent them a copy of their mail to me from 2013.
To be fair, both the Tafe Access service manager and the Skoda liason were on the phone regularly and providing updates on the progress of the work done. Maximum time was spent in waiting for the parts to arrive.
Once the work was completed, the car was delivered home personally by the service manager. I was allowed to keep the loaner for a few more days until I was absolutely certain that my car was fine. Both these gestures were unexpected and reassuring. September 2016
One fine evening, a 3-wheeler (Ape), came rushing out of blind spot at great speed and we brushed against each other. My beauty, my muse, acquired a rather ugly gash along the front left fender. As in a bad Bollywood movie, the driver of the Ape had no license , no insurance and no papers.
He escaped in the cross roads and was lost. Thought I had the registration number of the vehicle, a search revealed that the registration of the vehicle had expired. After much debate and discussion, I decided against going to the police and filing a complaint.
I did show the car to a couple of 3rd party garages for repairs and received quotations. However, I decided to go back to the company workshop for the repairs for the following reasons:
1. the car was still under extended warranty
2. It has undergone major repairs and mechatronics replacement only a few weeks ago
3. There was a possibility that the headlamp had cracked and may need replacement.
Eventually, the repairs were carried out by Tafe Access workshop. They took about 2 weeks. The insurance guys cleared repairs in a couple of days. The head lamp assembly took time arriving. On the whole, the finished job was good. November 2016
Again, one evening, the car would not start. A call to the service manager at Tafe Access quickly identified the problem as a dead battery. He gave me a number of a local exide battery dealer. The guy arrived at my workplace car park and changed the battery on the spot. It cost about 8K (including some rebate for the old battery). To conclude:
Any relationship has the following stages:
1. Attraction and yearning
2. Coming together
3. A honeymoon period when all in beautiful and warm and fuzzy
4. After the 2nd year, some turbulence in the relationship. However, things are ironed out and a degree of comfort with each other ensues. We appreciate one another’s strengths and weaknesses and learn to cope and get along!
We, that is my Car and I, too have had a similar progression over the years. 2016 has been a rough year, with the car spending almost 2-3 months in the garage. To be fair, I was looked after well by the Service Centre (a special note of thanks to Mr.Naveen, the service manager at Tafe Access Hosur Road workshop) and Skoda. There were problems that were identified and sorted out. In the interim, I was provided with a loaner car and all repairs were carried out under warranty with no cost to me. The body work after the scrape was done under insurance. So atleast in these instances, the Skoda after sales support did okay. Yes, they could have gotten things done a tad faster-but when one stands back and takes a broader view, a few extra days don’t seem that long after a few months! About year 4:
1.The extended warranty will run out at the end of the 4th year. I am a bit nervous about not. Having the safety net in case major issues like the DSG gremlins crop up again after that.
2. The tyres will need changing perhaps Post Script:
The four year itch has started already and I am already looking forward to a possible next muse! Any suggestions for an upgrade path?