Škoda launched the 3rd generation Octavia internationally in December 2012, and it was spotted testing in India around April 2013 and was eventually launched in India in October 2013. It’s been a 5 year old design and still looks brand new. Look at her from any angles, she wow’s you. No wonder they say, European cars look classy even towards the end of their life cycle and probably even after that. The styling is clean and understated no fussy and funny crisscross lines anywhere. The lines are extremely sharp and chiseled and it gives a feel as if Jozef Kaban must have been a brilliant student of geometry in his school days.
Step inside and everything feels elegant. I would have personally preferred a darker shade of Beige as the current lighter shade is definitely a dirt magnet. The three spoke steering wheel with brushed aluminum inserts and paddle shifters behind looks perfect in size. The two pod instrument cluster with a large dot matrix (MID) in between completes the cluster. The dials are easy to read and the data thrown on MID is magnanimous.
The real fun in this car is behind the driver’s seat. Spotting a perfect driving position is not at all difficult as the 12 way electrical adjustable mechanism with memory function does the job well. Fire the engine using the start-stop button; engage the D mode and the car takes some time to move forward unlike the traditional Torque Convertor units where the car nudges ahead immediately after the brake is released. You tap the accelerator and the car moves ahead here. Upshifts are pretty butter smooth no lag anywhere whatsoever and more importantly one do not feel that the gearbox is working. Even before one realizes, you end up doing triple digit speeds very easily.
The ability of the car to mask speeds is in league with the big Germans for sure. And what I particularly liked is the way car keeps out all the road noise out of the windows. The cabin is completely serene and calm place to be.
The 1.8 Tsi engine is a gem of an engine for sure and coupled with super-fast 7 speed DSG, I think this car is a lethal combination of performance and practicality both bundled into one. All this on a chassis that is tight and coupled with superior multi-link suspension all around, the car truly is a brilliant handler. It’s truly a point and shoot kind of a machine.
In a nutshell then, what I like and What I think could have been better. What I Like
What I think could have been better
- Premium Quality inside out
- Acres of Space, inside the car as well as in the boot and a unique panoramic sunroof
- Explosive 1.8 Tsi engine with torque and power always on hand
- Features list, which is longer than my wife’s monthly grocery list
- 5 star rated NCAP Safety Rating Safety features now include 8 airbags and continues with all other features like (EBD, ABS, ESP, EDL, MKB and more)
- Magnanimous MID throws practically everything you asked for and even more
Škoda Octavia a brief history
- Skimping on utilitarian features which costs penny, considering they were present in earlier variant.
- Strictly for 4 occupants only, 5th one will be highly uncomfortable sitting behind
- Škoda should have added a sub and an amp to an already amazing audio setup to complete the package.
- Škoda should have provided Garmin Maps as opposed to extremely sad MapMyIndia Maps.
- Škoda should have given better tires instead Goodyear Tires. The NCT5 are just not able to cope up with the demanding chassis of the car.
The first generation Octavia was released in November 1996 and was built at the modernized Škoda factory in Mladá Boleslav, Czech Republic. This generation was made available in hatchback or estate styles only.
The second generation Octavia was introduced in March 2004, based on the Volkswagen Group A5 (PQ35) platform also used by other Volkswagen Group cars, such as the Audi A3 Mk2, Volkswagen Golf Mk5, Volkswagen Jetta Mk5, SEAT León Mk2, etc.
Responsible for the design were Thomas Ingenlath and Peter Wouda. Along with a new internal combustion engine range, also shared with other models of the Volkswagen Group, body changes included more legroom for rear seat passengers (a weak point in the original model) and increased ground clearance at front and rear to reduce the risk of grounding on steep ramps or facing kerbs.
In India, the second-generation Octavia was marketed as the Laura to distinguish it from the first generation. The car was marketed in a higher segment, and was sold alongside the previous generation Octavia. However the first generation ended production in India in 2010, and as of 2012 the Laura's price was reduced and was competing in its predecessor's segment.
The third generation Octavia was revealed on 11 December 2012, at the Škoda museum in Mladá Boleslav. The car began to appear in showrooms in key European markets in February 2013. And it made its way to India in October 2013. It has had minor revisions in its variants and features in offer ever since 2013. Every year Skoda has been adding few and deleting few features here and there. But thankfully over the period of time, none of the safety features were given a miss. Škoda Octavia Design Philosophy (Overall Exterior)
The car, designed by Jozef Kabaň, recalls the VisionD concept car presented in 2011. The new model is 9 cm (3.54 in) longer and 4.5 cm (1.77 in) wider than the second generation and the wheelbase lengthened by 8 cm (3.15 in). It is also up to 102 kilograms lighter than the previous model. The interior length of the third generation Škoda Octavia has grown - in comparison to its predecessor - by 33 mm (1.30 in) to 1.782 mm (0.07 in), while the legroom for the backseat passengers grew by 47 mm (1.85 in) to now 73 mm (2.87 in). The headroom in the back was increased to 980 mm (38.58 in) (Octavia II: 966 mm (38.03 in)). The elbow width was also increased, in the front by 39 mm (1.54 in) to 1.454 mm (0.06 in), and in the rear by 26 mm (1.02 in) to 1.499 mm (0.06 in). Similarly, the shoulder room was optimized, in the front to 1.398 mm (0.06 in) by adding 19 mm (0.75 in), and in the rear to 1.378 mm (0.05 in), a plus of 4 mm (0.16 in). The luggage compartment volume is a class leading 590 l (20.84 cu ft), slightly more than the 585 l (20.66 cu ft) of the previous generation model or 565 l (19.95 cu ft) of the larger Volkswagen Passat.
All this translates into a car which is proportionate in all angles and a design which looks fresh even after 5 years of its existence. Personally I feel that the lighter colors on this car highlight the length and subtle design that it carries, whereas the darker shade is able to mask the length and design elements. Škoda Octavia Design Philosophy (Overall Interior)
Step inside the Octavia, and one thing that surrounds you is sheer luxury. Anyone and Everyone who have stepped inside the car have come out with a Wow expression on their faces. The dashboard design is contemporary yet simplistic, following beige and black color combination. Ergonomics are spot on and finding the right driving position is not at all a problem. The center console houses a 6 inch touch screen audio system which also doubles up as an on-board computer to control practically everything in the car. The instrument cluster is typical Škoda with two analogue pods flanked with a MID display in the center. The Style Plus variant comes with a three spoke steering wheel with paddle shifters. To be honest, till date in my three months of ownership, I have never felt a need to use those shifters. I personally found the gearbox intelligent enough to do what it is supposed to do.
Fit and finish in some areas I found could have been better. For example, the glove box doesn’t close in the first attempt. Similarly the rear manual blinds, the mechanism is a bit fidgety and looks like will give away if used on and off.
One of the major highlight of the updated Octavia was the introduction of Apple Car Play and Navigation. While there is nothing worthwhile to write about Navigation, Apple Car Play has absolutely made life easy. Connect the phone using the Apple Cable and viola the phone gets mirrored on the screen. You cannot help but notice the ease with which you are able to play audio, or take or make calls. Additionally it also keeps charging the battery for the phone. However, the audio player is able to play audio through aux in, USB, Bluetooth and SD card slot in case if you don’t want to use Apple Car Play or Android Auto.
While dual zone climatronic AC is good to have, it’s not a must have feature in my books. Probably in a chauffeur driven environment, it would make more sense. But as I drive most of my cars, I end up putting the temperature in sync mode. The cooling is pretty decent for the size of the car.
Come to the rear and one thing that impresses is huge amount of legroom. The angle of rear seats coupled with good under thigh support and good quality leather, ensures you arrive at your destination fresh. The rear sun blind is definitely a boon to have, however would have liked if the car came with sun blinds for windows too. The only hitch in the entire scheme of events is the transmission tunnel hump. It seriously at all times is a 4 seater sedan. Nevertheless it is able to transport the shetji from place A to place B in utmost comfort, luxury and style. Engine, Transmission & Fuel Efficiency Engine
German engineering generally is believed to be expensive, dedicated to dynamically gifted luxury cars and autobahn-scorching sport coupes.
But Volkswagen definitively demonstrates the integration of advanced technology into a brilliant and practical package need not cost a lot of money. The 1.8T is among the most affordable power plants springing from the smartly crafted third-generation EA888 engine family, which includes high-output 2.0T versions in the VW GTI and Audi S3. The EA888 engines are a family of four cylinder engines that are currently in use across the Volkswagen Group. The EA888 family is an Audi-designed unit that features some of the latest engine technology such as direct fuel injection, sintered camshaft lobes, thin-walled engine block, variable valve timing and lift for intake and exhaust valves, downstream oxygen sensors, turbocharger integrated into cylinder head, exhaust gas recirculation and cooling, distributor-less coil-on-plug ignition, lightweight engine internals, slide valve thermostat (some variants), and the addition of port fuel injection to aid low load fuel consumption and cold start emissions. The port fuel injection also aids in reducing the potential carbon deposits that can occur in direct injected engines. Currently, the EA888 engine is available in two sizes: 1.8T and 2.0T.
Interestingly, the 1.8T in India for now is used only by Škoda. The only other car to have this setup earlier was the Audi A3 and the Audi A4. With 180 PS coupled with 250 NM of torque, nobody needs an introduction to this engine. Performance is easily the best in class, and beats all cars from a segment up too. Sometimes I think the car has a split personality, the car is docile in nature, when in city traffic pothering behind the ocean cars as nimbly as possible and show her an open stretch of road, and she changes her color like a chameleon eating up anything that comes up her way. This is precisely why I call her the one with Mental Disorder. She can put you in all sorts of trouble when you and she, both are in the mood to go really fast.
For some cars it is said that attaining triple digits is difficult, but for the Octavia, staying below triple digit speeds is difficult.
Globally now the 1.8T is getting replaced by the 2.0T, it remains to be seen if with the Octavia facelift, 1.8T will be on offer or will be replaced by the 1.4T Transmission
A direct-shift gearbox (German: Direkt-Schalt-Getriebe), commonly abbreviated to DSG, is an electronically controlled dual-clutch multiple-shaft manual gearbox, in a transaxle design – without a conventional clutch pedal, and with full automatic, or semi-manual control. The first actual dual-clutch transmissions derived from Porsche in-house development for 962 racing cars in the 1980s.
In simple terms, a DSG is two separate manual gearboxes (and clutches), contained within one housing, and working as one unit. It was designed by BorgWarner, and is licensed to the Volkswagen Group
DQ200 was launched at the start of 2008 as seven speed DSG Transaxle. It differs from the six-speed DSG, in that it uses two single-plate dry clutches. It has considerably less oil capacity than the six-speed DQ250; this new DQ200 uses just 1.7 litres of transmission fluid. All this has helped the gearbox to upshift much quickly as compared to the DQ250, but the problem with DQ200 is that it gets really hot during operation. Typically in the Asian climatic conditions, it has been the most problematic gearbox for VAG cars.
Also, the 7-speed DQ200 and 6-speed DQ250 gearboxes sometimes suffer from power-loss (gear disengaging) due to short-circuiting of wires caused by a build-up of sulphur in the transmission oil. It would be interesting to note that on November 14, 2013, Volkswagen Group announced a major worldwide recall over problems with the 7-speed DSG gearbox (model: DQ200) which might lead to loss of power, covering some 1.6m cars including those carrying the Audi, Skoda and SEAT badges
Whatever said and done, personally, I don’t think there is any other gearbox technology in the market as advanced or as complex as DSG. Now how does all this complex mechanism help, let me give you my perspective after using Torque Converter unit for almost 5 years in my Honda City
- I could make out that the cogs are getting engaged/disengaged in my City, but here in DSG, its extremely seamless and you just cannot make out that the car has changed gears
- Overtaking needed lot of planning with City, but here in the DSG, a quick dab on the accelerator prepares the gearbox for easy overtaking by downshifting one or sometimes two gears simultaneously.
- Fuel economy from a 1.8 ltr engine which gets pushed every time I get an empty stretch is around 12.5 kmpl to 13.5 kmpl. I used to get similar numbers in Honda City, after being driven in the same fashion. So here I am assuming, the DSG is doing its job well of increasing the fuel efficiency numbers. Had it been a torque convertor unit here, it would have given much lesser economy. Consider this, my colleague owns the New Elantra Petrol SX(O) AT, The 2.0 ltr engine there, with 150 PS of power, on his recent highway run gave him a range of 500 kms before he had to refuel. On the same highway, Octavia with more power on tap showed me 550 kms on the ODO before the empty sign glowed.
3500 kms on the ODO in the last three months of ownership, and 70% of that has been in the city bumper to bumper commute and 30% of that has been on pure highway inter-city runs. During the city runs, the car returns around 8 kmpl to 9 kmpl depending on the traffic and on those highways, if driven sedately returns 15 kmpl. However, it is difficult to drive this car sedately, considering the amount of power it has on offer. So mostly on those highway runs, I have ended up getting fuel economy between 12.5 kmpl to 13.5 kmpl. Am I complaining? If I had to complain, then probably I would have gone with the Diesel variant. Ride Quality & Handling
One of the primary reasons I chose the petrol over the diesel, apart from that stonker of an engine was the superior multi-link suspension. While you may not appreciate how brilliant it is in your regular city drives, but take the car on the highways especially on the twisters, and you start appreciating on how the car rides and handles. It is right up there with the German Trio. Drive the Octavia through fast corners and you realize what a fantastic machine you have bought for yourself. The only downer in this entire package is the stock Goodyear Tire. They just don’t do any justice to the car’s capabilities. I am soon going to upgrade to Continentals Max-Contact MC5.
Another thing that the Octavia manages to do very well as I mentioned earlier too is masking the speeds. It’s just impossible to tell what speeds you are doing unless you glance at the speedometer. It also manages to soak the mild bumps and adulation's on the road with aplomb.
What I would have loved was if the steering gave absolutely precise feedback as to what the tires were up to. Don’t get me wrong here, I am nowhere saying its bad however, it doesn’t feel German enough. This can be attributed to electro mechanical steering wheel partly, partly to the tires and lastly partly to the weight reduction. The MQB platform has made the car almost 100 kg lighter than the outgoing Laura.
Overall I would say, a brilliant car which does what it has set out to do at the first place. Put a wide smile on your face every-time you crank her up.
Thank you for reading through. I will be soon updating the thread with Mods that I am planning to carry out and update with niggles as and when they surface.
Adding some parting photos before a proper photoshoot is done.
Opening Pics Credit: fellow team-bhpian and a friend Pritam Pawar