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    2021 Skoda Octavia Road Test

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    Bilal Ahmed Firfiray

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    Introduction

    Admittedly, the demand for sedans has been diminutive in the last few years. Car buyers these days either want a large SUV to prove they have made it in life. Or want a small, compact hatchback that’s easy to manoeuvre in the growing urban jungles. Amidst the declining demands, few sedans have still managed to survive the tempest, globally that is. One of the prominent names still standing strong after the increasing SUV-gale is the Skoda Octavia. In its fourth generation now, the Skoda Octavia has grown both physically and technologically. We know it’s been around for some time now, but it is better late than never — let’s put it through CarWale’s comprehensive road test and see whether the Octavia is still the desirable sedan it has always been.

    Design and Dimensions

    Left Front Three Quarter

    With the new-generation leap, the Octavia has grown in size. It now sits at 4,689mm in length, 19mm more than the third-gen model. And the width is up by 15mm to 1,829mm and it’s got a height of 1,469mm. Furthermore, the wheelbase has increased to 2,680mm and the ground clearance measures 137mm. And those gorgeous-looking 17-inch alloy wheels are wrapped in 205/55 section tyres. That’s about the numbers.

    Left Side View

    But what the numbers don’t define is how stately the new-gen Octavia is to look at. You could certainly misidentify it as its elder sibling Superb. The Octavia flaunts its three-box design quite well despite having a notchback roofline. There are sharp character lines seen on the side, on the bonnet, and at a few other right places. Upfront, the newly-designed low-slung nose with a sleeker ‘moustache’ grille lends a new persona to the Czech sedan. It’s flanked by the sharpest looking headlamp design in business with a dual-barrel L-shaped LED that’s part of Skoda’s Matrix lights.

    Left Rear Three Quarter

    Similarly, at the back, the complex lighting signature of the sleek tail lamps looks quite upmarket. There’s lesser drama in the design of the new Skoda Octavia, yet this Czech sedan doesn’t look out of place in the modern milieu.

    Interior Look and Quality

    Dashboard

    As with the exterior, the cabin of the new-gen Octavia has taken a huge leap over its predecessor. It’s a minimalistic cabin with fewer buttons, digital screens, and an artistic looking steering wheel. The two-point steering does look modern and appropriate for a museum showcase, but we wished the buttons and scroll wheels on the steering were a tad more tactile. Behind the steering wheel is the newest iteration of a configurable all-digital driver’s display. It gives out a good amount of information and can double up as a navigation screen. We liked the minimalistic option where the display blacks out, showing only the bare essential details.

    Infotainment System

    Over to the centre console, the free-standing touchscreen is new and easy to reach. The tiles layout on its home screen makes it easier to use, especially on the move. The touch response has also improved too and there are a good amount of connectivity options available. Design-wise, the centrally mounted air vents separate the flowing dash from the centre console. There are a few buttons seen above the vents, but the centre console takes the minimalistic approach to the extreme. The new drive-by-wire gear selector looks ridiculously small, especially when it’s the only prominent thing occupying the centre console. There’s a large tray housing a wireless phone charger and some more storage space below the driver’s armrest.

    Gear Selector Dial

    In terms of quality, the Octavia doesn’t give us a reason to complain. Everything from the fit and finish to the quality of materials used all around is top-notch and looks like it belongs to cars a segment or two higher. There are soft-touch materials used at all the essential touchpoints and then some more. Even the concoction of chrome, piano-black finished plastic, beige and black inserts, and leather upholstery makes Octavia’s cabin a pleasant place to spend time in.

    Space and Comfort

    Front Row Seats

    Upfront, the seats offer a snug fit along with a superb driving posture. Both the 12-way electrically-adjustable front seats are large and accommodating with the right amount of bolstering. And they’re also draped in beige leather (in this L&K trim) for that added touch of richness. You get good visibility all around and the controls are all well placed too. For my frame, that’s 5.5’, there’s a good amount of headroom on offer even with the seat height set to its max. But taller drivers might have to make do with little headroom to spare and adjust the seat accordingly. Thankfully the steering also gets both reach and rake adjustment.

    Second Row Seats

    Similarly at the back, there’s loads of knee room on offer. The backbench could do with a little more contours to offer better support, yet they remain plush and comfortable for two. Owing to the high centre tunnel, a flat seat with protruding armrest and AC vents sitting in the centre won’t be as comfortable. The use of beige material makes the rear space feel airier and there are retractable window shades for when the sun is prominent or there’s a need for some discretion.

    Bootspace and Practicality

    Bootspace

    The Octavia has always been high on space and practicality. That hasn’t changed with the newer generation. In fact, the talking point about the Octavia is its large boot space with a unique fastback-style opening tailgate. The boot space has gone up by 10 litres, now accommodating 600 litres. With 60:40 split-folding seats, the boot space can be increased to whopping 1,555 litres.

    Center Console/Centre Console Storage

    While the ergonomics of Octavia’s cabin are spot on, there’s adequate space to keep your belongings on the centre console, armrest, and door pads as well. For the back seat, Skoda has provided back pockets with a special slot to place your phone. There’s space below the air vents as well and the door pads are large enough for all other knick-knacks.

    Cup Holders

    The centre armrest also has a retractable cup holder for the comfort of rear passengers where most of the owners will be spending their time. One complaint from Octavia would be that all the USB ports provided here are Type-C and not Type-A. So, there’s no possibility of connecting your smartphone if you don’t carry a compatible cable along, which is a slight bummer.

    Features and safety equipment

    Headlight

    Speaking of features, the new Octavia we had with us was in the top-spec L&K trim. The other trim on offer is the Style trim and it doesn’t miss out on many features available in the L&K. The long feature list of the Octavia includes Matrix headlamps, a smart dual-zone climate control, all-digital instrument cluster, 610 watt Canton premium music system, wireless charger, smartphone connectivity, park assist, ambient lighting, auto-dimming IRVM, 17-inch alloy wheels, welcome lights, and a whole pack of Skoda’s ‘Simply Clever’ armoury as well.

    Car Roof

    However, of the features even this fully-loaded trim of the Octavia misses out on – the sunroof, drive modes, 360 degrees camera, and ventilated seats are the prominent ones.

    Instrument Cluster

    The Octavia is high on safety as well. It comes with an arsenal of eight airbags, ABS with EBD, ESC, EBD, TPMS, iBuzz fatigue alert, and AFS. The MySkoda Connect has inbuilt technology that helps in case of an emergency with features such as road side assistance and SOS apart from offering various new-age telematics features such as geofence, time fence, driving behaviour, trip analysis, and much more.

    Engine and Gearbox Performance

    Engine Shot

    Powering the updated Skoda Octavia is the familiar 2.0-litre four-cylinder TSI petrol engine which is also available in the Superb and will be seen in the soon-to-be-launched updated Kodiaq. As we all know by now, there’s no diesel engine for the Skoda Volkswagen family and so the Octavia no more runs an oil burner. This TSI puts out 188bhp and 320Nm and is paired to a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic with new-age drive-by-wire technology. This means there are no mechanical linkages below the gear selector. All the shifting is controlled by computers and electronics.

    Right Front Three Quarter

    Although this petrol engine has got a larger displacement than the older Octavia, the power output is almost identical to the older engine. At idle it’s silent and oozes refinement with zero vibrations or noise seeping into the cabin. And this smooth nature is retained throughout the rev range. At city speeds, there’s enough grunt to keep pace with the traffic. It’s friendly, progressive, and quite usable when driven with a light foot. The dual-clutch DSG gearbox you get here is well-known for being smooth and quick shifting and the Octavia continues this legacy unchanged. The response is almost immediate and power delivery is remarkably linear. In unhurried driving, the motor habitually upshifts close to 1,500rpm. And the seamless DSG works up the cogs quite quickly and unannounced.

    Left Side View

    Now, this motor has a kind of dual personality. Give it some beans and you would hear a resonating snarl as the revs start climbing towards the redline. At this point, the engine comes alive and the Octavia just picks up its skirt and runs like a runaway bride. Three-digit speeds, too, come up at a quick pace. And the best part is you won’t even realise how fast you are going inside the well-insulated cabin until you glance at the speedometer.

    Right Rear Three Quarter

    This being an L&K trim and not the sporty Sportline variant, Skoda hasn’t provided any driving mode here. You get an S mode for the gearbox and an option to turn off the traction control and that’s about it. In the S, the upshifts are delayed translating to eager throttle response. There’s also a provision for manual shifting through paddle shifters which comes in handy during quick overtakes.

    In our V-Box acceleration test, the Skoda Octavia managed to do a zero to 100kmph acceleration run in 8.29 seconds. Whereas the gear acceleration from 20kmph to 80kmph took 4.64 seconds and the 40-100kmph came up in 5.53 seconds.

    Ride, Handling and Braking

    Right Front Three Quarter

    Where Skoda Octavia takes the cake is its ride quality. It’s comfortable like you’d expect from any European model. It managed to absorb all the ruts, creases, and potholes we could subject it to without a second thought. Even on the sharpest of road irregularities, this Czech sedan went over flat and easily without us having to clench our teeth. This being a low slung sedan, we expected it to scrape its belly on large ill-made potholes. But on a contrary, the Octavia just glided over all the road surfaces we subjected it on our road test. At higher speeds, the longer undulations were well under control and the vertical movements were minimum.

    Left Side View

    The only fly in the ointment of the Octavia recipe is its light and almost lifeless steering. It could do with some feedback, but the steering is progressive and direct once past the dead centre. As fast as it goes, the Octavia stops just as well too. In our tested figures, it came to a halt from 100kmph in a brisk 3.39 seconds and within 42 metres. Despite repeated use, the four discs on the Octavia didn’t show any sign of fade. And the strong braking performance inspires confidence to push harder.

    Fuel Economy

    Front View

    We are sure you’d be interested in knowing the fuel efficiency of the 2021 Skoda Octavia. In the city run, this D-segment sedan returned a fuel mileage of 7.48kmpl. The efficiency figures improved, almost doubled, on the highway where it managed to do 14.46kmpl.

    Price and Variants

    Left Front Three Quarter

    Currently, the Octavia is only available in two trims – Style and L&K. It’s on sale in the country at a starting price of Rs 26.29 lakh (ex-showroom, India). Meanwhile, the L&K trim we are driving in this road test can be fetched for Rs 29.29 lakh.

    Conclusion

    Front View

    Undoubtedly the new-gen Skoda Octavia is a big leap over its predecessor – like every generation of Octavia over the last three decades. It is comfortable on the inside and looks handsome on the outside. It’s also equally engaging to drive with newer hardware, putting in every bit of modernity in the way it feels when on the move. Over our not-so-good road surfaces, the new Octi remains unfazed. You can cross continents comfortably in great comfort as the Octavia is a great mile muncher.

    Left Side View

    If we were to nitpick, it could do with some more features to justify its high price tag – like a 360-degree camera and HUD or ventilated seats, to name a few. And there needs to be a sportier version in the line-up as well. The latter might be fixed soon with the arrival of the RS version, but Skoda India hasn’t indicated its imminence yet.

    Rear View

    In conclusion, the new-gen Skoda Octavia has remained a formidable sedan that has stood ground against the uprising popularity of the SUVs. It continues its legacy of being a big, practical, comfortable, and luxurious sedan that is equally good to drive as it is to live with. Buy one while you still can!

    Pictures by Kapil Angane

    Specifications

    CAR NAMESkoda Octavia
    VariantL&K
    ENGINE
    Fuel2.0 TSI Petrol
    Installationfront, transverse
    Displacement1,984cc
    Power188 bhp @ 4,180 rpm
    Torque320 Nm @ 1,500 rpm
    Power to weight128.86bhp per tonne
    Torque to weight 219.98Nm per tonne
    Gearbox7-speed DCT automatic
    CHASSIS & BODY
    Kerb weight1,459kg
    Tyres (F/R)205/55 R17
    Spare-
    STEERING
    Turning circle10.4m
    BRAKES
    FrontVentilated Discs
    RearDiscs
    Anti-lockYes

    Test Data

    CAR NAMESkoda Octavia
    Variant2.0 TSI L&K
    PERFORMANCE & BRAKING
    0-60kph4.2s
    0-100kph9.03s
    0-120kph11.03s
    20-80kph in 3rd gear4.64s
    40-100kph in 5th gear5.53s
    100-0kph3.39s / 42m
    FUEL ECONOMY
    City7.38kmpl
    Highway14.56kmpl
    Tank size50-litres
    Range890km
    INTERIOR MEASUREMENTS
    Front
    Legroom(Max/min)890/670mm
    Headroom(Max/min)1,010/930mm
    Shoulder room1,410mm
    Backrest height660mm
    Rear
    Legroom(Max/min)810/570mm
    Ideal legroom640mm
    Headroom960mm
    Shoulder room1,370mm
    Seat base length460m
    Backrest height630mm
    Boot (with all seats up)
    Length/width/height1,060/1,010/550mm
    Loading lip height710mm

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