New 2013 Skoda Octavia review, test drive
6th Sep 2013 3:51 pm
The new Skoda Octavia is bigger and better than before, and we're keen to see if it can go on to be as popular.
This car brings the Skoda Octavia name back to India. After doodling around with ladies names for what was essentially the European Octavia, Skoda has decided that they should stick to the name that defined its Indian journey. This latest-generation Octavia leapfrogs the Laura to sit above it in Skoda’s Indian saloon range and Skoda is moving further upmarket with the new Octy to take on the likes of the more premium VW Jetta. The new Octavia is not only much bigger than the Laura, but also comes with more powerful engines. The Skoda Octavia is offered with a 177bhp (17bhp more than before) 1.8-litre TSI turbo-petrol and the ubiquitous 2.0-litre turbo-diesel that powers so many VW Group products. There's also
In this exclusive and exhaustive road test, we find out if the new Octavia still upholds all the values that first made the Octavia a popular name.
Also read >> New Skoda Octavia variants in detail
The new Skoda Octavia’s MQB chassis is significantly stiffer than the Laura’s old-generation A5 platform and this has allowed Skoda to get away with a softer suspension setup.
You can see this in the way both the petrol and diesel better isolate you from expansion joint intrusions and rough sections of road so much better than the Laura ever did. However, there are noticeable differences between the dynamic behavior of the 2.0 TDI and 1.8 TSI Skoda Octavias, mainly because of the different rear suspensions. The diesel’s setup, for example, is slightly less pliant than the Jetta’s multi-link rear suspension and, at lower speeds, the torsion beam setup has this mildly annoying drumming sound from the suspension over lumpy surfaces, which gets amplified by the large boot cavity. It’s a sound that makes you think the ride is bumpier than it actually is. Drive the petrol’s more sophisticated setup over the same bit of road and you’ll find it rides quieter and softer, and in fact sets the benchmark for ride quality in this segment. However, it’s the diesel that feels more rock solid on the highway. The slight lumpiness you get at town speeds melds into a flat, unflappable poise at higher speeds, which is typical of a European car.The petrol makes you concentrate harder at high speeds – the softer suspension setup results in a rear end that’s constantly moving around over bumps, and you need to constantly make small steering inputs to counter this. We aren’t complaining though – the involving nature of the 1.8 TSI makes it an utter joy to drive.
In fact, both variants have an exploitable chassis that promises good fun behind the wheel. There’s plenty of grip, especially from the front wheels, that lets you really lean into corners, and even when you overstep the limits, the ESP will smoothly and almost unobtrusively cancel out the resulting understeer. Keen drivers may be disappointed by the steering, which though fairly quick and accurate, has an inert feel. Also, the brakes are quite grabby and a touch over-servoed, and this takes a bit of getting used to. But apart from these foibles, there isn’t much else to complain about.
The diesel Octavia Sedan is slightly more fuel efficient than the Jetta, because it is lighter. Its 12kpl and 17kpl in the city and highway better the Jetta’s figures by 0.2kpl in either cycle. The TSI was surprisingly fuel efficient for the power it makes. Its tech helped it post 9.5kpl in the city and 14kpl on the highway, which is quite impressive. However, be warned – this engine is sensitive to the way it is driven. Constant visits to the redline will result in a drastic drop in fuel efficiency.