Skoda India got off to promising start in 2020, revealing the Vision IN midsize SUV concept and showcasing the Karoq, as well as a raft of updates to its existing range at Auto Expo 2020. However, like everyone else, the Czech carmaker, too, has been hit hard by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and has confirmed it has been forced to delay its new model launches, including that of the all-new Octavia, which was originally slated for October 2020.
On the #LiveWithAutocar chat on Instagram, Zac Hollis, Brand Director, Skoda Auto India, said, "Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on our plans, and the launch of the new Octavia will be delayed; it could now happen early in 2021."
The current-gen Octavia – which has been on sale since 2013 – was not upgraded to meet the BS6 emission norms as the new-gen model was due only a few months later. Now, however, it’s certain that a key product will be missing from Skoda’s India line-up for the rest of the year. This means the only models in the segment will be the Hyundai Elantra and the Honda Civic, now that the Toyota Corolla Altis has also been discontinued.
Responding to a viewer’s query during the live chat, Hollis added that while the new Octavia will only get the 190hp, 2.0-litre TSI turbo-petrol engine at launch, the company could look at offering more engine options going forward. Just like the outgoing generation – which was launched with a 1.4-litre TSI engine on the base model – the entry-level variant of the new Octavia, too, is expected to come with a 1.5-litre TSI (which will also power the Volkswagen Group’s upcoming midsize SUVs). Abroad, the new Octavia gets a 1.5 TSI engine mated to a 6-speed manual, and India will likely get the same combo. The 2.0 TSI, meanwhile, is paired with a 7-speed DSG automatic.
To recap some highlights of the new Octavia: it’s based on a reworked version of the Group’s MQB platform, and is longer and wider than its predecessor, with more interior space and a bigger boot. The interior is all new too, and features the Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster, a large touchscreen infotainment system, three-zone climate control and more.
Over the years, Skoda's aftersales service has been an area of complaint for many customers, and it is something the company has focused on, and will continue to focus on going forward, along with improving its presence across the country, added Hollis.
"We’ve been in India for a long time now and have a positive brand image. What I’m working on right now is improving our dealer network and also the reach of our network. At present, we have about 80 sales and service touchpoints in the country, but to have good presence, we’re looking to take that number up to 200 over the next three years. Another area of focus for us is reducing ownership costs. We’ve reduced parts prices over the last two years and will continue to reduce them further over the next 12 months," he said.