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Skoda Octavia 1.9 TDi

10th Dec 2009 8:00 am

Here is a high quality car that has an air of indestructibility


  • Make : Skoda
  • Model : Octavia

The Octavia shares the same platform as the Volkswagen Golf and  Audi A3. The front wheels are suspended by the Golf’s famous MacPherson strut that is aided by a stout lower wishbone for improved front wheel location. Because the platform is shared, the rear suspension too comes from the Golf. The space-saving transverse link dead axle with trailing arms was designed to minimise intrusion into the luggage area and Skoda’s designers have made full use of this. 
Obvious and necessary suspension alterations have been carried out by Skoda after substantial testing in India. Though the design of the suspension components remains unchanged, it’s been extensively recalibrated.

Unlike the petrol variant which comes with discs all round and ABS brakes, the diesel has no anti-lock option and gets drums at the rear. Now you know why the diesel costs the same as the petrol!
The stocky and chunky styling gives the Octavia a robust look, just what Skoda wants. The current model has been mildly face-lifted this year with subtle upgrades to the headlights and chin section. The Octavia comes with attractive plastic wheel caps but a smart set of alloys (not standard) would have given it more street presence.

The Octavia’s wheelbase is pretty short in relation to its overall dimensions. This negatively impacts passenger space but the large overhang means there is loads of room for luggage. In fact more so than virtually any car around. Lift the tailgate and there’s an amazing 528 litres under the parcel tray, the luggage-carrying capacity can be upped to an estate- crushing 1300-plus litres of space — once the split rear seats have been folded.

The insides of the Octavia have an overriding sense of functionality which subdues any air of luxury, you would expect from a Rs 10 lakh-plus car.

The square dashboard looks unimaginative as well. But look closely and you quickly realise that everything is made up of top quality materials and the fit and finish of everything is difficult to fault, keeping in mind the price of the car. No, the interior quality is not as good as the Mondeo’s but is ahead of the Astra and that’s saying something. We still can’t get over the way the Octavia’s air vents shut micron tight. The switches too feel great and  we loved the clarity of the instruments. However, the instrument binnacle’s failure to eliminate stray reflections is an embarrassing pitfall.

That said, the sophisticated action of the cup holder cover smacks of quality and the manner in which the stereo systems rear tweeters are incorporated into the door handle mouldings is neat. A large glovebox and four generous door pockets offer loads of space for carrying knick knacks.
The front seats are pretty supportive and both get height and lumbar adjustment, though it’s all done manually. The steering wheel is also adjustable for height and rake. The rear seats are pretty wide but legroom is more in the league of a C-segment car, the Octavia unable to hide its Golf wheelbase.

Equipment level wise, you get a full range of adjustments for both the front seats. Airbags are standard for both front passengers and the rear seat also gets three seatbelts. An onboard computer is also standard which calculates average speed, fuel consumption, range and also gives a read-out of the outside temperature. Other nice touches include the tiny sun visor above the rearview mirror, a headlamp leveller, courtesy lamps and windows that wind themselves up when you lock the car.

The stiff suspension set-up can feel a little too firm in some circumstances, especially over small ripples, manhole covers and expansion joints in town. The upshot of this stiff setup is that the worst of our roads is easy game for the Octavia. Large potholes, speedbreakers and bad surfaces are soaked up with minimum disruption to the cabin. Straightline stability is also impressive, the Octavia tracking dead straight even in excess of triple-digit figures, with only minor corrections required at the wheel even on broken surfaces; the happy balance between good ride and straightline stability allow you to hold higher average speeds without getting the jitters.

The Octavia’s handling is pretty benign. The steering is not very quick or responsive but offers a meaty feel. It doesn’t have the agility of a smaller car but its road manners are confidence inspiring all the same.

In town, the Octavia is pretty manoeuvrable thanks to a tight turning circle. However, rear visibility is poor thanks to the fat C-pillars and a lip inside the hatch. Despite having drums at the rear, the Octavia’s brakes gave us nothing to complain about, providing good pedal feel and short stopping distances.

Skoda Octavia 1.9 TDi
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