When the Skoda Octavia was launched in 2002 it changed the game for performance sedans in this country. Prior to that if an enthusiast was looking for something exciting he/she looked abroad, or modified the existing cars available then. The Octavia since then has gone on to develop a massive cult following. When Skoda announced their latest face lift of the Octavia last year it was met with lots of enthusiasm. Worldwide, Skoda has sold over 50 lakh units of the Octavia.The Octavia has a split-headlamp cluster called the Quadra LED headlights. The reason for this name is because they are split into four compartments with the low and high beams being separated. LED daytime running lights and fog lamps on the bumper are part of the kit. There is a chrome strip running across the bumper which gives the car a premium finish. The grille is glossy black, with some creases across the hood which weren’t there in the earlier version. The front fenders are far more sculpted adding to the muscular look of the Octavia. The tail lamps at the rear are LED units with a rear bumper that has been revised too.One of the new features the Octavia gets is the Park Pilot. Once you activate this, the car manoeuvres itself while parking. The driver still plays a role applying the brakes whenever necessary. There are proximity sensors all over the car with the customary reverse parking camera.
Step into the car and the first thing you notice is the new 9 inch infotainment scree with capacitive touch. The interface is very smooth and fast with a resolution ratio of 800×480. The Octavia comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Mirror Link to pair your phone with. Skoda has an app called “Boss Connect”. This app lets owners who usually sit in the rear seat control the infotainment system from there.There’s ambient lighting with 10 colours on offer as well! One can increase and decrease the brightness of the lights in the footwell and doors. A panoramic sunroof is also part of the package. Two USB ports for rear passengers below the rear AC vent are there as well. The interiors are extremely plush and classy with soft-touch plastics and a beige/black two-tone colour scheme. Lots of leg room and space in the cabin make this a very comfortable space, where one can spend long hour driving or being driven around.The Octavia comes with two engine variants, the 1.8-litre TSI and the 2.0-litre TDI. I drove the diesel variant and boy or boy what an engine. All the Skoda cars I have driven in the past have been amongst the best driver cars in terms of performance. So much power is available through the power band. This comes with the legendary 6 speed DSG gearbox. If there was a lifetime achievement award given to a gearbox, the DSG would win it hands down. That’s how good it is. The power and torque output is 140.8 bhp and 320 Nm. The claimed mileage is 19.3 kmpl.
Safety which is hallmark with all VW family cars sees the base trim of the Octavia get 4 airbags. The top trim gets 8 airbags with dual airbags upfront and at the sides. ABS, EBD and traction control are standard across the variants.
We drove with the Octavia to Kamshet. It’s located 120 kms from Mumbai along the Mumbai – Pune Expressway. Driving the Octavia on empty roads early in the morning was the perfect demonstration of the handling prowess of the car. Acceleration is rapid, before you realise it, the Octavia is touching three digit speeds. To get to Kamshet one must take the 2nd Lonavala exit and get on to the Mumbai – Bangalore Highway.It’s a picturesque hill station in the Western Ghats, which is renowned for paragliding and flying schools. Kamshet is regularly featured in the top 10 must visit destinations adventure junkies. Driving in these natural scenic surrounding on narrow roads was a refreshing break from the highway. In Kamshet one can enjoy the surroundings and have a closer look at the village life of India with muddy huts and village markets. The area is surrounded by paddy and sunflower fields and it provides an awesome view while you are enjoying the world class paragliding facilities here.
After spending a day of taking in the sights it was time to head back. This was a day well spent driving one of my favourite car to a location that is still untouched by development.Pricing for the Skoda Octavia starts at 18.91 Lakhs for the 1.4 TSI Ambition Petrol Manual and 21.79 Lakhs for the 2.0 TDI CR Ambition Diesel Manual. Prices are on road Price (inclusive of GST), Mumbai.