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Skoda Octavia

Tags: octavia skoda

Skoda Octavia is a practical family car that also happens to be rather stylishly designed. With a choice of 6 engines, including the powerful 2.0 TDI, the new Octavia performs as well on the road as it does in the value for money stakes. When you consider that air conditioning is now standard on the entry level Classic models and alloy wheels are now standard on mid level ambient models, the price is even more difficult to fathom.

Now, the new Octavia is pretty spacious but if you really want to take the kitchen sink with you, the new Octavia Estate might be a better choice. With the rear seats folded down it can swallow a whopping 1,620 liters. Perhaps next year we should enter it in the ‘Small Family Car with a Massive Interior’ category instead. Octavia is a product of the Czech company that is now part of the Volkswagen family; the group has a worldwide reputation for very high level of build and interior quality for its vehicles. The Octavia with its stately elegant looks has an all European design, with a smooth, uncluttered streamlined body.

The rounded nose and the high waistline bear out its resemblance to another of its world-renowned family member - the Audi. The Octavia has the largest variants in its segment, from 2.0 petrol through a 1.9-turbo diesel and a new variant with a turbocharged high tech petrol engine - the Octavia RS. The Octavia RS is the star in the range with a turbocharged 1781 cc liter engine making 150 bhp and 21.4 kgm peaking at 5700 rpm that zips to a 100 kmph in under 9 secs. The diesel variant is amongst the best in its segment - powerful and frugal. With its 1896 cc turbo-diesel it has set the pace to match most petrol cars and is an excellent long distance vehicle. It provides an astonishing 18.9 kpl on the highway and 12.7 kpl within the city ambit.

A new four speed automatic diesel variant is another recent addition to its stable, which is a great attraction to self-driven owners, although it remains less frugal than its manual variants. Its bold chassis and suspension and big tyres imbue the Octavia with the perfect balance between ride and handling. Whatever the surface or speed, this immaculate vehicle rides superbly. Skoda Auto has ensured the high standards for its models in India just as for its products in the best markets in the world. The Skoda Octavia by all standards would emerge from any Test as amongst the best family cars in the Indian market.

Comfort

Front and rear space have been improved significantly, and although it’s Golf based, the Octavia is now sufficiently large to actually compete in the Laguna and Mondeo category. Ride quality is very good. The supple suspension which helps it handle so well also means lumps and bumps are absorbed better. The Octavia looks distinguished in the kind of way that Lancias once did. With its prominent grille and conservative front end, there’s a gravitas to the Octavia that has carried over into the Fabia, becoming a Skoda family look. Designed to target the Far Eastern companies at the bottom of the medium range sector such as Daewoo, Proton and Hyundai, the Octavia was probably too successful for its own good. Not only did it beat these rivals on almost every subjective criterion you could imagine, it also ate into the sales of VW group rivals from allegedly more prestigious brands.

The boot is big enough to be hired out as a concert venue and the 60/40 split folding rear seats allows larger loads to be carried with ease. The seats however don’t fold completely flat. The interior design tends to conjure up words such as ‘sensible’ and ‘practical’ but never ‘interesting’ or ‘exciting.’ Finished in a dull grey, the new Octavia doesn’t convey that luxury feel the minute you get into it. Slivers of faux aluminum span the cockpit in an attempt to lighten what is otherwise a somber and lifeless ambience, but this feels like an afterthought. However, once you live with the car, begin to stroke and touch the interiors, you discover the sheer quality of the materials is astonishing. The older car’s interiors are superbly built but the new Octavia takes the game further and will shame many more expensive machines. Every surface has a pleasantly honed and substantial feel that would not be out of place in an Audi.

The new dashboard is logically laid out with simple graphics and clear dials, while most of the major controls are housed in the centre section. The stereo is built into the centre console and operates from a large screen surrounded by ‘soft keys’ that aren’t always really intuitive, but otherwise, the switchgear is easy to navigate. The interiors feel very well crafted, from the solid door pads to the ‘slush-molded’ dash-top that gives a tactile impression of exceedingly high quality.

Though the new Octavia is badged a 1.9 TDi, it’s powered by an engine that’s quite different from the 1.9 turbo diesel found in the older Octavia. The new model gets VW’s pumpe-duse motor, which in 1.9-litre form pumps out 103bhp. This engine instantly feels livelier than the older Octavia’s. It’s responsive, eager and ready to leap into a gap in traffic or move away rapidly from a set of lights. But on the open road and goaded by the Octavia’s well-balanced chassis, you often need to work the engine harder than you’d think. The need to work the 1.9 motor exposes what is possibly the new Octavia’s biggest drawback: a lack of refinement. Maybe we expected the new Octavia to move the game on but the gruff engine is as noisy as the older model. Not only does it have awkward harmonics, but you can feel the engine vibrate through the pedals and gearknob. As if to make up, the slick gearshift with its short throw is a delight to use, and the ratios are well stacked.

With the independently-suspended VW Golf Mk5 platform as a base, the new Octavia, not surprisingly, comes with dynamics far ahead of the older car’s. It’s not that the older Octavia has bad road manners — in fact, it’s got the best ride and handling in its class. This means the dynamics of the new Octavia promise to be a quantum leap ahead of its rivals in India. The benefits of a well-sorted multi-link suspension set-up are immediately apparent. The new Octavia doesn’t pitch like the older model and is a lot more agile. It rides with real poise, the suspension dealing with all types of road surfaces in a quiet, controlled fashion and body control is generally very good. It’s only on long undulations taken at speed that the combination of a soft suspension and the weight of the iron-block engine up front can set the car’s nose nodding. Grip levels are decent even though the Octavia we drove was shod with modest 195/65-ZR15 rubber.

When Skoda launches the Octavia early next year, it is sure to take the game forward in the luxury segment. The car’s biggest weakness, a lack of legroom, so critical in our predominantly chauffeur-driven market, has been addressed. It’s now hard to find a serious chink in the new Octavia’s armour and if the car is priced correctly, Skoda has a sure-shot winner on its hands. That said, the fact that it is the VW Groups bargain brand is perceptible, especially on the inside. The interiors are solidly built, but lack the wry detailing of Volkswagens and the urban chic of Audis. Despite protest from Skoda engineers to the contrary, the feel is 100% German. It really is a toss-up between the 1.

8 liter turbocharged models and the TDI 110 versions as to which is the most impressive. Lately, however, Skoda’s privileged market position has come under threat by the release of the similarly priced but jauntier SEAT Leon. Best to go for late 1999 and on cars, especially the SLX models which swapped a sunroof for electronic climate control and a single CD player. Equipment lists are par for the course, with all models apart from the base LXi getting ABS. GLXi, SLXi and SLX TDi models were all fitted with EDL traction control systems, should the urge to emulate a Skoda works rally driver overcome you. Should you require a bit more power and a few more bells and whistles, 1.6 GLXi with the 101bhp engine? The estate version worth more.

In the words of one dealer, Octavia’s are bulletproof. Certainly, they’re every bit as well put together as VW Polo or Golf a fact confirmed by VW Group in-house surveys. Still, check for wear to loading floors on the estate models and make sure that servicing has been properly carried out. (Estimated prices, based on a 1998 Octavia LXi 1.6) The old joke about doubling the value of a used Skoda by filling it with fuel has long gone. These days you won’t halve a Skoda’s value, but you can knock great chunks off an Octavia’s residuals by selling it on with a dodgy alternator. Whilst not recommended, if you were to close your eyes whilst driving an Octavia you’d think you were in a Volkswagen. Golf, Bora maybe even a Pass at, and when you did crash, the Skoda offers similarly good protection. Behind the wheel, the Octavia offers a more solid and confidence inspiring drive than many of its rivals. The body shell feel stiff and the ride is fairly firm.

Refinement is good, although the smaller diesel engines can become intrusive when worked hard. The gearboxes are the usual VW Group fare, slick and easy to use. The best Octavia for keen drivers are the 1.8T models. With a 0-60 time of only 8.5 seconds, there’s plenty of opportunity to let a BMW Z3 2.0 get a good view of your boot badge as, conditions permitting, the Octavia runs to its 134mph maximum. Despite Skoda’s image rehabilitation the brand is still not a magnet for keen drivers. The TDi 90 is good enough for most, with a reasonably sedate acceleration figure but a far more salient 43mpg in urban conditions. On a run expect the high fifties.

All Octavia’s come with a three year/45,000 mile service and maintenance package in addition to a three year unlimited mileage warranty, so buy nearly new and this could all be yours. Trying to think of a more prudent used buy than the Skoda Octavia is hard work. Build quality is superb, and with new prices that competitive, the choice for used buyers is wide and represents good value. As word of Skoda’s excellence spreads, prices may well begin to firm. It’s only a matter of time before buyers realize that this is almost a Pass at for Polo money.

Road Test

Despite the huge fan club I never got on with the old Octavia. It always seemed to me to be a Pass at body on a Golf floor pan overhanging both ends far too much. Strange, because the Toledo is only half an inch shorter on the same wheelbase, but somehow contrives to look right to my eyes rather than wrong. So Spain always beat Czechoslovakia 2 to 1. No aesthetic problems with the new Octavia. Despite being two and a half inches longer than the old one, it carries its length off much better. It’s a handsome, individual looking car with a distinctive front grille, and an air of quality. We tried two versions, both diesels, first the 105PS 1.9 TDI PD, then the 140 PS 2.0 TDI 16v 6-speed.

The quality of the cabin impresses as much as the exterior. It’s solid, nicely put together using decent quality fabrics and plastics. Seat and steering wheel are adjustable in every plane apart from sideways. And there are plenty of cubbies and grippy holes to put things. Instead of being merely amiable, the 105 can lift its skirts and is a quick cruiser. There’s still plenty to come at 80 – 90 and no problem hitting 120. I’m emphasizing this here so you won’t think the 105 involves any significant sacrifice for much less money than the 140. It’s easily as quick as most people are ever likely to want it to be. Like the Golf V TDI 105 PD, fifth gear gives you about 30mph per 1,000 rpm.

It not only reaches the speeds, it also handles them with excellent road feel and stability in fast cornering. This counters a slight criticism that the ride is on the firm side of soft. It doesn’t crash and bang over pot-holes and ripples, but it doesn’t completely absorb them either. And a downer of the 1.9 TDI is that so far it remains Euro III, so is subject to an 18% rather than 15% BIK tax base for company car drivers. So, on to its more powerful big brother, the TDI PD 140 16v 6-speed. I had the same problem with this as I did with the SEAT Althea. At low speeds on tight roads in second gear it feels almost too powerful.

You get no power then too much of it all once, like a catapult. Obviously an owner would get used to this and adapt to it. But on first acquaintance it really wasn’t very pleasant. Where the car comes into its own is that, like the Golf V TDI PD 140, it’s a stunning main road high-speed cruiser. Top gear gives about 33.5mph per 1,000 rpm, so at 100 the engine is only turning a happy and quiet 3,000 rpm. This means it’s very relaxed, yet at the same time, between 85 and 95 you feel you’re bang on optimum power, and if that isn’t enough for you, you can block-change from 6th to 4th and whack past anything as if it isn’t there. So it’s a very safe over taker too. Which to choose between the 105 and the 140 depends on how much you have to spend and what sort of discount you can get.

There is obviously a lot more to the Octavia range than these two diesels. The launch range includes a 75bhp 1.4 16v at a low £10,750. There will be automatic TDI PD 105s, a TDI PD 140 DSG and 1.6 and 2.0 liter FSIs with 5-speed manual, 6-speed manual, 5-speed Tiptronic or 6-speed DSG transmissions. The fire breathing petrol turbo will not come until next year, probably with 190 – 225 bhp. I have to mention a few minor faults on these early production cars and, of course, the benefit of road-testing by outsiders such as the gentlemen of the press means that these can be spotted, noted and put right before cars get through to customers. The rain-sensitive wipers are so sensitive they react to the blood of a splattered fly. The individual front climate controls did not work properly on one of the cars, giving the driver nice cool air while roasting the passenger.

It could be overcome with the fan on full, but definitely needed attention. The nearside rear door seal of the 140 developed a whistle while crossing the North Yorkshire Moors. And the sprung grab-handles can trap the ends of small fingers in their hinges when you pull them down. Should you go for one? Well obviously if a larger body, much bigger boot and lower price have more appeal to you than the status to be derived from buying Golf, then definitely. While the boot size, handling and general performance also make the new Octavia worth considering against cars the next size up, like the Mondeo, Vectra, Primera and Laguna. More importantly, Skoda has finally thrown off the old mantle of joke cars. The new Octavia is a proper, well-built car, in the same class as Golf. It’s a car to be proud of, if that wasn’t already Toyota’s line. In many respects Skoda is as much a value-champion as any of the Pacific Rim manufacturers, with the advantage of its sharing what Volkswagen is pleased to call ‘democratized quality’. And frankly there is little to distinguish a Skoda from a VW from a SEAT – only Audi manages to remain aloof, despite the obvious platform and power train sharing.

Even the interior of the Octavia – fascia, trim and textures – is as functionally discrete as that of the Golf, which it closely resembles. In fact, it could be argued that the Octavia’s cabin best illustrates the extent of Volkswagen’s influence in shaping Skoda’s image. The neat, rectilinear, centre stack is hallmark VeeDub, as is the soft-touch fascia material, the firm but comfortable seats, and the widespread use of grey trim that gradates vertically from dark to light in order to make the cabin seem lighter and (even) more spacious.

The build quality, too, is indistinguishable from that of its German and Spanish cousins. Narrow shut lines, a superior ‘clunk’ to the doors, low noise levels, no annoying squeaks, millimeter-perfect panel and trim alignments – these factors and others give a clear indication that production and quality control procedures at Mlada Boleslaw are no less stringent than at Wolfsburg or Ingoldstatt. The only factor that diminishes the Skoda – that stops its passing itself off as a French or German car - is the company’s adherence to the overstated chromium-plated grille – it’s old-fashioned and very Daewoo (RIP). But from the driving point of view, few Skoda owners would consider themselves short-changed; especially since the 4×4 Estate appears to be as dynamically adroit as the Golf 4Motion.

Ride quality is not compromised by the Estate platform and cornering and road holding seems every bit as good as the donor car. It may be a Bonsai, blue-cross all roads Quattro but the Skoda Estate 4×4 is by no means a cheap impersonation. Indeed, Skoda makes no direct mention of its value pricing but rather claims that the Octavia range delivers ‘an extra bit of car for the money’. Does that ring any bells? Ford has sold a lot of cars on the same ticket and I see no reason why Skoda should not do the same.

Technical Specifications

Engine 1.9 TDI/66kW/90 bhp, 4-cylinder, in-line diesel
engine, turbocharger, intercooler, water-cooled, OHC, transverse
mounted, direct injection, two-way catalytic converter
Compression ratio 19.5:1
Cubic Capacity 1,896
Max. Power (kW [bhp] /rpm) 66 [90] 4,000
Max. Torque/rev (Nm/rev/min) 210/1,900
Max. Speed (km/h) 182
Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s) 13.0
Emission BS III compliant
Transmission Manual 5 speed fully synchronized
Transmission Type Front wheel drive
Suspension - Front McPherson strut with wishbone arms and torsion stabilizer
Suspension-Rear Compound link crank axle with torsion stabilizer
Brake - Front Disc brakes, with hollow brake wheels & single piston
floating caliper
Brake - Rear Drum Brakes
Steering System Direct rack and pinion steering, power assisted
Wheels 6J X 15"
Tyres 195/65 R15
Body Type 5 door, 5 seater, double space steel bodywork, fully
zinc-coated
Airdrag coefficient (Cw) 0.30
Storage Capacity of Boot (ltr) 528
Fuel Tank (ltr) 55
Fuel Diesel

Standard Equipment Available in SkodaOctavia
Rider

Safety
Driver Airbag with front seatbelt pre-tensioners
Front Seatbelt Pretensioners
Height - adjustable driver and passenger seat
Height and angle adjustable front and rear headrests
immobilisers
Fog lamps Integrated in headlamps

Function
Tilt and Rake Adjustable Steering Wheel
Power Steering
Split rear seat 1/3: 2/3
Lashing eyelets in luggage compartment
Bad road package
12 V outlets in luggage compartment

Comfort
Electronic front and rear windows
Central locking with remote control and folding key
Multi-function Indicator
Air-conditioning (manual control)

Design
Outside mirrors and door handles in body colour
Bumpers in body colour with black protective strips
Interior in fabric upholstery
Chrome plated door knobs
Headlights height - adjustable
Clear Optic Headlamps
High mounted brake light, rear fog lamp

Standard Equipment Available in SkodaOctavia
Elegance

Safety
Driver Airbag with front seatbelt pre-tensioners
Co-Driver Air bag
Front Seatbelt Pretensioners
Height and angle adjustable front and rear headrests
Two rear side seat headrests, height adjustable Immobiliser
Fog lamps Integrated in headlamps

Function
Tilt and Rake Adjustable Steering Wheel
Power Steering
Split rear seat 1/3: 2/3
Lashing eyelets in luggage compartment
Bad road package
12 V outlets in luggage compartment

Comfort
Electronic front and rear windows
Central locking with remote control and folding key
Multi-function Indicator
Climatronic electronically regulated air-conditioning

Design
Outside mirrors and door handles in body colour
Bumpers in body colour with black protective strips
Interior in Panama Partial Leather Upholstery
Chrome plated door knobs
Small leather package: steering wheel, gear level handle and
gaiter hand brake handle
15" Triton Light Alloy Wheels


This post first appeared on Sentastic Senoj, please read the originial post: here

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