2021 Skoda Octavia Test Drive Review
We do a detailed road test review of the 2021 Skoda Octavia.
Car Tested: 2021 Skoda Octavia 2.0 L&K; Road Test No. 1316; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs 31.14 – 34.68 lakhs
Exceptional comfort, class-leading performance and a well-equipped cabin make the Skoda Octavia the best D-Segment sedan
Skoda has just completed 20 years in the Indian market and the car that kickstarted the Czech automaker’s journey here was the first generation Octavia which was quite popular back then and even today we see quite a lot of them on our roads. 20 years down the line, times have changed and cars have become a lot more modern and less raw. What we have today is the 4th generation Octavia that was revealed globally not too long back and it has now found its way on our shores.
MotorQuest – This is the first time that the Skoda Octavia is being launched with only a single engine option in India. All the previous three generations have seen multiple engines, including petrol and diesel. This is also the first Octavia to be launched with only an automatic variant, at least for now.
Exteriors – The 2021 Skoda Octavia has grown bigger but draws polarising opinions on the design. The front looks a bit odd from some angles but the Octy does have an exquisite aura around itself. The fascia is flanked by bi-LED headlamps and sharp-looking LED fog lamps while on the side you see some inspiration from other Volkswagen-group models. The profile looks clean in the usual Skoda manner but again those 17-inch Pulsar alloys on the L&K variant draw mixed judgment from people.
Not only has the Octavia grown in size, but its design has also become sleeker and sharper
At the rear, there is again some design inspiration from some other cars but overall the styling is neat and sharp. The LED taillights look crisp and you get Škoda lettering on the boot lid. And talking about the boot lid, the new Octavia too has a notchback opening just like every previous iteration of this vehicle. The 2021 Skoda Octavia is being offered in Style and L&K variants and the former gets Candy White, Lava Blue and Magic Black colours while the latter also gets Brilliant Silver and Maple Brown in addition to these.
Interiors – The cabin sees a massive change both in terms of quality and even the layout. The design of the dashboard doesn’t look as minimalistic and clutter-free as before and in fact, it looks very busy and might I say quirky. However, what you instantly notice when you step inside the cabin is improved quality all around. Skoda has made good use of soft-touch materials and there’s a general sense of premium-ness in the cabin.
Skoda has greatly enhanced the quality of the materials used, as well as the fit and finish of the overall cabin
The 2021 Skoda Octavia comes equipped with a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Canton speakers. It gets 11-speakers and a sub-woofer with the combined output being 600W and the sound quality is excellent even at high volumes. The speakers have a nice punch and the vocals are crystal clear. The touchscreen gets a matte finish and while the screen itself is smooth to operate, there are far too many functions and you really need to sit for a while and get accustomed to all the menus and locate stuff. The Octavia gets USB Type-C ports both at the front and rear and there are no regular USB ports in the car. You also get a wireless charging feature in the car. The cabin roof lights are touch-based and they’re bright enough too but a sunroof is really conspicuous by its absence.
Skoda has plonked in an all-digital instrument cluster similar to Audi’s Virtual Cockpit and must I say, the display is very crisp and easy to read. You can navigate through various menus and lists using the knobs and buttons on the steering wheel. The steering wheel is a 2-spoke unit and feels great to hold. It also has a mixture of black and silver buttons and overall everything feels quite sturdy. The vehicle also gets dual-zone climate control and while the AC works fine enough, it does take some time to cool the cabin when the car is extremely hot. The Octavia gets ambient lighting with a multitude of colours to choose from and it is also done very tastefully. The vehicle also gets a new key now which is finished in piano black.
The back seats are incredibly comfy, and the driver’s seat has electric adjustments with memory functions as well
Along with electric adjustment, the front seats also gets memory functions and I loved the support offered. The front seats are very well-shaped and they’re extremely comfortable for long drives. The interior gets a dual-tone black/beige layout and the seats are finished in beige so they might have a tendency to get dirty. The rear seat is comfortable too and the legroom is decent while also being slightly better than before. There are three adjustable headrests but the middle passenger won’t have a lot of room to move around and stretch. The upholstery is very nicely done and feels rich. You get dual seatback pockets for the rear passengers and there are a couple of roof lights at the rear too. Two USB-C ports are also located below the rear AC vents.
All the doors of the Skoda Octavia come with large bottle holders but the front doors have some more space to keep other belongings. The rear doors also allow you to store your nitty-gritties but storage space is smaller than the front doors. Apart from this, you get cubby holes in the centre console. In typical Skoda fashion, the boot opens up wide and it has a cargo capacity of 600-litres which goes up to a cavernous 1555-litres with the rear seats folded down.
Performance – The 2021 Skoda Octavia is being offered with only a petrol engine. This is the familiar 2.0 TSI engine that we have previously sampled on the Superb facelift and the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace. This powerplant delivers 190 PS and 320 Nm, which is 10 PS and 70 Nm up from the 1.8 TSI on the older Octavia. The 1.8 TSI was a gem of an engine and the new unit takes things a notch up. What has also changed is the transmission because while the previous Octy got a dry-clutch DQ200 7-speed DSG, the new one here gets a wet-clutch DQ381 unit with shift-by-wire technology.
The Octavia is only offered with a single turbocharged petrol engine paired to a 7-speed DSG transmission
The engine is punchy from the word GO and the car just leaps ahead when you step on the throttle. Low-end response is pretty decent and there’s a mild lag before the mid-range kicks in and you can exploit the TSI’s performance in its full glory. The Octavia accelerates pretty well and most of the fun lies in the mid-range and top-end of the RPM band. The engine is also very refined and barely any vibrations make their way inside the cabin. The engine starts redlining at around 6000 RPM and it is safe to say that the TSI mill won’t disappoint even a bit be it in terms of city driveability or highway speeds.
The 7-speed gearbox also has been matched nicely to the engine. This Octavia doesn’t get a manual gearbox but we cannot rule out the possibility of Skoda launching a lower-priced version of the sedan with the 1.5 TSI engine with either an MT or AT. The new Octavia doesn’t get any drive modes and you only get an S mode on the gearbox which holds revs in each gear but doesn’t do anything to the suspension or steering.
Driving Dynamics – The new Skoda Octavia feels very different to drive compared to the older one. The Czech automaker has gone soft with the suspension setup and the ride is now a lot more comfortable and the car also absorbs potholes and undulations with much ease. It remains very planted at high speeds and doesn’t move around unnecessarily. While the ride is more snug now, the suspension has a slightly firm edge to it but not as firm as the outgoing model’s. There is some additional body roll that can be felt while taking corners and I’d say that the driving manners feel less Octaviaish and more Superbish which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The steering, though precise, could have been more communicative and some feedback would have been like a cherry on the cake. The Octavia gets disc brakes all around and stopping power is good.
Safety & After-Sales Service – Skoda’s after-sales hasn’t always been the best in India but in the last few years, customer complaints seem to have come down and the company has also worked on their service and policies which is why these days the experience is a lot better. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with some existing Skoda owners in your city and get a first-hand understanding of their experiences. The 2021 Skoda Octavia is loaded to the brim with safety features like eight airbags, ABS, ESC, Multi Collision Brake, Hill Hold Control, Hydraulic Brake Assist, ASR, Electronic Differential Lock and TPMS. Except for TPMS which is offered only on L&K, all the other safety features are offered on both variants.
Verdict – The Skoda Octavia has not only grown bigger but has also become more comfortable and more tech-laden. The sedan also gets a bigger engine now with a significantly higher amount of torque and boasts of better quality inside-out too. Yes, the vehicle may not be as sharp a handler as the previous one and yes the price is on the higher side but it still offers a lot for the money and doesn’t really have any real competition apart from some of the entry-level offerings from the big Germans.
What’s Not So Cool
Alternatives – Hyundai Elantra, BMW 2-Series, Mercedes A-Class
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