Ever since the first ever Skoda Octavia was launched in India way back in 2002, it garnered a cult following among the Indian car enthusiasts. It was a true driver's car with good cabin space and loads of practicality to boot. Globally, Skoda has sold over 5 million units of the Octavia. India got the current 3rd generation model in 2013 and it is now in the middle of its lifecycle. So it was time for the customary facelift and a bunch of new features to come our way.
So what's new? Quite a bit, actually! But we will begin with the exterior. The face is completely re-done with a new split-headlamp cluster that Skoda likes to call QuadraLED headlights. And that's because the split is into four compartments. The low and high-beam have been separated. You also get LED daytime running lights and fog lamps on the bumper, which is all-new as well. For that premium feel, there is a chrome strip running across the bumper too. The grille on the 2017 Octavia is now done in a glossy black finish while the hood has a few new creases which weren't there earlier. The front fenders get new lines too, and are more sculpted now, making the car look a tad more muscular. At the rear, the tail lamps are LED units as well and the rear bumper is also revised.
The 2017 Octavia facelift also gets ParkPilot. Activate the system and the car will manoeuvre itself into or out of a parking spot. But do keep in mind that it is you, who has to apply the brakes as and when necessary. There are proximity sensors all over and there is a reverse parking camera as well, which makes life easier.
Step inside the cabin and there are changes for the better. The most noticeable one is the brand-new 9-inch infotainment touchscreen, with capacitive touch. The interface is smooth and the resolution (800x480) is better than the previous Octavia's. It is smartphone friendly and you can choose from Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink to pair your smartphone with it. Skoda has also introduced an app of its own, which is the 'Boss Connect'. In case you are someone who likes to be driven around, you can simply download the app and control the infotainment system from the rear seat.
That's not all, Skoda is now offering ambient lighting with 10 colours. You can also increase/decrease the brightness of the lamps in the footwell and on the doors. Some other creature comforts include a panoramic sunroof and there are two USB ports for rear passengers right below the rear AC vent. The new Octavia feels plusher from the inside, thanks to the soft-touch plastics and the beige-black two-tone colour scheme. The cabin retains its roominess and is a comfortable place to be in.
No mechanical changes, though the car's rear track has increased by 20 mm on the 2.0-litre TDI and by 30 mm on the 1.8-litre TSI variant. The reason for this is the TDI uses a tweaked compound crank axle while the TSI gets a new multi-link axle. The increased track provides better handling according to the company.
The engines remain unchanged. Skoda is continuing with the three engines that have been available on the Octy - the 1.8-litre TSI and the 2.0-litre TDI. We drove the diesel variant and are pleased to report that the engine remains the powerhouse it was. There is that familiar diesel clatter when you start the car but the motor remains as punchy and torquey as ever. The 6-speed DSG always was a lovely gearbox and still is. The power and torque output remain the same at 140.8 bhp and 320 Nm. The claimed mileage is 19.3 kmpl.
As far as safety is concerned, the top trim of the Octavia gets 8 airbags while the base trim gets 4 airbags, which are the dual airbags upfront and at the sides. ABS, EBD and traction control are standard.
So the Skoda Octavia still remains a good value proposition in its segment - even though the segment itself may not be too hot these days. The new features and design elements are a step-up and add to the overall desirability quotient of the car. Prices will also be tweaked though the variant stack up should remain the same too. The car launches in mid-July which is when Skoda India will announce prices too.