The one car Skoda has been known for in India for, is undoubtedly the Octavia. Skoda and Volkswagen Group itself entered the country with this car and immediately brought prosperity to the company, thanks to it’s tough build quality and frugal diesel engine. In 2013, the company launched the second generation (in India) Octavia and gave it a tiny update last year. Four years after it’s launch though, Skoda India has given it’s worldwide bestselling sedan a thorough facelift. We drove the 2017 Skoda Octavia in and around Chandigarh and Mohali, to bring you the review of a car that is close to our hearts.
The Skoda Octavia facelift was launched globally in October last year. So most of us were already familiar with the new design bits on the 2017 Skoda Octavia facelift. The most prominent design change on the car is on the front. The car comes with a reworked front grille and what Skoda likes to call QuadraLED headlights. The front grille gets a new gloss black finish that looks similar to that of the bigger Superb. The bumper also gets a slight redesign with the lower air dam getting a slim chrome strip that runs across it’s ends. Coming back to the most noticeable change on the entire car, the headlights.
The QuadraLED headlights get a 4-pod design that resembles that of the previous generation Mercedes-Benz E-Class (pre-facelift). No other car in this segment has experimented with such a design and it definitely looks more unique. The CrystalGlo LED day time running lights again look very intricately detailed. The adaptive lighting system has been carried over from the older car and detects changes in driving situations like load, steering angle, rain and speed. Some of the other changes on the 2017 Skoda Octavia are the all new bonnet that gets new chiselled lines.
The sides mostly remain unchanged except for the new design alloy wheels. The size though, remains the same at 16 inches. There is a chrome strip that runs along the window line that sharply rises to the rear. Although it has been carried over from the old car, it still tends to make the car look upmarket. Come to the rear, and you find a new redesigned taillight and a new bumper as well. There is a panoramic sunroof too, that gets a bounce-back feature. Overall, the new design to most people will be limited to the new headlights. But there are a lot more changes that can be spotted if you look closer. As they all say, the Devil lies in the Detailing.
You won’t feel awkward or even surprised when you step inside the cabin of the 2017 Skoda Octavia. This is because the design of the dashboard is largely the same, as is the console for the infotainment system. But what Skoda has done, is stepped up the cabin quality by a couple of decks. The dashboard continues with the dual tone black and beige theme, but the plastics are now soft to the touch. It’s when you touch the dashboard that you realise where all the money and effort has gone into. The dashboard feels supremely upmarket to the touch, while build quality is easily top of the class. The multi function steering wheel has been carried over, while the instrument cluster gets a new multi-info display that now gives out GPS directions as well as info on the new Tyre pressure monitoring system.
The other new bit on the insides is the brand new 8-inch infotainment system. This one comes with an all glass layout with a capacitive touch screen for the display, as well as the surrounding physical buttons. The system comes with the SmartLink suite that supports Apple Car Play, Android Auto and MirrorLink. As before, the display also gets a proximity sensor that awakens the page functions when you move your hand over it and a inbuilt satellite navigation system. But the new feature that according to Skoda is the most useful feature, is the ability to pair with Skoda apps. The new Skoda Media Command app or as the company likes to call it- Boss Connect, allows you to connect your phone to the infotainment system wirelessly through a mobile hotspot. By doing this you gain full control of the infotainment system. This is a rather useful feature for owners who will be spending most of their time in the rear seats but want full control of the infotainment system. For example, the owner can set a destination on the infotainment system via the app for the chauffeur to follow. Neat indeed!
Seat comfort on the new 2017 Skoda Octavia is again excellent. Both the front and rear seats offer good back and thigh support. The driver’s seat gets full electric controls, while the front passenger seat gets manual controls that also includes one for adjusting the height. The rear seat on the contrary, gets features like rear AC vents and 2 usb charging ports for your mobile phone. Some clever touches on the insides include the trash bins that are neatly tucked in to the door pockets. The dual zone climate control system also plays a significant role in keeping you cozy in this cabin. Also new to the 2017 Skoda Octavia is the interior ambient lighting with 10 different colours to choose from. The intensity of the LEDs can also be adjusted for the doors and footwells individually. There’s a manually folding rear sun blind that keeps the sun’s rays at bay. A feature that we did miss though, was the ventilated front seats (thanks to the Chandigarh heat), which it’s competition offers. Overall, this cabin feels plush, upmarket and easily best in class even though it missed out on a couple of features.
Mechanically, the 2017 Skoda Octavia remains unchanged. There are 3 engine and 3 transmission options available. The 1.4 TSI petrol comes mated to a 6-speed manual while the 1.8 TSI comes mated to the fantastic 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox. The 2.0-litre diesel is the only one to be offered with a 6-speed DSG automatic gearbox along with a 6-speed manual. The 1.4 TSI produces 150 HP/250 Nm, while the 1.8-TSI develops 180 HP/250 Nm. The diesel on the other hand develops 143 HP and a massive 320 Nm. We drove the 1.8 TSI and the 2.0-litre diesel mated with the respective Automatic gearboxes.
The 1.8 TSI has been one of our favorite turbo-petrol motors and that remains unchanged even with this facelift. The engine feels extremely responsive especially in Sport mode and revs so freely. This gem of a motor will rev to over 6500 RPM and sounds sporty while doing so. This stonker of an engine will easily be our choice, but only if fuel efficiency does not matter much to you. Drive it hard and this motor will drink gasoline at an unbelievable rate! No such issues with the diesel though. The diesel engine is all about the massive torque output. In gear acceleration is strong and the engine revs right up to 4900 RPM, which is fun every now and then. What’s not fun is the NVH levels! There’s a constant reminder that there’s a diesel engine under the hood that’s clatters and groans on the move.
The 2017 Skoda Octavia has always been a fun-to-drive car and that has further improved with this update. The rear track has been increased by 20mm on the diesel and 30mm on the petrol. This gives the car more stability at high speeds. Skoda has also tweaked the suspension that feels better than before at absorbing sharper bumps. Steering offers good feedback and weighs up perfectly as the speed increases. The brakes on the other hand come with an all disc setup and feel sharp and responsive. All variants also get an electronic differential lock on the front axle that helps in the handling department.
Safety features on the 2017 Skoda Octavia include 8 airbags, ABS, EBD, ESP, ASR, Tyre pressure monitoring system, rear view camera, cornering fog lamps, Park Distance Control with hands-free parking and iBuzz fatigue alert system. We got a demo of the handsfree parking system and it tends to work fluidly. There is a button on the central floor console that enables all the 12 sensors around the car, which helps it detect a parking space; parallel or perpendicular. It then alerts the driver of an available space. By following the instructions on the display, the driver needs to change the gear modes between Reverse and Drive, and the car will steer itself automatically into the space. One thing to be noted here is that during this process, the car won’t brake itself automatically when it detects an obstacle like most other auto parking systems; the driver needs to brake manually otherwise you might scrap some of that precious paint off the bumper. The iBuzz fatigue detection system detects drowsy steering inputs from the driver and tells them to take a break via an sign alert on the instrument cluster and loud beeps.
The Skoda Octavia was already the best in class entry luxury sedan ever since it was launched in 2013. This 2017 version strengthens it’s case of being the same. Though the 2017 Skoda Octavia misses out on features like ventilated seats, it gains features like auto-parking that is found on cars from a segment above it. The quality on the insides is unquestionable and this is the defacto choice if cabin comfort and plushness are your main concerns. But for enthusiasts like us, the car is pretty fun to drive as well, thanks to strong engines and the quick shifting dual clutch gearboxes. The introduction of GST next month means that the 2017 Skoda Octavia could mean even more value considering the proposed lower taxes on luxury sedans and SUVs. This is surely going to be a tempting buy and something that we are looking forward to when it launches next month.
Pics by Ritesh Madhok