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Much-awaited comeback

OUSEPH CHACKO
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Skoda hopes to replicate the first-generation Octavia’s success with a capable new version

Skoda’s iconic Octavia’s comeback was one of the most-anticipated launches this year. With the new car reviving the name that kick-started the company’s fortunes in India, Skoda is looking to replicate the success of the first-generation car here. The manufacturer is offering quite a few variants here with prices starting at Rs. 13.95 lakh and going up to Rs. 19.46 lakh. While there are two petrol engines and one diesel engine on offer, the car comes with both automatic and manual gearbox options.

The base models of both the petrol and diesel versions are most likely to be the more popular sellers here. The 2.0-litre TDI motor with a six-speed manual gearbox will be priced lower than the DSG version and will be available only in the base Active and mid-level Ambition specs.

It is easy to stall, especially when starting off on slopes, so your only option is to slip the clutch and rev the engine to get going. There is some initial lag as well, up to around 1,800rpm (the DSG version masks this well), and a strong spike in acceleration as all 32.6kgm kicks while the engine picks up revs. There’s some gruffness when it’s revving and some diesel drone at idle as well.

But it is a very nice engine — there is enough torque off boost for you to potter around town in third gear all-day long, and it’s only when you need a quick burst of power that you snap down a gear on the quick, short-throw, six-speed manual. There’s more than enough performance on tap to keep you happy and you might even find the surge of power as it comes on boost exciting. Also, once you’ve gotten past the lag, you will find linear power delivery from an engine that willingly revs to 5,000rpm.

Skoda is also offering a 1.4-litre TSI (similar to the one in the VW Jetta) and it’s slated to be the most affordable one in the line-up. The 1.4-litre direct-injection, turbo-petrol motor makes 138bhp and 25.5kgm of torque, which is slightly more than the 120bhp a Jetta 1.4 TSI makes. This extra power makes a big difference to the way this petrol Octavia performs.

For starters, the idle seems a lot quieter than what we remember in the Jetta and, like the VW, there is some lag, especially below 2,000rpm, which did make it irritating to drive on hilly roads. Frequent gearshifts are the norm here. However, get past the lag and you will discover noticeably meatier performance (especially in the mid-range). It is quite a rev-happy engine and will spin eagerly to 6,500rpm, but then again, it isn’t as smooth or as quiet as the more sophisticated 1.8 TSI. The 1.4 TSI will be available only with a six-speed manual gearbox and that, with its light throws and positive clutch action, will encourage you to row through the gears and make the most of the engine if you are in the mood for it.

The 1.4 TSI comes with a torsion beam axle suspension set-up at the rear (similar to the diesel), but it does seem to be a softer set-up, and that means you don’t get as much bump at low speeds as you do in the diesel. The suspension seems a tad quieter as well. This, combined with the Octavia’s accomplished chassis, means it can be quite a lot of fun to drive.

The rest is the same — you get the same top-quality interiors, the fantastic rear seat, the spacious cabin and the massive boot. Speaking of which, we did notice that the high boot lid does make the Octavia a bit hard to reverse and it did make us wish that Skoda offered a reversing camera as standard.

Skoda is offering the 1.4 TSI from Rs. 13.95 lakh and the 2.0 TDI from Rs. 15.55 lakh, and at this price point, Indian buyers are likely to lap up this capable saloon.

OUSEPH CHACKO

Price from Rs. 13.95/Rs. 15.55 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)

L/W/H 4659mm/1814mm/

1476mm

Wheelbase 2688mm

Engine 4 cyls, 1395cc, direct-injection, turbo-petrol/4 cyls, 1968cc, turbo-diesel

Installation Front, transverse

Power 138bhp at 4500-6000rpm/141bhp at 4000rpm

Torque 25.49kgm at 1500-3500rpm/32.63kgm at 1750-3000rpm

Gearbox 6-speed manual

Suspension (f/r) Independent, MacPherson struts, stabiliser bar/non-independent, torsion beam

Tyre size 205/55 R16

Kerb weight 1260/1340kg

Fuel tank 50 litres

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