We just can’t get enough of the new Skoda Octavia. We drove the 2.0-litre diesel in our eighth-anniversary issue. Then it slugged it out with the Hyundai Elantra last month and emerged as the new champion. This time around, we sample the 1.8-litre turbo-petrol, which in all honesty is the best engine to go for in the Octavia line-up.
First, the obvious bit. The Octavia leads the charge to kickstart the design renaissance in the Skoda line-up. The overall styling is crisp, but has Skoda’s unassuming looks. Not to say it doesn’t look striking, just that, like all Skoda cars, the design grows on you over time. Looking for something more exciting? Skoda is saving the flamboyant bits for the vRS version, which is sometime away.
You don’t have to wait for the vRS for exhilarating performance, though. If you are looking for a wolf in sheep’s clothing, look no further. This 1.8-litre turbo-petrol unit will just blow your socks off. The new Octy’s 1,798cc motor has been tuned to make peak power at 177bhp and 250Nm of torque that is channeled to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (DSG).
Sure, power is just one part of the story. How the Octavia stomps it on the ground is a completely different ballgame. And it plays this game very well. It manages to crack 100kph in 8.1sec, which is scintillating for an everyday executive sedan. What impresses you even more is the fact that it does it with such poise.
Like any modern dual-clutch transmission, you get three options to play with: Drive, Sport and Manual. In ‘D’, the engine feels sedated, with the ’box kicking into a higher gear and keeping the revs as low for better efficiency. The ‘S’, on the other hand, keeps things a lot more exciting. But if you really want to unlock the engine’s true potential, we recommend the manual mode.
Turbo lag is hardly noticed. Cross the 2,000rpm mark and things speed up quite nicely. There is a healthy dose of power all the way to 6,000rpm before you shift for another rush. On an open piece of tarmac, the Octavia managed 215kph before we ran out of road. Even at these speeds, wind noise is down to a minimum, with the only the sweet growl of the 1.8-litre unit audible. It’s not just straight-line speed where it feels at home. Going around corners, the car feels planted too – it takes corners with clinical precision, the chassis feels well balanced and the steering is neutral.
The Octavia 1.8 TSI is impressive on every front, including fuel economy. In the city, the 1.8 TSI managed to return 9.7kpl, while on the highway it ran 14km per litre. Add to it the fact that the 1.8 TSI retails at Rs 21.74 lakh (on-road Mumbai), which is Rs 2 lakh cheaper than the diesel variant, making the 1.8 TSI one of the most enjoyable cars to drive around in on Indian roads.
4cyl, 1,798cc, turbo-petrol, 177bhp, 250Nm, 7DSG, 0-100kph: 8.1sec, 30-50kph: 1.58sec, 50-70kph: 1.73, 80-0kph: 25.78m/2.32sec, city kpl: 9.7, highway kpl: 14, Rs 21.74 lakh (on-road, Mumbai)
The Octavia 1.8 TSI offers the best of everything – power with economy and luxury at a relatively sensible price.
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