Skoda relaunches 'Octavia' nameplate in India

The first-generation Octavia was a surprise hit for Skoda, an hitherto unheard brand in India. Coming in at a time when premium cars from new brands failed to make an impact in the conservative Indian mindset, the Octavia broke the notions associated with our market. Playing the cards of good value for money and excellent fuel-efficiency, two virtues that Indians crave for, the Octavia hit the sweet spot and firmly established Skoda as a luxury brand in India. The Octavia was such a big hit that Skoda continued to sell the car alongside the second-generation model that was unimaginatively named as Laura.

With the launch of the third-generation model today, the Octavia nameplate is making a comeback in India after an absence of three odd years. Skoda is betting big on this model, which is evident from the fact that the new Octavia is available in three trim levels (Active, Ambition and Elegance) with a mix of three engine and three transmission options.

The Active and Ambition variants are powered by the 1.4-liter TSI engine that produces 140 PS of maximum power and 250 Nm of peak torque. The top-end petrol variant Elegance is more powerful with 180 PS of maximum power, thanks to the 1.8-liter TSI engine that's mated to a 7-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. The diesel variants are powered by the familiar 2.0-liter TDI engine that belts out 143 PS of power and 320 Nm of torque. While the base Active variant comes only with a manual transmission and the top-end Elegance variant comes only with a 6-speed DSG automatic transmission, the Ambition variant comes with a choice of either of these transmissions.

Prices for the petrol variants are INR 13.95 Lakhs (Active), 14.95 Lakhs (Ambition) and 18.25 Lakhs (Elegance). The diesel variants retail for INR 15.55 Lakhs (Active), 16.55 Lakhs (Ambition), 17.55 Lakhs (Ambition AT) and 19.45 Lakhs (Elegance). All prices are ex-showroom Delhi. At these prices, the Skoda Octavia is no longer the segment benchmark for value for money as it once used to be. In fact, the new Octavia is more expensive than the Volkswagen Jetta, which is surprising given the fact that Volkswagen is positioned as a premium brand in India.

To justify its pricing, Skoda has kitted the Octavia decently. Antilock Braking System (ABS), dual airbags, 16-inch alloy wheels, power mirrors, power windows, traction control, driver's seat height adjust, steering adjust, remote locking and rear air-conditioner vents are standard across the range. The flagship Elegance variant is fully loaded and boasts bi-xenon headlamps, six airbags, stability control, panoramic sunroof, cruise control, an electronic differential lock for the front axle, a touchscreen audio system with steering-mounted controls, dual zone climate control, stability control, multi-collision braking system that automatically stops the car if the driver's foot is off the brake pedal after a crash and automatic headlamps and wipers amongst other features.

Based on Volkswagen group's popular 'MQB' platform that spans a host of models in as much as four brands, the new Octavia boasts solid underpinnings.

It was the Octavia's reach that established Skoda as a luxury brand in India, quite contrary to it's budget image in rest of the world. With the launch of the all-new Octavia, Skoda is trying to capitalize on the image and legacy of the old model. Will the Octavia do what the Jetta couldn't and dethrone Hyundai Elantra from the top? Let the game begin.

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