On Thursday, Skoda Auto India launched the new Octavia at a starting price of Rs 15.49 lakh, ex-showroom. The Octavia has a long history in India—it was first launched in 2001 and went on to become the country’s best-selling executive sedan, before it was discontinued in 2010. Skoda, however, remained in that segment with another car called the Laura until 2013. In 2013, the Laura moved out and the Octavia brand was reintroduced.
Skoda has now improved it even further. While its engines remain the same—1.4-litre and 1.8-litre petrol, and 2.0-litre diesel—the car gets segment-unique features, such as hands-free parking, driver fatigue alert and eight airbags.
Hands-free parking: The Octavia has 12 proximity sensors all around, which allow it to perpendicular or parallel park itself. The feature is called ParkPilot. Activate the system and the car will manoeuvre itself into or out of a parking spot. However, the driver has to be inside the car and apply brakes when needed. A reverse parking camera projects the image on the central screen.
Boss Connect: It’s a feature for rear passengers, who can control the car’s audio and navigation via an app on their smartphone.
Multi-collision braking: In the event of an accident where the airbags get activated, this feature continues to apply brakes even if the driver loses control, preventing the car from crashing into further objects.
iBuzz fatigue alert: This clever assistant system evaluates data from power steering sensors to detect any driver fatigue behaviour. In case it does, a display on the information panel warns the driver to take a break.
The new Octavia is a much better car than its predecessor on almost every front. It competes with segment-leader Toyota Corolla Altis and Hyundai Elantra. However, the biggest challenge it faces is that the executive sedan segment itself is diminishing in India—primarily due to customer preference for SUVs—and the space for sedans such as the Octavia is reducing by the day.
(There are four petrol engine variants of the Octavia, priced between Rs 15.49 lakh and Rs 20.9 lakh. Diesel variants are priced between Rs 16.9 lakh and Rs 22.9 lakh.)