Skoda first launched the Octavia sedan in India back in November 2001, at an ex-showroom price tag of Rs 10.60 lakh. With its impeccable build quality and enjoyable driving dynamics, the car was a hit with Indian consumers, despite its somewhat limited legroom at the back and the relatively small dealer network that Skoda had in India at that time.

The Octavia has been a bestseller for Skoda in India, though for a few years, it had been renamed ‘Laura’ for the Indian market. It’s also a bit of a testament to the fact that the Indian car market can be very unpredictable; while the Octavia has been a success story for Skoda, its close cousin – the Volkswagen Jetta – never really took off and was ultimately taken off the market a few years ago.

Skoda is now looking to build on its success and has launched the all-new Octavia in India, with an ex-showroom price of Rs 25.99 lakh. It  is the completely redesigned fourth-generation Octavia, which according to Skoda, ‘pushes the yardstick further’ with its styling, interiors, safety levels and connectivity. The new car is slightly bigger than its predecessor and is available in ‘Style’ and the higher-spec ‘Laurin & Klement’ variants, with the latter priced at Rs 28.99 lakh, ex-showroom.

Notable bits in the new Octavia’s cabin include suede-leather upholstery, a multi-level dashboard with integrated 25.4cm infotainment system, all-digital instrumentation, a two-spoke multifunction steering wheel with paddle shifters and subtle chrome highlights. There is, of course, full smartphone connectivity, and the L&K variant also gets a high-end, 600-watt, 12-speaker Canton sound system. There’s also a powerful two-zone ‘Climatronic’ air conditioning system, and the rear hatch is power-operated.

Only one engine option is available for the new Octavia, a turbocharged 2.0-litre inline-four that produces 190 horsepower and 320Nm of torque. Power goes to the front wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic, an advanced unit featuring shift-by-wire technology. In addition, the Octavia boasts an ARAI-certified 15.80kpl in terms of fuel efficiency, which helps in these days of skyrocketing fuel prices.

Skoda has paid particular attention to safety with the new car being equipped with a long list of safety features, including ABS with electronic brake-force distribution, electronic stability control, eight airbags, an adaptive front lighting system, a tyre pressure monitoring system and even a fatigue detection system that provides audio alerts to the driver if required. In addition, Octavia buyers are entitled to roadside assistance and SOS alerts during an emergency through the MySkoda Connect smart app.

 Indian car buyers across all segments have a marked preference for SUVs these days, which has led to the demise of Octavia’s former competitors like the Toyota Corolla, the Honda Civic and even the VW Jetta. But the Octavia, on the strengths of its design, performance and sheer driving dynamics, continues to be a strong performer for Skoda in India. With the new model, we’re sure the success story will continue well into the future.