I believe I have found a bizarre similarity between the all-new Skoda Octavia and the now-defunct Volkswagen Beetle - timelessness. Both these cars started with an evergreen design already. But with every passing generation, that design has managed to keep its pace. Although the Beetle succumbed to the SUV craze, we have high hopes for this all-new 2020 Skoda Octavia to brave that storm.
The Octavia, now in its fourth-generation, is Skoda’s latest proposition in the sedan segment. While its previous iterations may have been best-sellers for the brand, the new model also looks to maintain its course of keeping the sales department busy. The 2020 iteration comes with a new look, a brand new cabin along with some added Octavia-firsts.
But will these be enough to let this three-box sedan design retain the best-seller tag while amidst the likes of the Kamiq and the Kodiaq?
A new look for the face and the bottom
Just like the Beetle, Skoda has worked on evolving the design theme rather than revolutionizing it. The bonnet now seems to droop forward a little while the front grille gets reduced to a more compact derivative. Even the headlights are now slimmer and sleeker with the addition of full Matrix LEDs for the operational duty. For me, I preferred the front-end look of the previous car, just had that touch of elegance with it.
Skoda loses the traditional C-shaped tail lights to a half-cut alphabet one, giving a whole new look new to the rear. This allowed Skoda to play with the boot design while having more contours, resembling the rear designs seen on Japanese carmaker Lexus’, which is a good thing.
Bigger yet the same, almost
While the new car has grown 19mm longer and 15mm wider in size, it still didn’t gain an inch in wheelbase. Although where it did gain is boot space, but the increment is tiny. Minute. Trivial. Negligible. 600 litres in total, up by just 10 litres.
Sit inside, and you’re in a totally new Czech car
It’s all praises for Skoda to go with an entirely new cabin for this fourth-gen model. While the older cabin could pass as exactly similar to the other cars in Skoda’s lineup, the new model, fortunately, doesn’t. It simply borrows specific design cues, like the dashboard layout from the Kamiq and makes it look significantly premium and upmarket.
The AC vents look stunning and now forms the design jewel of the centre console. Similar to the Kamiq, the Octavia also gets its infotainment unit, a new-gen 10-inch MIB3 system, standing upright. Where it differs from its stablemates is the multi-level dashboard, a first in a Skoda. Right below the AC vents is a panel of one-touch buttons for several essential vehicle functions such as Driving Mode Select or Park Assist.
The seats are new. The door trims have been upgraded. The upholstery is now soft-touch only. Chrome adorns the door trim along with a big fat layer running the width of the dashboard. Also featuring within that dashboard is ambient lighting of up to 10 colours. And even more surprisingly, this will be the first model in Skoda’s entire lineup to feature Heads Up Display!
Two-Spoke steering is now standard
Another first in the history of Skoda is this new two-spoke steering wheel. While you lose a spoke and Skoda describes it as convenient, it comes with knurled scroll wheels, and you do get an option to get it heated. As it didn’t appeal as much to me, I would get myself the optional three-spoke multifunction sports wheel.
(Multiple) Engines at the ready!
Too many can be a way to describe the engine lineup for the new Skoda Octavia. Various permutations and combinations are offered with the inclusion of mild-hybrids and for the first time in an Octavia, a plug-in hybrid.
The mild-hybrid option can be had with two petrol engines - a 110hp 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit or a 150hp 1.5-litre four-cylinder mill. There’s a third turbo-petrol unit as well, but this one omits the use of added electricity. Constituting the cream of the lineup is a 2.0-litre TSI non-hybrid motor putting out 190hp and accompanied by all-wheel-drive.
A 2.0-litre diesel is also on offer but in three states of power tune - 115hp, 150hp and 200hp. Similar to the petrol cousin, the most powerful 200hp variant will be coupled with an all-wheel-drive system.
Hybridization finally hits the Octavia. Combining a 1.4-litre engine with a 103hp electric motor, this plug-in hybrid iteration is capable of producing a total power output of 203hp while offering a 50km range on just electric juice. Coupled to a six-speed DSG gearbox, this engine can crack a ton in 7.9 seconds.
Out goes the lever, in comes the toggle
The traditional gear lever goes defunct with the latest model as this 2020 iteration comes with a toggle switch for the gearbox. Reason? Skoda has introduced the shift-by-wire mechanism for its 7-speed dual-clutch DSG gearbox in the new Octavia. Also, a first in Skoda’s entire stable to get so.
More computers to keep you safe
Just like most newly launched cars, even this sedan comes with connected car tech with a built-in eSIM. Wireless charging sees the light of the day in this Octavia along with the introduction of three-zone climate control.
A plethora of safety features adorns the Octavia, including driver assistance systems like the collision avoidance assist, exit warning (blind spot detection) and fatigue warning. A total of eight airbags, ABS with EBD, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, electronic stability control, traction control and the debut of an electromechanical parking brake comprises the safety equipment list.