In addition to the 1.8 TSI and 2.0 TDI DSG Octavias we tested earlier, Skoda is also offering a 1.4-litre TSI (similar to the one in the VW Jetta) and the 2.0 TDI with a manual gearbox. These two will no doubt be the popular ones in the line-up, especially as they will be priced lower. We drove both from Chandigarh to Shimla.
The 1.4-litre direct-injection, turbo-petrol motor makes 138bhp and 25.5kgm of torque, which is a sight more than the 120bhp a Jetta 1.4 TSI
makes. This extra power makes a big difference to the way the Octavia performs.
For starters, the idle seems a lot quieter than what we remember in the Jetta and, like the VW, there is some lag, especially below 2,000rpm, which did make it irritating to drive on the hilly roads around Shimla. Frequent gearshifts are the norm here. However, get past the lag and you will discover noticeably meatier performance (especially in the mid-range) than what you get in the Jetta. It is quite a rev-happy engine and will spin eagerly to 6,500rpm, but then again it isn’t as smooth or as quiet as the more sophisticated 1.8 TSI. The 1.4 TSI will be available only with a six-speed manual gearbox and that, with its light throws and positive clutch action, will encourage you to row through the gears and make the most of the engine if you are in the mood for it.
The 1.4 TSI comes with a torsion beam axle suspension setup at the rear (similar to the diesel), but it does seem to be a softer setup, and that means you don’t get as much bump at low speeds as you do in the diesel. This and the Octavia’s accomplished chassis mean it can be quite a lot of fun to drive.
As for the 2.0 TDI manual, it’s easy to stall, especially when starting off on slopes, so your only option is to slip the clutch and rev the engine to get going. There is some initial lag as well, up to around 1,800rpm (the DSG version masks this well), and a strong spike in acceleration as all 32.6kgm kicks in. Otherwise it is a very nice engine – there is enough torque off boost for you to potter around town in third gear all day long, and it’s only when you need a quick burst of power that you snap down a gear on the quick, six-speed manual. The car feels quick if you keep it on boost and the engine’s power delivery will never make you wish you had more power.
The rest is the same – you get the same top-quality interiors, the fantastic rear seat, the spacious cabin and the massive boot. Speaking of which, we did notice that the high boot lid does make the Octavia a bit hard to reverse and it did make us wish that Skoda offered a reversing camera as standard.
Type 4-cyls, 1395cc, turbo-petrol / 4 cyls 1968cc turbo-diesel
Power 138 bhp at 4500-6000rpm / 141bhp at 4000rpm
Torque 25.5kgm at 1500-3500rpm / 32.63kgm at 1750-3000rpm
Wheel base 2688mm
Boot volume 590-1580L
Ground clearance 155mm