This Czech beauty belongs to 37 year old Senthil Kumar Chenniappan from Coimbatore. We met him on a race day couple of months back and couldn’t resist taking it for a quick spin before an impromptu photo-shoot broke out. It was the first third generation modified Octavia we came across and it didn’t matter the car was dusty. And were it not for the lack of supporting mods planned and my soft spot for a Porsche 911, this would have been on the cover.
Designed by Jozef Kaban, the same person responsible for the Bugatti Veyron’s styling, the Octavia is a great car to look at. With sharp lines dominating the balanced three box silhouette, the car manages to look conventional yet sophisticated. The blacked-out headlamps and bright DRL that underline it are very modern. The panoramic sunroof is designed to look like a part of the windscreen and extends about halfway up the roof. The rear end of the Octavia has a typical Skoda look with rather squarish tail lamps on either side of a chiseled boot lid. The bootlid still opens like a hatch but the C pillars of this third gen Octavia has been pushed back to liberate more headroom for rear passengers. It is about 90mm longer, 45mm wider than the Laura it replaces and has an 80mm longer wheelbase. It is longer than the Jetta too, but thanks to advancements made in the latest MQB architecture, it is also lighter. The diesel DSG variant is about 70kgs lighter than the earlier Laura. It is also one of those cars which gets different rear suspension for the three engines. The 1.4 TSI and 2.0TDI gets torsion beam while the 1.8TSI gets a proper multi-link setup.
Senthil bought his car in 2015 and let the cool guys at Uber Werkstatt AG in Coimbatore play with it. First to go on were the 18 inch BBS SR in matte grey. KW Street Comfort suspension was chosen for its balance between handling and ride comfort. With the right drop dialled in to these coilovers, and those wheels filling up the arches well, it’s got the stance.
Twist the key in a satisfying old fashioned way, and you know it is not just all show and no go, this car. The EA288 series engine develops 141bhp and 320NM torque. Only a handful of tuners have had their hands at remapping this ECU, so Senthil is still waiting to turn up the wicker on his car. But even in stock trim, this engine is way too much fun. Slot the 6 speed DSG into S, and it turns into a willing performer. You get a satisfying push into the seats every time the turbo builds up boost and overtaking is never an issue with the power on tap. The gearbox even downshifts reasonably well and holds on to gears till you reach the upper limits of the powerband. The peppy engine coupled with the willing nature of the gearbox makes you enjoy the additional grip the coilovers bring to the table.
The KW Street Comfort is probably one of the best compromises for a everyday car you can have. There is good amount of bite from the front end when you are in the mood to play and it takes silly speeds to reach the limits of the grip the 225/45R18 Yokohama Advan Sports offer. Body roll is negligible and the way it turns into a corner is commendable. You can do mid-corner corrections at some fairly high speeds and multiple direction changes without the rear losing grip. And yet, despite all that sports car handlng, it doesn’t crash into potholes or make for a skittish ride. The sharp steering and strong brakes add to the confidence of driving this car fast.
As far as all-rounders go, the new Octavia has the makings of a winner. It is good looking, classy, practical, adequately fast, loaded, and with the right wheels and suspension, loads of fun too. All it needs now is a proper remap.