Review
Singing at a higher octave

Story & pictures by Jeremy R. Chua
17 Sep 2009
 

Call it a Volkswagen clone and you'll be underestimating its value

Skoda Octavia TSI

Casually mention "Skoda" to a colleague or relative (who has their mind set on laying their hands on their first European car) and chances are you'll get a blank look in response.

Well, car nuts like us can't really blame them, can we? Due to a previous lack of publicity, Skodas never really had a significant presence in the local market. There aren't that many models seen on our roads, and it doesn't help that the most commonly seen Skodas happen to be taxis.

For the typical car buyers who think that "European" refers to cars from Germany, Italy, France and the UK, a car that hails from the Czech Republic is something of anomaly to them. And this is (sadly) enough to make them give Skodas a miss.

But Skoda is slowly changing perceptions. The Superb, which has garnered many awards in Europe, has shown drivers here the outstanding value this Czech brand is capable of bringing to the table. The recent launch of the redesigned Octavia has garnered Skoda a few more fans - in fact, it has the potential to be Skoda's volume seller.

Exterior

The Octavia's face still sports the "mini-Superb" styling. Except for slightly different headlamps, one could easily mistake the Octavia for its larger sibling. The chrome bordered grille with its vertical slats is a strong design feature. The bonnet with its slightly raised centre line also gives the car a more masculine look.

Underneath the clear lenses are Xenon headlamps, equipped with an adaptive system which adjusts the beam angles. The front fog lamps have also been given a cornering function, for added vision during night drives.

The Octavia's flanks are characterized by clean lines that make it look like a "proper" and sturdy sedan. The squarish rear quarter panels give way to a more chiseled and less heavy-looking rear end, unlike the one found in the previous model.

The fact that there's something Audi-esque about the tail lights doesn't really bother us. Skoda is after all, a subsidiary of Volkswagen. But you'd have to admit that compared to the car's more stylish front end, the rear doesn't really have the same impact. Despite the rather plain-looking rear end, the Octavia does have a handsome quality - it might not have too many design details, but we like the fact that it looks well-proportioned.

The 1.4 TSI variant comes equipped with 5-spoke 16-inch alloys wheels as standard. The 205/55 series tyres all-around ensure that the Octavia also has a nicely planted stance.


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