We have not yet driven the 2021 Skoda Octavia in real, but the D segment sedan seems to be over-ambitious with its price, here’s why…
Though we had long been waiting for this car, not all of us were happy with the prices, when finally Skoda India launched the fourth generation Octavia here. The 2021 Skoda Octavia is available in two variants- Style and L&K, priced at INR 25.99 lakh and INR 28.99 lakh respectively (Ex-showroom). With a timeless design and the highly capable 2.0L TSI turbocharged petrol engine in place, the new Octavia is indeed tempting for many, but not all !
Ask us why and we will put the blame on the price tag without a second thought ! Going by the spec sheet of the new Octavia, one can never say it is on the fair side (forget ‘competitive’) The 26 lakh ex showroom price would essentially translate to 30 lakh ‘on the road’ in Mumbai or 32 lakh in Kochi, while the OTR quotes for the top-spec L&K variant is 34.44 lakh in Mumbai and 35.86 lakh in Kochi! These are evidently on the higher side.
Adding to the trauma is the fact that the new Octavia has been pushed into the market at a time when the D segment sedans are struggling for breath, mostly strangled by the ‘SUVs’. The affinity for these high-riders have been on the rise in India recently, much the same way as with the rest of the world. At present, the Octavia’s only true rival in the country is the Hyundai Elantra (which for reasons obvious, falls fairly behind the Czech on multiple grounds).
However, popular SUV nameplates with polarizing personas like the Tata Safari, Harrier, Jeep Compass and even the Isuzu DMax V Cross could pose competition to the Octavia on grounds of pricing. The Hyundai Tucson could be called a more befitting SUV rival to the Octy in terms of handling and comfort, and has many of its variants priced below the sedan, even while catering to the ‘SUV fetish’ of the average Indian buyer. A major challenge to the Octavia would be to prove itself a worthier pick over these SUVs.
In a country like India where the major share of car-buying decisions are made based on highly specific price brackets, a product has to have strong USPs and a wisely set price tag, in order to drive volumes. (The market performance of the Skoda VRS in India makes for a case study here) Even while being aesthetically appealing, roomy, capable and comfortable, the 2021 Octavia misses out on some key creature comforts like sunroof and ventilated seats.
The Sunroof is something which the present day Indians are absolutely crazy about. This obsession with the roof window has made major manufacturers here offer them on affordable variants as well. (Tata Nexon’s sunroof equipped mid variants and the Creta SX Executive could be cited as examples) Even the previous generation Octavia had it. Ventilated seats have a more practical significance in our country. Many modern day cars offer this feature, due to their stellar impact on the occupant comfort. As a matter of fact, you can get them on cars which are 5-10 lakh cheaper, but not on the 2021 Octavia! These omissions do make the sedan vulnerable in terms of equipment.
Another key fact to note here is that the fourth generation Skoda Octavia ‘tends’ to eat into the Superb‘s territory on multiple grounds! You and I know the Superb as an overwhelmingly spacious and equally luxurious saloon, things which the new Octavia tries to imitate! Take a glance at the spec sheet and you would be surprised. The new Octavia is just 180mm behind the Superb in length and 35 mm in width. On paper, it is almost as desirable as the bigger car. The prices of the Skoda Superb start at 31.99 lakh, ex showroom, making it just 3 lakh more expensive than the Octavia L&K. Invest another 3 lakh rupees, and you can buy the Skoda Superb L&K which is a different game altogether! This segmentation overlapping could also have its consequences in the long run.
All these combined, it would essentially mean that the new Octavia might have a bumpy road ahead in India. We won’t say it will struggle to survive, but would probably have its footprint curbed. The Octavia might shrink to more well-off enthusiasts and Skoda aficionados alone.