Gone but not Forgotten Series – Škoda Octavia Mk1

Do read our earlier article in the ‘Gone but not Forgotten’ series – Toyota Qualis, Ford Fusion and Tata Nano.

Now you may want to understand on the reason why Octavia is being covered though its 3rd Generation is currently is sales in India. The reason is that the Octavia nameplate has been used confusingly by Škoda India. While the first generation (Mk1) was called Octavia itself; the company named the second generation ‘Laura’ (Mk2). Also when the ‘Laura’ name proved to be controversial; the OEM jumped back to the Octavia brand when it launched the 3rd Generation.

The reasons why Škoda Octavia Mk1 makes to the list is – 

  • Introduced to the market early in 2001, the Octavia was the first domestically built Škoda to be launched in India!
  • Škoda introduced the Octavia and targeted the premium segment of buyers.
  • The car was an instant hit among the Indian car customers due to its agility, handling, powerful engine and solid build quality.
  • Octavia was termed to be ‘built like a tank’ and won much appreciation from enthusiasts.
  • Its turbocharged direct injection (TDI) diesel engine version delivered a decent fuel efficiency and excellent power and torque, resulting in higher level of driveability when compared to existing available products.
  • The competition included Opel which sold the ageing Astra; Mitsubishi’s Lancer diesel was a segment lower and the Elantra simply wasn’t competent enough.
  • The Octavia at the time of launch boasted of unrivalled space, elegant design, high functionality, innovative safety and comfort systems.
  • To date the car has enjoyed cult status in India. It owes this to its perfect engineering, style as well as the combination of functionality and technology.
  • Do note that the Octavia Mk1 used to share the platform with the likes of Audi A3 Mk1 and even VW Jetta Mk4.
  • Octavia in a way help build Škoda a premium image for the brand. In India; Škoda is now considered to be much premium than its parent brand VW. While; the brand perception is quite the reverse in markets outside India.

Škoda Octavia Mk1 drove like a dream and the vRS version took it to altogether a different level. The Octavia vRS Mk1 came with a 1.8L turbo petrol was actually detuned for the Indian market and rolled out 148 bhp v/s to the euro-spec 177 bhp). It was still the fastest thing on four wheels at its time. The car had features that were unheard of in the segment, with shattering performance to match. Coupled to a 5-speed manual, the Škoda Octavia RS could cross 210 kmph with ease. Features like headlamp washers, ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) and dual front airbags were also a part of the standard equipment. Till this day, the Octavia vRS remains one of the best driver oriented cars sold in India!



Let us look at the Octavia Mk1 Sales Trend through its years of existence in the Indian market –

*includes Combi sales
  • The volumes of the Octavia nameplate steadily rose in the first 6 years of existence.
  • The Octavia Mk1 Sales peaked in 2006 when it sold 8,629 units.
  • Interestingly, Škoda introduced the 2nd generation Octavia (Mk2) in 2006. Unfortunately, they decided to sell the old and new generations side by side, simply badging the latest model as the Laura!
  • Infact; the decision to bring in the Laura was when the Octavia Mk1 sales were its peak. Also the Octavia still fared better than the Laura in the next couple of years. The sales comparison is as shown here –
YEAR Laura Octavia
Yr 2006 2,817 8,629
Yr 2007 3,455 7,728
Yr 2008 5,545 3,526
Yr 2009 4,068 2,715
Yr 2010 4,912 2,167
TOTAL 20,797 24,765

Škoda Octavia Mk1 redefined things for Škoda India and made the OEM gain a premium brand image in the Indian subcontinent. The sales figures are the best way to judge a performance – The Octavia Mk1 sold 51,108 units (2001-2010), Laura (Octavia Mk2) sold 31,594 units (2006-2014) and the latest generation Octavia has sold only 16,986 units (2013-till date). Octavia Mk1 gave the entry Škoda wanted in the Indian market and it also created several loyalists for the brand.

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