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Skoda Octavia

VOLKSWAGEN HAS been sitting on the sidelines of the Indian automotive scene ever since the multinationals have been here from 1995-96. They had been peeping into the Indian automotive scenario trying to see where they will make their presence most felt. Volkswagen, a company that carries an image of low profile but product of great impact worldwide, finally arrived on the Indian automobile horizon and brought in a product that will blow the competition off their feet. They have landed here with a product `Skoda' that actually has all the features of `D' segment and yet priced at the top of the line `C' segment. Now that is what I call intelligent product launch. They launched their Skoda Octavia at a mild ceremony in the showroom of their dealership unlike other car manufacturers who go ga-ga hosting big parties at the cities most prominent five star-plus venues. Skoda, a Czech product, identifies itself with the traditional low profile, conventional policies of the country, believes in no noise but great value for money product.

The Skoda extends 100 years of tradition, and after a long break, reinstates the company among the makers of high-class vehicles. Skoda, which was formerly associated particularly with the production of affordable cars, has now taken another step towards becoming a high value car manufacturer, which is able to satisfy the high demands of its customers even in the higher segments of the market.

The tradition of producing large cars with powerful engines started in the Twenties and Thirties of the last century when Skoda designed 15 large models equipped with six-cylinder or eight-cylinder power units (cylinder capacity ranging from 1.8 to 6.6 litres). The Czechoslovakian President, T. G. Masaryk, used one of the six cylinder models in 1925 and a great many Skoda models were exported to different European countries and overseas. Cars from Mlada Boleslav found their way to Japan and were even used at the Royal Court.

The story of one of the world's oldest automobile manufacturers began in 1895 when two gentlemen, Vaclav Laurin and Vaclav Klement founded the company, which today enjoys worldwide renown under the brand, Skoda Auto. In December 1990, the Czech Government chose the German Volkswagen group as a foreign partner for Skoda Auto. On April 6, 1991, the Skoda Automobilova AS started its activity as the fourth branch of the VW group, together with VW, Audi and SEAT. Today, Skoda Auto has a presence in 70 markets worldwide and is the fastest growing automobile manufacturer in the world.

Dynamic, elegant design, solidity and self-confidence as well as extraordinary space utilisation characterises the new Skoda Octavia. It is one of the most well-built luxury cars manufactured in the Czech Republic, one of the world's most up-to-date factories. The Octavia is being imported into India as semi knocked down (SKD) kits and assembled at Skoda Auto India's Aurangabad plant. The car has a classy face the smartness of the body that does make a head turn around. It has a convenient interior, grand luggage room, superior outfit and excellent design, good, safe handling, and is fitted with VW engines, that says a lot for an automobile. It has ergonomically designed seats that offer all the comforts and safety to passengers.

The car, it is claimed, is one of the safest cars in its class, and already meets future EU safety standards. Both driver side and front seat passenger airbags are standard equipment in Octavia. The three-point seat belts on both front and rear seats are equipped with seat belt pretensioners to take up any slack in the front and provide maximum safety to the driver and passenger. It has a dazzle-free clear and green illuminated cockpit. The 15-inch wheels keep a firm grip on the road and has front and the rear disc brakes with ABS as standard in the 2.0 petrol. In addition to this it boasts an EDS electronic differential locking system that prevents wheel spin. Its has a strong crumple zones plus tubular steel side impact bars in the side doors and in the sills also a salient feature of a fully galvanised body that prevents the car from rust and corrosion.

The latest range of eco-friendly water based paints are applied on this car giving a two-year paint and corrosion guarantee. Octavia will be available in deep sea blue metallic, rally red, agave green metallic, diamond silver metallic, candy white and stone grey colours.

Octavia is the first notch back design in India, which provides a huge 528-litre stowaway space. With the rear seat folded, the space created for storage increases to 1328 litres.

Skoda Auto India will play an important role in Skoda Auto's strategic plans for South and East Asian markets. The Aurangabad facility will be the exporting hub to cater to neighbouring markets such as Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Already this car is being looked by the tour and the upper-end taxi operators with an eye on after sales, service and availability of spares is not going to let the product down. Aggressively priced, Skoda Auto India is introducing the 1.9 litre turbo diesel inter-cooler Octavia followed by the 2 litre petrol version. Octavia is available at exclusive Skoda dealers in New Delhi (Silverstone Motors), Mumbai (Nummereins Motors) and Goa (Avelar Motors) for a competitive price of Rs. 10.65 lakhs for either the diesel version without the ABS and the airbags or the petrol version with all the goodies.

Tutu Dhawan

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