When you take over the National Gallery, have the Philharmonic Orchestra playing and the prime minister in attendance you know something big is happening. And it doesn’t come much bigger in the Czech Republic than the launch of a new Skoda.
It’s easy to understand why. The automotive industry, and Skoda, specifically, accounts for around 10% of the country’s GDP and a quarter of Czech exports.
Hence the pizazz as around 1,000 journalists from around Europe and Asia descended upon the National Gallery in Prague this week for the unveil of the new Skoda Octavia which goes onto the market early next year.
The new Octavia is part of a product drive by the Czech manufacturer that will see some 30 new and updated products coming being launched between now and 2025 according to board chairman Bernhardt Maier.
He said: “We now sell in 100 international markets and we could sell even more cars if we had the capacity. Over the next decade Skoda will step by step electrify and digitise our products and move towards mobility solutions.”
He described Octavia as the “icon” of the Skoda brand, a model that has been in existence since 1959.
“For Skoda, the Octavia is of immense importance. That’s why we’ve totally renewed this car. The outcome is the best Octavia of all time. It is even more spacious, more practical and safer than ever.
“We are taking a big step into the future with the new generation. Over the last six decades, the Octavia has contributed to the positive development of the company and the brand. I am very confident that the new generation will play its part in maintaining this positive development.”
Development chief Christian Strube said the fourth generation model has grown in size and is longer and wider than its predecessor.
He added: “Thanks to a new design language, the Octavia boasts even more emotional appeal; the interior combines outstanding functionality and a unique amount of space with high-quality materials and clever features, even in small details.
“We have several new connectivity solutions and assistance systems underlining our innovative capability in the compact car segment.”
The Czech car manufacturer has built more than 6.5m Octavias since its launch in 1959. Over the past few years, the third generation of the large compact car has sold about 400,000 units a year worldwide, accounting for almost one third of Skoda’s total sales.
Currently, the Octavia is the overall best-selling model in the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Finland, Hungary, Poland, Serbia and Belarus.
Nearly two thirds of all Octavia buyers opt for the estate making it the best-selling estate in Europe and the most popular import car in Germany.
The estate version of the new model will be launched a few weeks after the hatchback.
The new Octavia features improved rear leg room for passengers and the boot capacity, already the largest in the segment, has increased to 640 litres in the estate variant and 600 litres in the hatch.
It is the first Skoda to feature a head-up display and new infotainment systems offer optional streaming services for radio and TV as well as completely cable-free smartphone connection using wireless SmartLink+ technology.
Media devices or USB sticks can also be directly linked to the infotainment system via the two USB-C ports in the front out of the up to five USB-C ports; a 230-V socket in the rear is optional too.
The new Octavia is powered by TDI and TSI engines and, for the first time, mild-hybrid technology will be offered. When fitted with the 7-speed DSG, the three-cylinder 1.0 TSI producing 81 kW (110 PS) and the four-cylinder 1.5 TSI outputting 110 kW (150 PS) make use of a 48-V belt-driven starter motor and a 48-V lithium-ion battery.
This makes it possible to ‘coast’ with the combustion engine completely switched off, recover energy whilst braking and support the engine with an electronic boost.
The gearbox that comes with the 1.5 TSI is newly developed for engines that deliver high levels of torque and is being used in conjunction with the Octavia’s diesel engines too.
The 2.0 TSI with a power output of 140 kW (190 PS) is exclusively available with all-wheel drive and a 7-speed DSG.
There will also be a plug-in hybrid Octavia iV with a 1.4 TSI petrol engine with two power variants, 150 kW (204 PS) and 180 kW (245 PS), both with a 6-speed DSG.
Three new 2-litre diesel engines provide power outputs ranging from 85 KW (115 PS) to 147 kW (200 PS).
SCOUT and vRS variants will be added to the range later in 2020