Skoda India is undergoing a makeover of sorts. The company, till date, has made a muted statement of building solid, feature-rich cars that are lauded by drivers and riders alike. However, even through that, there have been moments of doubts when Skoda withdrew from the hatchback segment (with the Fabia), and even withdrew the Skoda Laura to leave the Rapid, Octavia and Superb as the three mainstays of its India portfolio. Now, however, the company seems to consider the Indian car buyer to have become more mature.
Come September, and Skoda will be introducing two new cars in India - the Rapid Monte Carlo and the Octavia RS. Its much hyped SUV, the Kodiaq, will be making its way to India before the end of 2017, and add three new offerings to the Indian portfolio. While performance figures and more aggressive styling take centrestage, Skoda's new offerings also have a lot to do with technology. In fact, when they finally start selling in India, the Octavia RS and Kodiaq may well become two of the smartest cars on Indian roads.
Not just about infotainment
Skoda's addition of sharp technology in the Octavia RS and Kodiaq is not just about infotainment, but still gives the on-dash display centrepiece a thorough overhaul. As against the standard 2017 Octavia that includes Skoda's rehashed Amundsen infotainment system, the Octavia RS will bring Skoda's top-of-the-line Columbus infotainment system to India for the first time. The previous generation Skoda Octavia was powered by the basic Swing infotainment system, which is still present in the lower variant of the Octavia. The Columbus infotainment system brings a large 9.2-inch display to the Octavia RS, with a redesigned button layout, a 3D navigation system, an internal HDD for media storage, and LTE internet support with a SIM slot for always-on connectivity to enable advanced telematics.
This will allow the Skoda Octavia RS to join the connected car bandwagon in India, and the steady connectivity may also see Skoda bring its MapCare and live traffic information features to India as well, soon. The Octavia RS also gets Canton Audio speakers internationally, although seeing that this was overlooked by Skoda India for the 2017 Octavia, it is unlikely that the Octavia RS will come with the premium Canton speakers, either. However, the Octavia RS is set to get a 10-colour ambient lighting system, along with red double-stitches all over its interiors, a sport steering wheel and leather-wrapped gear knob. Other standard interior features will all be retained from the standard Octavia.
The upcoming Kodiaq SUV will also retain the same infotainment system as that of the Octavia RS, but present a lot more. This one is more likely to get the Canton Audio configuration like the Superb, and will get a 360-degree panoramic view of the car from the inside, thanks to multiple cameras. These multiple cameras will provide standalone and stitched views of the car, in similar format as those used by Jaguar, BMW and others. These are the two elements that the Kodiaq will get over the features included in the Octavia RS, apart from the Czech crystal LED headlamps.
It is unsure as yet in terms of regulations and permissions if Skoda will be allowed to bring the entire technology arsenal to India for both the Octavia RS and the Kodiaq. At its technology briefing, Skoda stated that it is presently working on finalising the features set for the cars, and the entire list will be put out soon. That said, the company did talk about lane assistance, blind spot monitoring, rear traffic alert and front assist for the Octavia RS, along with the standard automatic parking of the regular Octavia.
The Skoda Kodiaq will get more advanced operations, using each of these singular assistance features together to introduce autonomous traffic crawl. The car will be able to take control of its own steering wheel, brakes, transmission and acceleration to crawl along at speeds of up to 50kmph, after which it will relinquish control to the driver. At higher speeds, the Kodiaq will also get adaptive cruise control, where the lane assistance, blind spot monitoring, autonomous braking, front and rear alerts will come active to automate the car’s trajectory. While both the cars are inherently equipped with these technologies, Skoda will take a final call about their inclusion in the India package depending on regulations and permissions.
Deliveries and prices
The Skoda Octavia RS will be launched later this month, and deliveries will begin in September. As for the Kodiaq, Skoda has earmarked a Q4 2017 timeline to introduce the car in India. It is still finalising the engine combinations, equipment package and pricing details for the Kodiaq, and once they launch in India, both the Octavia RS and Kodiaq will potentially be two of the smartest cars on Indian soil.