‘Simply Clever’ is Skoda’s advertising tag-line but for the sporty Octavia RS sedan, we’re adding ‘simply fast’. With the RS, Skoda – Volkswagen Group’s Czech Republic brand – has delivered the fastest Octavia to-date - a top-shelf high-performance European which is astonishing value-for-money.
Skoda has been building cars since 1905 and today ranks as a one of the shining star in the Volkswagen Group with savvy European buyers recognizing the German influence in production quality combined with the sharp prices of all models.
Skoda is the largest single employer in the Czech Republic and as well as building its own cars, is a supplier of components to Volkswagen.
But for many bleary-eyed Australians who stay up late each watching TV each winter, Skoda is best-known as a key sponsor and car supplier to the Tour de France cycling classic. The way the world’s best riders tackle those mountain roads, maybe the Octavia RS was developed to keep up with them.
Skoda Octavia RS Overview
Octavia is Skoda’s nicely-styled mid-sizer and the latest all-new model range debuted earlier this year starting from $21,690. However www.carshowroom.com.au has just spent a week in Octavia’s high-performance RS model – the RS 162 TSI six-speed manual which retails for $36,490.
Like Volkswagen’s GTI models, the Skoda Octavia RS is much more than ‘badge engineering’ and amongst its extras includes a powerful turbocharged 2.0-litre engine, sports suspension with a multi-link rear-end, sporty RS seats and other interior/exterior enhancements. Combine that with lots of Volkswagen cues in terms of interior appointments and kit and its adds-up to a total package which underscores the tremendous value of that sub-$37K sticker.
And for families, the good news is the latest Skoda Octavia is significantly larger than its already generously-proportioned predecessor with genuine five-person space inside and a massive cargo capacity. Yep, a family-friendly, high-performance European mid-sizer doesn’t have to start north of $50,000 so read on…
Skoda Octavia RS Engine
The latest generation Skoda Octavia RS employs a new petrol engine – Volkswagen Group’s turbocharged DOHC 2.0-litre, four-cylinder code-named EA888 which is shared with the Golf GTI. Compared to previous versions of this engine, the latest development includes a newly developed cylinder head with integrated exhaust cooling and a dual injection system (direct and manifold injection).
Power is up by 15kW compared to the previous generation at 162kW at 6200rpm and torque is up by 70Nm to 350Nm between 1500-4400rpm.
For zero to 100km/h you can chalk-up 6.8 seconds and combined-cycle fuel consumption is rated at 6.4l/100kms.
Skoda Octavia RS The Interior
The previous generation Skoda Octavia wasn’t lacking for interior space, but with the new model 102mm longer in the wheelbase to provide an extra 73mm in legroom, you have to say interior space is a standout in this league. Luggage capacity is also up on the previous model – now a massive 588-litres with the rear seat in-place.
Lots of RS logos and a predominantly black colour scheme inside identify this is the sporty member of the Skoda Octavia family but the best parts are the front seats – handsomely style RS sports seats trimmed in fabric/leather. There’s also a three-spoke sports steering wheel trimmed in perforated leather with height/reach adjustment and alloy pedals for a top-notch driving environment.
Skoda Octavia RS also gains upgraded RS instrumentation with a colour multi-function display.
Skoda Octavia RS Exterior & Styling
The latest Skoda Octavia has grown some over its predecessor and is a genuine mid-sizer. In fact the sedan is a full 88mm longer and 45mm wider.
Our test car turned heads painted in the new ‘Steel Grey’ – a colour exclusive to the RS model Skoda Octavia. Combined with its nicely-style 18-inch alloy wheels (also exclusive to the RS) our Octavia had considerable ‘street cred’.
At the front, RS models gain unique bumpers with bi-xenon headlights (with a black background) and integrated LED DRLs, new fog-lights and honeycombe air inlets. The chrome-trimmed radiator grille has black blades and frames the new-design Skoda logo.
All Octavia’s have a distinctive set-back C-pillar and sloping roof which combines with the high ‘tornado line’ to provide a powerful profile which accentuates the larger dimensions of the latest models.
At the rear, the RS model is easily identified by its bootlid (well it’s a hatchback technically) spoiler, black diffuser and twin exhaust tailpipes.
Skoda Octavia RS On The Road
The Skoda Octavia RS boasts a significant alteration from regular models underneath in the form of a nicely set-up multi-link rear suspension. The front uses a MacPherson strut layout with lower triangular wishbones and the RS has a 12mm lower ride height than regular Octavias.
And of course there’s Volkswagen’s EDL electronic differential lock and clever XDL extended electronic differential lock integrated in the ESC kit and a smart progressive steering system which changes ratio as lock is applied. If you’re thinking this all sounds a bit like the Volkswagen Golf GTI you’d be correct and that was obvious in the driving.
The thing is, as well as that extra grunt and chassis development, the latest generation Skoda Octavia is lighter than its predecessor and stiffer thanks to increased use of high tensile steel (although naturally it’s still heavier than the GTI). So while the superseded Octavia RS was a good steer, this new one jumps up the rankings.
With sport mode set, there was a handy feel of the rear-end doing some work through the twists and curves of our high-speed mountain road test loop (only the best of the high-performance front-drivers do that) which provided extra confidence and verve when turning-in. Grip levels were good and mid-corner balance was just how we like it.
And while the Octavia RS doesn’t get the active dampers of the Golf GTI, its ride was taut and precise without being too harsh – and that’s a good thing.
Around town, the Skoda Octavia RS was easy to live with – good visibility, easy parking, easy programming of the satellite navigation and the six-speed manual was light to use in peak-hour traffic.
Skoda Octavia RS Challenges
We had been testing the Volkswagen Golf GTI the week preceding the Skoda Octavia RS and for some reason the Skoda wasn’t quite as refined on the freeway –a smidge more wind and tyre noise.
And we’re also deducting points for the exhaust note – strangely without the sporty snap and crackle of the Golf GTI.
Skoda Octavia RS Verdict
Now here’s a car we’d like to have in our garage permanently. You just can’t escape the sensational value-for money of the Skoda Octavia RS – a genuine turbocharged, high-performance European mid-size sedan for $36,490 gets our vote.
Family space, a great drive and nicely kitted-out inside, the Skoda Octavia RS makes sense of the Volkswagen influence with high-standard built quality, top-notch materials and appointments…and of course that brilliant turbocharged 2.0-litre powerplant. Easy on the eye too we reckon (although we’re not sure about that ‘Steel Grey’ paint – we’ll take ours in white or blue thanks).
But don’t just take our word for it – Skoda sales are booming in the UK as the Brits increasingly appreciate the ‘smarts’ of Volkswagen’s Czech Republic brand. So even if you don’t stay up and watch the Tour de France, if a high-performance European mid-sizer is on your mind, test driver the Skoda Octavia RS – we guarantee you’ll be impressed.
Skoda Octavia RS The Competition
Comparisons with the Volkswagen Golf GTI are inevitable but a bit unfair as the Skoda Octavia is a mid-sizer, but anyway… You’ll need more coin as the GTI starts at $41,490. Identical under the bonnet with Volkswagen’s 162kW/350Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre. German build quality of the Golf marginally shades the Octavia (but Volkswagen ranks alongside Mercedes-Benz at the top of the list in that department).
Mazda6 is a CarShowroom.com.au favourite mid-sizer and the well-equipped GT sedan (six-speed auto) will set you back $43,220. However the Mazda6 GT is not really in the high-performance league of the Skoda Octavia RS with 138kW/250Nm from Mazda’s atmo 2.5-litre.