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2017 Skoda Octavia RS245 hangs on automatic choice

By Barry Park, 09 Jun 2017 Car News

2017 Skoda Octavia RS245 hangs on automatic choice

Skoda’s best corner-carving Octavia yet will need to have a DSG option if it is to become a permanent addition to Australia’s showrooms

SKODA should know in a few months whether the hottest Octavia RS to carve corners on Australian roads will become a more permanent member of its showroom.

The tipping point? Whether or not the Octavia RS245 will come fitted with a DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox to complement the manual version, giving Skoda the all-important volume it needs to make the hottest liftback and wagon viable in the long term.

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Skoda Australia spokesman Paul Pottinger said the Czech carmaker would likely know in “a couple of months” if a seven-speed DSG option would be available. If it does, it’s likely to see a Frankfurt motor show global debut in September, followed by an arrival here in November. If it doesn’t, the RS245 will become a limited-edition special.

“If it has that [a DSG gearbox], it would be a mitigating part of it being a permanent member of the line-up,” Pottinger said. “But there remains a core of RS buyers who like to shift gears for themselves.”

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The hot Octavia, revealed at March’s Geneva motor show fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox, includes tweaks to its turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine, including the turbo, oil pump, injectors, manifold, timing chain, fuel pump and pistons.

All up, the RS245 – a distant booted cousin to the Volkswagen Golf GTI – will send 180kW/370Nm to the front wheels via the same electronically controlled mechanical limited slip differential that was fitted to the GTI 40th anniversary limited edition.

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Combined, it’s enough to accelerate the RS245 hatchback from 0-100km/h in 6.6 seconds, with the booted version arriving 0.1secs later. Top speed is limited to 250km/h.

The automatic dual-clutch is an important ask for Skoda Australia. Take-up of the manual gearbox on RS-badged models has traditionally been high, but with a DSG-equipped, RS-badged Octavia wagon historically being one of the most popular Skoda-badged models, the availability of an auto is something of a deal-breaker.

“It puts us in a unique position worldwide,” Pottinger said.

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Just like its Volkswagen hatch-based sibling, Skoda’s RS models have about a 15 percent take-up of buyers placing a manual gearbox ahead of the paddle-shift auto.

Skoda’s Octavia range is due for a subtle makeover in about September this year, featuring a makeover of the car’s multimedia unit to include a wireless hotspot, and a tweak to the range’s driver assistance systems that should also be available in the RS245.