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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.