The limited-edition, manual-only 2016 Skoda Octavia RS230 is the Czech brand’s hottest Octavia variant yet.
Though only up 7kW, an electronically controlled limited-slip diff and 19-inch wheels wearing sticky tyres ramps up the handling ability, while extras elsewhere make the sports flagship liftback sedan and wagon tougher-looking and even better value.
WHAT IS IT?
The 2016 Skoda Octavia RS230 becomes the most powerful, capable version of the third-gen liftback sedan and wagon that first arrived in 2013.
The RS230 borrows its engine and electronically controlled limited-slip diff – with the ability to send 100 percent of torque to either front wheel – from the Golf GTI Performance, but with a six-speed manual gearbox.
It’s a limited edition – Skoda Oz only has 70 to sell initially, though it hopes to have more soon – and seems likely to make a solid contribution to the model – and the brand’s – growing appeal. The brand says the RS230 is a sign of future editions of the Octavia RS.
The Skoda Octavia RS230 liftback sedan costs $41,490 and the Skoda Octavia RS230 wagon costs $43,190.
A $1700 optional Tech Pack brings driver assistance systems such as automatic parking assist, lane assist and keyless entry and start, and introduces a cranking 10-speaker Canton sound system.
WHY WE'RE TESTING IT
Wheels was given a drive of the 2016 Skoda Octavia RS230 on public and private roads in New South Wales as the model became available in Oz.
THE WHEELS VERDICT
The Skoda Octavia is a persuasive sports family car and the RS230 brings a subtle boost to the RS162’s speed and ability, with extra visual appeal – it’s easily worth the extra $3600.
PLUS: Clever diff helps front-drive power-down; cabin space and features for the money; more involving than a Levorg
MINUS: There are only 70 available initially; softer than a Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance, which provides the engine and LSD
THE WHEELS REVIEW
If the passing of the baton from the Subaru WRX to the Golf GTI was the work of the past decade, now its Czech sibling is working on former Subaru Liberty buyers.
The Octavia got off to a slow start on the back of its eastern-bloc look and unknown status when, with the oddball Roomster, it heralded Skoda’s return to Australia in 2007.
But the 2013-on third-gen works with rising cred and more appealing styling, and the RS230, as the hottest Octavia offered in Oz yet, should continue the push with something to please forlorn Liberty wagon and GT buyers.
For $3600 more than a regular Octavia RS162 you get a real electronically controlled limited-slip diff – as opposed to a quasi-LSD ESC function – a modest 7kW peak power boost, handling and styling tweaks, and equipment extras.
Yes, the badge is a bit deceptive because on the RS162, the numerals stand for kilowatts, while the RS230’s signify horsepower – it has 169kW.
If you want to understand the mechanical changes in the hierarchy the VW Group’s hi-po machines, it’s effectively the slotting of a Golf GTI Performance engine and LSD – in a manual – into its bigger, heavier platform buddy.
The RS230 is a limited edition – Skoda initially only has 70 of them in manual-only, liftback/sedan and wagon form. Skoda Managing Director Michael Irmer says we should “Consider this also a preview of future editions of the Octavia RS.”
That’s a good thing, because despite the mild power-up – at 6.7sec it’s only officially a tenth quicker 0-100km/h than the 162 – the changes make the Octavia RS better in every area, especially its low-speed power-down and aggro aesthetics – while strengthening its ever-impressive value for money credentials.
The throbby low-rev rort carries from the regular petrol RS. No need to go cog-swapping in search of grunt, though the oiled six-speeder is sweet, and the hint more pep up top is a joy to deploy.
The clever differential makes the biggest dynamic difference, letting you get on the right pedal sooner when exiting corners thanks to an adroit ability to sling 100 percent of torque to an individual front wheel.
As a Golf GTI Performance cross-shop, you’d notice the additional weight and seemingly softer suspension in a bit of squirm and initial understeer on turn in and during hard braking, but then Skoda’s closed-road launch venue perhaps took the Octavia away from where it does its best work.
Back on the road – a quiet, twisty one – the RS230 impressed with its able, entertaining and practical personality, which few family cars can match – certainly not with this much room inside, for less than $45K.
Model: Skoda Octavia RS230
Engine: 1984cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v turbo
Max power: 169kW @ 6200rpm
Max torque: 350Nm @ 1500-4600rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Weight: 1391kg [1425 wagon]
0-100km/h: 6.7sec (claimed) [6.8 wagon]
Fuel economy: 6.3L/100km [6.4 wagon)
Price: $41,490 [$43,190 wagon]