Let’s get one thing straight. The Octavia RS230 never needed more power.
That front driven axle could struggle to handle what its turbocharged 2.0-litre inline-four was pumping.
But here comes the new RS245. Which, if it isn’t obvious, scores another 15 horsies under the lid, or 11kW, thanks to some software fiddling.
Torque’s climbed too, by 20Nm, for 180kW and 370Nm in total. Putting its outputs line-ball with the VW Golf GTI Performance.
That’s no coincidence. Now that Volkswagen’s cult hero has upgraded hardware, the hottest Octavia gets the same whizz-bang locking diff and now a seven-speed DSG as hand-me-downs.
The grunt comes as part of a 2018 update for the whole range, which includes a facelift, more interior fruit, and adaptive dampers on the options list.
Skoda’s also introduced the RS245 full time in both transmissions and body styles. We tested the new hero at a ‘secret’ location on New South Wales central coast.
The private circuit, that's confusingly littered with speed signs, offered tight hairpins, rising straights, and extremely technical sections revealed much hasn’t changed.
The RS245 is still an entertaining, and capable, daily driver but not going to tear a track apart.
Besides a wider rear track and new adaptive dampers, the car’s supple composure remains. It’s comfortable, yet controlled, and feels up to it until about eight tenths.
Beyond that the car’s fairly neutral into the corner, but starts to push under power. It’ll easily spin the inside front, too, provided traction control hasn’t shut down the party.
Pro driver Steve Owen, who was on hand at the car’s launch, suggests rotating the Octavia into the corner. This helps square the corner and quell wheelspin.
However, that’s not the easiest thing to do without patience. The RS245 just isn’t as keen to change direction as the best hot hatches. Its 2680mm wheelbase is about 49mm longer than a Golf’s, and it’s a bit tubbier.
There are still some great tools in the Octavia RS245’s arsenal. That steering is accurate as a laser aligner and the added rear track helps free the rear end under brakes.
The engine’s powerband has been stretched by 500rpm over the RS230, and 200rpm beyond the Golf GTI Performance, meaning the Skoda wrings everything from higher 6700rpm redline with a meaty, hard-charging soundtrack.
It’s a great match for a DSG ’box, the six-speed manual’s still the entry point and quoted as quicker to 100km/h, but the seven-speed lacked a perfect ratio between second and third for tight, low-speed corners.
We’d pick the sedan if you insist on going ten-tenths on a regular basis, along with better pads, discs, and fluid. But overall the RS245 remains great value, even with a $1700 price hike.
With that sting comes a new brilliant 9.2-inch touchscreen that’s infinitely better than the old smaller unit. While auto folding black mirrors are thrown in. The wagon body (for an extra $1500) remains an IKEA-devouring warrior. While both cars on the stretched MQB platform feel compact, yet genuinely roomy. The only markdown is dull tip-in during stop-start driving.
The seats are cool as ever but come with Alcantara cushions, shunning the old scratch-prone leather items. They’re electrically adjustable, but you roll out of them more on track than the bolsters should allow.
The RS230 fell over at Bang For Your Bucks last year, and the RS245 hasn’t fully corrected its shortcomings. Yes, it pulls harder up high in the rev range, but the grunt’s worsened traction issues. And the optional dampers haven’t injected much needed stiffness into to the mix.
We suspect the story might be different away from red-mist environments, because the RS230 was a brilliant road car. And the RS245’s new adaptive dampers suggest it might even have improved its urban manners or when taking it on a brisk punt.
For now, it’s not as entertaining as it is practical, which would be a lofty achievement in this case, but it comes close. The Skoda RS245 remains a thinker’s lead-foot chariot. But we’ll reserve final judgement on its complete abilities for the road drive.
3.5 stars out of 5
2018 Skoda Octavia RS230 specifications:
Engine: 1984cc inline-four, DOHC, 16v, turbo
Bore and Stroke: 82.5mm x 92.8mm
Power: 180kW @ 5000-6700rpm
Torque: 370Nm @ 1600-4300rpm
0-100km/h: 6.7 seconds
Weight (tare): 1346kg (manual, sedan), 1366kg (auto, sedan); 1380kg (manual, wagon), 1400kg (auto, wagon)
Transmission: six-speed manual or seven-speed dual clutch
Price: Sedan Manual $43,390 - DSG $45,890 / Wagon Manual $44,890 - DSG $47,390