The third generation Skoda Octavia line-up is now complete with the arrival of the RS.
The lowdown? It’s cheaper, quicker and, despite styling tweaks, still as plain looking as an Excel spreadsheet.
The new RS comes in a petrol and diesel variant. Both are direct-injected 2.0-litre turbocharged fours with the 162TSI petrol making 162kW and 350Nm, while the 135TDI diesel produces, you guessed it, 135kW and 380Nm.
You can choose between a six-speed manual and six-speed DSG but the diesel only comes matched to the automatic. Sedan prices start at $36,490 for the manual 162TSI and $38,790 for the DSG. The 135TDI is $39,790. The wagons cost an extra $1350.
What’s important is the entry price has come down by $1500 and the RS costs $5K less than the Golf GTI which shares the same underpinnings.
That shared technology is the RS’s strongest selling point. To the uninformed it’s a pricey medium-sized Euro car for Holden SV6 money, but to those in the know, it’s a hot hatch in a Euro trench coat at a discount rate. The MQB platform the RS shares with the GTI is brilliantly balanced, while under the bonnet both cars use the same engines. Yes, the RS is almost 100kg heavier and, at 4685mm, it’s 336mm longer than the GTI.
On the first page of Skoda’s press release the brand declares the RS as “the fastest production Octavia”, claiming a 0-100km/h time of 6.8sec. At the Australian launch of the car in the Snowy Mountains the best we could do in the 162TSI sedan was 7.1sec, which isn’t bad considering the car was carrying two well-fed journos, their egos, luggage, and a full tank of 98 RON.
Even more impressive than the straight-line shove is the RS’s dynamics. We sampled the pure shifting fun of the manual petrol – with a dollop of torque steer; the diesel wagon, which seemed heavy over the front; and the pick of the bunch, the petrol sedan with DSG.
For a front-wheel drive car its balance is superb. The grip from the 225mm Continentals is mighty good and the brakes pull the RS up nicely. The handling is excellent thanks to a firm suspension set-up of struts up front and multi-link trickery at the rear. The steering’s direct and feels natural.
All very Golf GTI-like, as expected. Even the DSG performed beautifully, although there was no ‘blarp’ on the upshift like you get in the GTI.
Well, that’s because it’s not a Golf GTI – Volkswagen wouldn’t allow it. But you’re almost getting a GTI for less money. Tempting.
Engine: 1984cc inline-4, DOHC, 16v, turbo
Power: 162kW @ 6200rpm
Torque: 350Nm @ 1500-4400rpm
0-100 km/h: 6.8sec (claimed)
Price: $38,790 (sedan, DSG)