In a very astute piece of marketing that began in 2004, Czech carmaker Skoda has made its name synonymous with Le Tour de France. No exciting driving shots – apart from swerving to avoid wobbly bikes or suicidal spectators – but lots of exposure for the distinctive bold Skoda grille and winged arrow logo.
To capitalise on this Skoda Australia has released a number of new or upgraded models that we’re currently road testing and will report on over the next few weeks.
Available as either a sedan or wagon the RS (for ‘RallySport’) is effectively a longer (+336 mm) version of the Volkswagen Golf GTi with a different body. Is shares its engine and transmission with the VW.
While the Skoda can’t match the iconic VW hot hatch for street cred it does offer the convenience that comes with more interior space. Performance is reduced slightly due to the larger, heavier body.
Octavia RS adds extra presence through the addition of a bolder grille design, honeycomb air inlets, 18-inch alloy wheels, wide air intake, front foglamps, LED daytime running lights and ‘RS’ badging.
The interior of the Octavia RS wagon provides a surprising amount of rear seat space, both in knee and headroom.
The outer rear seats have the same ribbed surface as the fronts and, although there is seating for three in the back the centre seat is narrow and uncomfortable. The 588-litre cargo area in the wagon has a low floor helped by a space-saver wheel below. The sedan’s boot takes only 20 litres less than the wagon’s.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
There’s a choice of two turbocharged 2.0-litre engines, a 162 kW / 350 Nm petrol or a 135 kW / 380 Nm 2.0-litre diesel.
As we’ve come to expect with each new generation of modern engines there are improvements across the board. Power is up by 15 KW, torque up by a whopping 70 Nm with zero to 100 km/h acceleration down from 7.5 to 6.9 seconds. The official combined cycle fuel consumption for the 162 TSI wagon drops from 8.5 to 6.6 L/100 km although it’s unlikely that the typical RS buyer will achieve this number. In our standard urban/motorway test route, with a bit of rural hustling in between, we couldn’t get below 9.6.
Transmission options are six-speed manual in the petrol engine only and six-speed manual DSG dual-clutch transmission with both petrol and diesel.
While most driving enthusiasts are likely to opt for the petrol Octavia RS the surcharge for the diesel is now just $1000 (down from $2000) and this, together with the extra torque and better fuel economy will make it more attractive for daily commuters.
An optional Tech Pack is due shortly and it will provide adaptive cruise control; reversing camera; automatic parking assist; and an enhanced keyless entry system. No price for the RS Tech Pack has been announced as yet but based on those for the standard Octavia models it could be around $4000.
The Octavia’s system uses an 8-inch high resolution touch screen and it’s one of the best we’ve encountered. We’re becoming increasingly concerned about the distractive effect of these screens and were pleased to be able to use such a clear screen with large buttons and a format that’s easy to understand as well as proximity sensors.
The system itself includes satellite navigation; DVD audio and video player; voice control; USB, Auxiliary and a pair of SD Card sockets; jpeg viewer; and an internal 64 Gb flash memory. The Bluetooth mobile phone and audio streaming is refreshingly easy to pair.
In true Volkswagen / Audi style the sporty Skoda was a solid and reassuring feel to the body. Handling is precise and accurate with only a hint of understeer when cornering hard , there’s minimal body roll.
In line with its sporty credentials the suspension is noticeably firmer than on the standard Octavia but certainly not enough to cause any discomfort. Similarly the front sports seats are firmer with strong side bolsters, but not to the extent that we’ve had in other sporty cars.
On the motorway segment of our route the big Czech loped along in comfort but with the ability to surge effortlessly when we encountered hills.
Skoda Octavia RS is right up there with the most versatile cars available in Australia. It’s available as a sedan or wagon; with petrol or diesel power; is large and comfortable enough for long distance cruising; yet with driving characteristics not far short of its Golf GTi cousin it’s great fun to drive.
Add a very competitive price ($1500-plus lower than the 2009 model depending on the varioant), a European brand that shares major components with several Audi and Volkswagen models and the Octavia RS is a vehicle that’s well-worth checking out.
For those with more sedate tastes and with an eye for a bargain the standard Octavia is available, again as either a sedan or wagon, starting from a very reasonable $21,690 (plus on-road).
AT A GLANCE
Octavia RS 162 TSI 2.0-litre petrol four-door sedan: $36,490 (manual), $38,790 (DSG automatic)
Octavia RS 135 TDI 2.0-litre diesel four-door sedan: $39,790 (DSG automatic)
Octavia RS 162 TSI 2.0-litre petrol five-door wagon: $37,840 (manual), $40,140 (DSG automatic)
Octavia RS 135 TDI 2.0-litre diesel five-door wagon: $41,140 (DSG automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Skoda dealer for driveaway prices.
FEATURES ABS Brakes: Standard in all models Automatic Transmission: $2300 Optional in 162 TSI, standard in 135 TDI
Cruise Control: Standard in all models Dual Front Airbags: Standard in all models Front Side Airbags: Standard in all models Electronic Stability Program: Standard in all models Rear Parking Sensors: Standard in all models Reversing Camera: Not offered
Auxiliary Audio Input: Standard in all models Bluetooth: Standard in all models Steering Wheel Mounted Controls: Standard in all models
SPECIFICATIONS (Skoda Octavia RS 162 TSI 2.0-litre turbo-petrol five-door wagon)
Capacity: 1.984 litres
Configuration: Transverse, four cylinders in line
Head Design: DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Compression Ratio: 9.6:1
Bore/Stroke: 82.5 mm x 92.8 mm
Maximum Power: 162 kW @ 6200 rpm
Maximum Torque: 350 Nm @ 1500-4400 rpm
Driven Wheels: Front
Manual Transmission: Six-speed
Automatic Transmission: Six-speed DSG
Final Drive Ratio: NA
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4685 mm
Wheelbase: 2680 mm
Width: 1815 mm
Height: 1452 mm
Turning Circle: 10.2 metres
Kerb Mass: 1459 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 litres
Towing Ability: 1600 kg (with braked trailer)
Boot Capacity (wagon): 588 litres (1718 litres with rear seatbacks lowered)
SUSPENSION AND BRAKES:
Front Suspension: MacPherson struts, lower triangular links, torsion stabiliser
Rear Suspension: Multi-element axle, one longitudinal and three transverse links, torsion stabiliser
Front Brakes: Ventilated disc
Rear Brakes: Disc
0-100 km/h Acceleration: 6.9 seconds
Type: Petrol 95RON
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.6 L/100km
GREEN VEHICLE GUIDE RATINGS:
Greenhouse Rating: 6/10
Air Pollution Rating: 6.5/10
Three years/100,000 km