Skoda Octavia RS 2014 Review

words - Matt Brogan
The new Octavia RS offers more of everything, not more of the same

Expert Rating

71 / 100
Engine, Drivetrain & Chassis
Price, Packaging & Practicality
Safety & Technology
Behind The Wheel
0 20

Skoda Octavia RS (TSI and TDI)

First Drive
Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic

The Skoda Octavia RS has always offered a little more of everything, and the new model is no exception. With a top speed of 248km/h and the choice of 135kW turbo-diesel or 162kW turbo-petrol power the Octavia RS can hit 100km/h in as little as 6.8 seconds. New sports suspension, progressive steering and an XDS diff lock further improve handling, while fuel economy and creature comfort levels are also better. The Octavia RS goes on sale in Australia from March.

The flagship model of Skoda’s Octavia range has always garnered special interest from Aussie buyers. For the price, the RS variant seems to fill a place few others in the category can, and with an all-new model just around the corner that trend looks set to continue.

Like its predecessor the new Octavia RS is offered in both sedan (well, really a hatch) and wagon bodystyles, with six-speed manual and dual-clutch transmissions and with a choice of turbo-diesel or turbo-petrol four-cylinder engines.

But in addition to what’s arguably a tried and tested formula there are subtle changes that elevate the standing of the third RS generation well above that experienced previously.

For starters there’s an even sharper set of figures. The new Octavia RS is 6km/h faster than its predecessor boasting a top speed of 248km/h. In fact, it’s the fastest production Octavia yet, and can hit 100km/h from a standing start in 6.8 seconds – four-tenths faster than the previous model.

New engines with more power and lower fuel consumption include a 162kW/350Nm petrol and 135kW/380Nm diesel. Both are turbocharged four-cylinder units which Skoda says offer up to 10 per cent more power while saving as much as 19 per cent more fuel.

Idle stop-start and brake energy recovery systems are now standard, while 15mm lower sports suspension, progressive steering and XDS differential lock bolster the Octavia RS’s handling credentials significantly.

But as well as walking the walk, the Octavia RS also talks the talk. It looks athletic but not overstated, and is differentiated from its 'lesser' stablemates by a striking honeycomb grille, bi-xenon headlamps with LED strips and subtle RS badging.

Added aerodynamics, unique bumpers and exposed dual exhaust outlets further augment the Octavia’s longer and wider new stance (+88m and +45mm), while a trio of alloy wheel offerings (17-inch as standard, 18- or 19-inch optionally) in silver or black fill the lightly flared guards just nicely.

Inside, the sporty theme is continued with black trim dominating the decor. Ambient lighting inside of the front doors is new, while a three-spoke perforated leather steering wheel, deeply bolstered seats in cloth or leather, metal pedal facings and numerous RS seals leave no doubt of the model’s energetic intent.

Better still, the RS loses none of its derivative model’s practicality, and is likewise spacious and accommodating.

Depending on trim level the Octavia RS is very well equipped, and if the previous model is anything to go by Australian-delivered variants will come with most of the high-end toys found in the Octavia Elegance variant already on sale, including a variety of high-tech premium infotainment systems.

On the road the Skoda Octavia RS again proves a capable and lively performer. It marries its not insignificant levels of power with more refined dynamism, cornering with effectively zero understeer. Quick-thinking electronics step-in to quash any push from the front-end and there’s little impact on steering feel, which is has to be said is quite good for an electric system.

Point the RS at a curve and the steering holds its radius without fuss. It’s responsive, and well assisted, yet still sporty enough to keep even the most passionate driver informed. The round leather wheel feels good to hand too, and with thick-bolstered seats to hold you in place, the driving position is superb.

On paper, the petrol-powered Octavia RS is quicker, though in-gear acceleration sees the diesel variant pull strongly from virtually any point on in the rev range, which makes overtaking especially strong.

The TDI variant also requires fewer gear changes to achieve the same pace across undulating hills, which reduces cabin noise and fuel economy.

We achieved 9.6L/100km in the TSI variant and 7.9L/100km in the TDI.

The cabin is reasonably quiet, in spite of the fitment of winter tyres, with only a deep thrum from the exhaust to hint at the Octavia RS’s sporty nature when the pedal is pushed to the metal. The new RS is fitted with a sound generator to augment this gravelly tone even further, but in truth it’s unnecessary, and a little artificial sounding.

The large-diameter disc brakes, with look-at-me red calipers, do a great job of arresting your enthusiasm and are now so big Skoda had to source a model-specific space-saver spare wheel to fit around their new stoppers.

The Octavia RS is a terrific combination of price, performance and practicality and is a car that is sure to appeal to a huge audience both in Europe, and in Australia.

In fact, the model has already proved so popular that the waiting list is out to six months, which could impact supply in Oz when it goes on sale in March 2014.

But if you’re prepared to wait, the Octavia RS is worth your patience, and will continue to offer everything the sporty Czech always has.

And perhaps just a little bit more.

2014 Skoda Octavia RS 2.0 TSI pricing and specifications:
Price: $TBA (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol
Output: 162kW/350Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual / Six-speed dual-clutch
Fuel: 6.2L/100km (combined)
CO2: 142g/km (combined)
Safety Rating: Five-star EuroNCAP

2014 Skoda Octavia RS 2.0 TDI pricing and specifications:
Price: $TBA (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel
Output: 135kW/380Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual / Six-speed dual-clutch
Fuel: 4.6L/100km (combined)
CO2: 119g/km (combined)
Safety Rating: Five-star EuroNCAP

What we liked:
>> Price, performance and practicality
>> Build and materials quality
>> Refined dynamics

Not so much:
>> Unnecessary sound generator
>> Badge still suffers in Oz
>> A little tyre noise

Published : Wednesday, 29 January 2014
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