2009 Skoda Octavia RS First Drive Review

Steane Klose | 27 Comments

2009 Skoda Octavia RS First Drive Review

ALLOWING MOTORING SCRIBES to mercilessly flog your new model for more than three hours at a track is a display of serious confidence in your product.

To launch the new look Octavia RS, Skoda Australia assembled the motoring press at Top Gear Australia’s test track at Camden Airport and let us loose.

There were no real rules, we weren’t asked to take it easy, or “only do a few laps”; it was more a case of “please ring the Octavia’s neck and let us know how you get on”.

So we did, and the Octavia RSs took what we dished out lap after lap, never faltering.

The new Octavia RS has proven that it can handle a beating, but is it really any different to the old Octavia RS?

Let’s take a look at what has changed.

STYLING

2009_skoda-octavia-rs_first-drive-review_22

The more things change, the more they stay the same?

The new Octavia RS has felt the sting of the surgeon’s scalpel, and what is best described as a conservative restyle is the result.

There is a new grille adorned with the RS logo, new headlamps - which can be equipped optionally with xenon lights and dynamic angle control - and the integrated headlight washers are now larger.

The front bumper has been redesigned and features a wider and more prominent air intake. The automotive fashion elite will be pleased to note that LED daytime running lights are now standard fitment, while cornering fog lamps can be optioned.

2009_skoda-octavia-rs_first-drive-review_23

Standard wheels are 18inch Neptune alloys, although buyers can choose from a number of alloy wheel designs. You can also choose between seven paint colours when ordering your new RS.

THE INTERIOR

Is Skoda building a better Volkswagen?

Skoda is known for its conservatively pleasing exterior design. Less well known is the outstanding level of quality seen in every Skoda we have driven, and where you notice it most is on the inside.

2009_skoda-octavia-rs_first-drive-review_24

The interior is simple, attractive, well executed and beautifully put together. It is very difficult to find fault. The quality of the materials used and the fit and finish are more than you would normally expect from a car in the Octavia RS’s price range.

Setting the new RS apart from the old is a new style of interior trim specific to the RS, or for those who prefer leather, it can be optioned.

The dual-zone climate control air conditioning has also been tweaked and is now equipped with AQS (Air Quality Sensor). AQS constantly measures the quality of the air drawn into the vehicle and, if necessary, automatically switches to recirculating the interior air.

2009_skoda-octavia-rs_first-drive-review_25

Essentially the new RS has been brought into line with the rest of the Octavia range and benefits from the many detail changes introduced earlier this year.

EQUIPMENT AND FEATURES

Like the Octavia on which it is based the RS features a comprehensive array of active (crash avoidance) and passive (crash mitigation) safety features.

Six airbags, front whiplash optimised head restraints, the Electronic Stability Program (ESP), advanced Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) and Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR) and Electronic Brake-pressure Distribution (EBD) are all standard in the Octavia RS range.

On the track we found that the ESP was calibrated to allow a little leeway before taking the reins, but ensured that all scribblers in attendance kept the RSs on the blacktop.

In addition to the comprehensive RS standard equipment, the list of options includes numerous possibilities to customise the Octavia RS, including an electric glass sunroof, front parking sensors and the Columbus Satellite Navigation system with 30GB hard drive. Wagon’s can be optioned with ‘privacy glass’ from the 'B' pillar back.

MECHANICAL PACKAGE

Under the bonnet has seen the least change, with the Octavia RS retaining the same 2.0 TFSI four-cylinder petrol and 2.0 TDI four-cylinder diesel engines. Both are fantastic units and the fact that they remain unchanged is testament to just how good they are.

The 2.0 TFSI in-line four-cylinder petrol engine features computer-controlled high-pressure direct injection, turbocharging and intercooling. Power peaks at an impressive 147kW, which occurs across a 900rpm range from 5100rpm to 6000rpm. Torque peaks at 280Nm and is available from 1800rpm right through to 5000rpm.

The Octavia RS TSI manual liftback accelerates from 0 - 100km/h in 7.3 seconds (manual wagon in 7.5 seconds), lives happily on a diet of 95 RON unleaded, and emits 179 g/km of CO2 (manual liftback and wagon, according to ADR81/02).

The 2.0 TDI is a common rail direct injection engine that produces 125kW and 350Nm of torque (available between 1,750 and 2,500rpm), making it the most powerful diesel engine in the Skoda range.

2009_skoda-octavia-rs_first-drive-review_04

It is also astonishingly quiet thanks to its relatively low compression ratio and very precise injector control. The 2.0 TDI is capable of taking the Octavia RS manual liftback from 0 to 100km in 8.4 seconds (manual wagon in 8.5 seconds).

Efficiency is the diesel’s forte with the TDI returning a miserly 5.9 litres/100kms (manual liftback and wagon, according to ADR81/02) on the combined cycle and outputs 155 g/km of CO2 (manual liftback and wagon, according to ADR81/02).

Both the TFSI and TDI engines are available with the standard six-speed manual or optional six-speed DSG gearboxes.

The new Octavia RS (like the old) has a reinforced rear body section. Skoda has braced the rear section of the RS sedan and wagon and used laser welding to join the roof to the side of the car. The result is a significant increase in torsional body rigidity.

Suspension has been lowered and features revised dampers and springs. MacPherson struts underpin the front end while the rear suspension is a multi-link design.


THE DRIVE

The launch program began at Sydney airport, and took us out to the rural hamlet of Camden and Camden Airport, located around 60km Southwest of Sydney’s CBD.

Camden Airport is best known as being the location of Top Gear Australia’s test track. The track uses the main runway as its straight, with a combination of roads and taxiing areas making up the rest of the circuit.

Following a brief familiarisation session we were told to have some fun and had the track to ourselves for the following three hours or so, in our case enough time to sample both the TFSI manual and DSG equipped RS.

2009_skoda-octavia-rs_first-drive-review_26

It is no secret that the 2.0 TFSI is held in high regard by enthusiasts. It is a beautifully balanced four-cylinder that sings sweetly right up to the 7000rpm shift point we were given on the day.

The manual gearbox has a light and well-defined shift. It’s not a ‘snickety-snick’ rifle bolt action but it is imminently driveable. Combined with a light clutch and predictable ‘take-up’ point the manual is a fun drive.

The DSG equipped car certainly felt quicker as it belted through the gears but being a little old-fashioned, we still prefer the predictability of the manual.

That’s not to say the DSG put a foot wrong; it's a remarkable gearbox and if you can afford the extra $2300 to option one, no-one is going to question the decision. Left to its own devices the DSG was an intuitive drive partner on the track, picking the right gear for any occasion.

2009_skoda-octavia-rs_first-drive-review_27

The RS was a hoot on the track. That nicely calibrated ESP system allows you to push harder into corners, brake later and seemingly defy the laws of physics through the cone chicanes by allowing you to tuck the front end in at speed without heading backwards into the grass.

Posting a quick time is all about maintaining forward momentum. You can catch the TFSI off the boil in a tight corner, where it will pause for a second as boost builds.

We noticed this in both the manual and DSG equipped cars, where second gear was just a fraction too tall for the speed we were carrying through two of the tighter corners.

Four fast laps would see the front brakes smoking heavily when you pulled into the pits, but there was no let-up in the way they performed.

2009_skoda-octavia-rs_first-drive-review_28

Towards the end of the day a spongier brake pedal was evident (during the hot lap sessions) but the two cars being cycled through the hot lap program were given no quarter and no rest.

We picked a DSG equipped TDI for the trip back to Sydney Airport and had a brief taste of what the diesel RS has to offer. The big difference is torque and while the diesel runs out of puff just as the petrol is getting into stride, it swings a knock-out blow lower in the rev-range.

There is enough low-down torque in the diesel to unsettle the wheel in your hands under full throttle acceleration. It’s not quite torque steer, but the twitching wheel leaves you in no-doubt that this oiler is well muscled.

On the road, the diesel feels almost as smooth and eager as the TFSI, in fact we found ourselves double checking the marked redlines to confirm that we had indeed jumped into the diesel.

THE VERDICT

No, the new Octavia RS is essentially not a whole lot different to the old Octavia RS. It's a little sharper on the styling front and benefits from the upgrades introduced to the Octavia range earlier this year, but its a case of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

The new Octavia RS remains a cracking drive on the road and has proven that it can soak up some serious punishment on the track, all the while being an immensely entertaining drive.

We have a TDI and TFSI booked in for a full review and will bring you a comprehensive verdict after spending more time with both.

Until then we recommend that you finally (for some) put the ‘Skoda communist era’ behind you and take a close look at this beautifully-built, value for money performance sedan and wagon.

Pricing for the new Octavia RS starts at $37,990 for the liftback and $39,990 for the wagon and we suspect that most buyers will also add the optional six-speed DSG gearbox to the mix.

Surely that has to make the Octavia RS some kind of performance bargain?

Filed under: Featured, review, wagon, Skoda, Skoda Octavia, petrol, skoda octavia rs, sedan, fwd, turbo, small, skoda rs, family, 4cyl, 5door, 4door

Leave a comment:

Required
Required
Enter comment here.
  • Matt J says,
    5 years ago
    Before reading the article:

    =O
  • Matt J says,
    5 years ago
    1 like
    After reading the article:

    =D
  • Tomas79 says,
    5 years ago
    1 like
    Skoda has brilliant resale in Europe, mainly due to it’s high level of quality, I don’t see why Australia should be any different!!

    http://videos.streetfire.net/video/389-Fifth-Gear-New-Skoda_634704.htm
  • Jake02 says,
    5 years ago
    Do you guys (TMR) have any more real pics (not just Skoda's)? I'm just inquisitive as to the real Australian specification (the ones I sat in tuesday week ago didn't have electric folding-mirrors whereas the Skoda Aus brochure says they do...).
    Thanks
  • Matt J says,
    5 years ago
    Oh Jake02.... I went and checked out the Skoda vRS at Perth's dealership... they didn't have the updated version as seen in this article.... but the dealerman insisted that yes, the new shape vRS will have folding mirrors as do the standard Elegance models etc have them and says the new one will too as the electronic brochure he sent me a week ago says it does....
  • riki says,
    5 years ago
    is very god cars favorit 2009 skoda rs
  • Jess says,
    5 years ago
    If they were just a tad lighter sub 1400kg. Or same weight but with a proper AWD drivetrain (not VW's haldex rubish) and at the same price I would buy one without even thinking about it.
  • Selurs says,
    5 years ago
    @MattJ - The Perth dealer also told me that the Xenon's are standard...which they're not, so I would take what they say with a fairly large grain of salt.
  • Jarrett says,
    5 years ago
    Are the dark wheels on the black sedan available through a dealer or have they been specifcally painted for Skoda Australia's show car?
  • Jake02 says,
    5 years ago
    MattJ and Steane - thanks for the help(Y)

    Jarrett - black wheels/black sedan??? If you mean the RS-P then yes I think they maybe available through Skoda dealers, if not I'm sure it could be a DIY job! laugh
  • jarrett says,
    5 years ago
    Thanks Jake,

    I actually rang the dealer since I'm waiting on one to arrive.

    They can supply the wheels for me to DIY but the black ones were specially done for the launch. the photo I was referring to was the black sedan in front of the red helicopter in the gallery section.
  • Jess says,
    5 years ago
    I too would like to know if those RS-P will be available as an option? It's not just the black colour but they are of a slightly different design and look much better. Does anyone know if they are available?

    Also the previous RS had a 4 star ANCAP rating, is this model the same or 5 star?

    I also noticed the manual times claimed are faster than the DSG (opposite to what VW claims for their GTI). IS this because there is no launch control on the Octavia RS DSG? Without launch control these DSG's are slugs off the line even EVO's with a twin clutch when not engaging launch control are total slugs off the line.
  • Jake02 says,
    5 years ago
    Jess,
    The black wheels are from the pre-facelift RS (of which I own) and apparently they maybe available from dealers. The safefty rating is officially 4 stars, but since the 2004 testing there have been a few updates, so the rating is likely to be 5 stars. And on the manual/DSG issue I wouldn't know as I own a manual sorry! I always thought that VW lied abit when it came to the DSG vs manual 0-100km/h times (I've been in a friends' DSG GTI many times and always thought that the shifts were fast, but not thaaat fast!) and maybe its Skoda whose to unweave their basket of lies?

    Sorry I couldn't help directly.
  • Jess says,
    5 years ago
    Thanks Jake. Yeh I looked at a few pictures of the pre-facelift Octavia RS and relaised the rims "Zenith" I think they're called are off that car. I much prefer the style of the Zenith over the new "Neptune" design. I wonder if anyone knows the exact colour they powder coated the rims on the RS-P. Looks like anthracite in a matt finish, but I'm not sure. Really like them though.

    I'm looking at picking up an RS wagon in white. Not sure whether to go manual (been a manual driver all my life) or go DSG. Sydney peak hour traffic is really bad these days, but I still enjoy quite a few drive getaways up the Blue Mountains and Hunter Valley, so I still want to enjoy a sporting drive.

    I'm still blown away by the size of the storage space on these cars. An FG Falcon is around 535L, a VE Commodore around 500L but the RS liftback and wagon are 560L and 580L respectively with the seats up, amazing.

    Yeh VW always claim the DSG's are quicket from a standing start. But Im yet to drive a DSG style car that didn't hesitate or bog off the start without some form of launch control being evoked, that includes the EVO X. Bit of a hassle if you want to get away quicky from a set of lights or something (having to hit swiches, bells, lights and whatever).
  • Jake02 says,
    5 years ago
    Jess,
    Well in that case (of you considering buying one) I would strongly reccomend it. I also live in Sydney, and the manual tranny is fine (not that I considered the DSG in the first place - its manual or nothing for me). I have the Zenith wheels, and while they're a bitch to clean, they do look good (equally as good as the Neptune wheels in my opinion)! I own the Liftback, but the luggage space is huge! Four adults + their luggage on a weekend trip to Turon Gates (near Mudgee) and my RS did without complaint. Th boot for all our rubbish wasn't even full so I can imagine how great the wagon would be!

    Oh and my RS Liftback is White, and I can tell you that White is the best colour available. Clean, crisp - you get to look at it, whereas other colours disguise the car somewhat. www.convinceyourbetterhalf.com.au is Skoda Aus' new website (of which my family features). Take a look - its worth it!
  • Jess says,
    5 years ago
    I was contemplating buying it in white also. Is the white a flat colour? metalic? or pearl?

    Jake did you get any option with it? The only options I would be looking at is Xenon lights, bluetooth and iPod integration (if available). I know you can specify Xenon's but not sure about the others.

    Also with the new model there is a "Front foglights with 'Corner' function" option. Do yo know what this is exactly? Worth it?

    I just think the white with some legal tints and Zenith rims in the same shade or black as on the RS-P would look just right.

    Thanks for the link.
  • Jake02 says,
    5 years ago
    Jess,
    My RS is completely standard (although I did get tinted windows about a month after I bought it). I originally ordered an Octavia Elegance 2.0TDI wagon, but my RS was just sitting there and I got it for only $1k more - a good deal I thought.

    If I wanted any options, I would've gotten the Xenon headlamps. Not that the standard projector headlamps are weak (they're not - they're amazing, especially at high beam!) its just I find the Xenons to be cooler! iPod intergration is available, but I wouldn't bother because an Aux-port is standard and does a just-as-good job. The White is a standard colour (it looks good, doesn't show dirt - so my car looked relatively clean in the Dust Storm - and doesn't cost anything! laugh) and I thought I had the 'Corner' foglamps but apparently not. If I were buying, I would get them - they look cool and apparently do help you in low-speed driving.

    The Black wheels/tint/White Combi combo would be good I reckon. In fact, it'd be stunning! Good luck, any more questions I'm happy to help (just click the 'Notify me of followup comments via e-mail' and I shall see!).
  • Slats says,
    5 years ago
    Hello,
    I too would like to know if the mirrors electrically fold in on the new facelift RS??
    The brochure is absent for this feature yet the 1.8TSI has this as standard.
    Have e-mailed Skoda.com.au now 4 times - no answer - dealer had no idea!

    Anybody know if the RS has this or not?
    Thanks

    John
  • backdoc says,
    5 years ago
    Just bought mine today! White RS wagon. Options include, DSG, sunroof, full leather and tow bar. I just sold my black golf R32 and I reckon the RS is nicer in the ***pit. Really beautifully put together. The tow bar is a bloody expensive option, almost $2000, and no after market....bummer!

    Only prob now is I have to wait until Feb 2010 for delivery sad
  • Jake02 says,
    5 years ago
    Slats/John,
    It wouldn't be a deal-breaker for me, but it seems that the RS doesn't get the electric-folding mirrors. I'm a fan of this feature (especially considering that I fold mine in manually everytime my RS is parked apart from in my driveway), and it shocks me somewhat that the Aus-spec RS doesn't get it (especially as it's at the top of the Octavia tree too!). But as I said, its an omission that isn't a deal-breaker for me (if it is, go for an Octavia 1.8TSI and option it with the bigger wheels, leather, parking sensors and bodykit to be on par with the RS specs).

    Backdoc,
    Congrats. You won't regret it! laugh
  • Jess says,
    5 years ago
    No automatic folding mirrors wouldn't be a deal breaker for me either, but it is such a nice option to have. If it's offered on other Octavia's in the line-up and offered overseas why does Skoda Australia delete this from the RS here?

    I hate to say this but dealers in Australia are very greedy. I was reading an article recently on how VW want to send the Sirocco here but VW Australia (aka VW dealers) don't want it because the price at which VW corporate want the car to sell here would eat into Golf sales. Reading the whole article (i think it was in SMH) I got the distinct impression that VW Aus was ripping us off when it came to Golf pricing and looking at overseas prices they definitely are. It's one thing to make a profit and another to rip your customers off. You notice when trying to negotiate a good price on a VW dealers don't budge, are arrogant and rude about it also, like they were selling a Lambo or something. I don’t get it. I guess as long as the wannabe yuppies keep accepting it they will keep giving VW Aus plenty of business.

    Back on topic yes folding mirrors are not a deal breaker by any means. Also I'm not sure if the car offers this function at the moment (I think it should be standard on every new car) but dipping mirrors while engaging reverse would be a great feature to have. With all these low profile bigger rimmed cars it just saves you from scratching your rims and allows to park much quicker I believe. It's just such a great feature.

    I've seen a pre-facelift wagon petrol manual with under 600K on the clock I believe for $33K drive away. Not a bad price, only problem for me is it's yellow. Just not into yellow at all.
  • walid onsi says,
    5 years ago
    Hi
    I got a new Skoda Octavia fantasia 2010 from 1 week . i have agreat problem with the mobile bluetooth system, how can i contact the Skoda Octavia warld wide office or e-mail .
    if you can helpe , pls. i need it
    best regards
    walid onsi
  • Bob says,
    5 years ago
    Hi,
    I have my RS lift back (Manual, Blue) over a year. Probably, I bought the first RS in WA. It was fully option at that time with Sat. and back & front parking sensor.
    It has been fantastic. I have installed reverse camera connected to the factory Sat and Parrot Blue tooth for hand free and music streaming from my mobile phone. The reverse camera will help for parking. If you have a factory Sat, you need an adapter for it to connect to reverse camera (I got it in Ebay from a seller in Holland).
    The sport sits are too hard, in summer when not wear much clothes, you likely have some pain in your back and ars. Go for leather if you can afford for it.
    Other minor problem with the manual RS is the Clutch pedal is too small and is too much further away from you foot compared with the brake pedal. When your shoe is wet in raining day, you will find the clutch pedal very slippery and as if your left foot is shorter than your right foot. I solved this problem simply by fitting a sport car pedal cover (from Supercheap) on the clutch pedal.
    Further more, the gear handle is terrible ( the gear is OK ), the guy reviewed this car must wear gloves when he tested drive this car. The shape of the gear handle is hard plastic and not smooth, which sure will cause pain in your hand after a long drive with frequent change of gear (Wear a glove !). I have not find out how to deal with this yet. Perhaps, change to an after market or WV one.
  • Wheelnut
    Wheelnut says,
    4 years ago
    Just read a letter in the latest issue of Wheels from a Skoda RS owner who after waiting over 6 months to take delivery had a series of build quality and reliability issues.
    However; unlike some I realise that this is most likely an isolated incident and doesn't mean that every Skoda is afflicted with similar problems.
  • says,
    4 years ago
    Does anyone know if the RS can be fitted with snow chains? Last week I went to Mt Buller for a day trip and Discount Ski Hire @ Mansfield refused to hire snow chains to fit my 2004 BA XR6 because I had 245/40/18 tyres and the standard 20mm lowered XR sports suspension fitted on all Ford XR models. Bloody frustrating how my ski habit dictates the choice of car I buy due to snow chain fitment. I'm not interested in buying a 4WD or AWD or SUV.
    • Wheelnut
      Wheelnut says,
      4 years ago
      Given that Skodas are from Czechoslovakia where it snows more than it does in Oz - you would like to think so..

  • says,
    4 years ago
    Does anyone know if the RS can be fitted with snow chains? Last week I went to Mt Buller for a day trip and Discount Ski Hire @ Mansfield refused to hire snow chains to fit my 2004 BA XR6 because I had 245/40/18 tyres and the standard 20mm lowered XR sports suspension fitted on all Ford XR models. Bloody frustrating how my ski habit dictates the choice of car I buy due to snow chain fitment. I'm not interested in buying a 4WD or AWD or SUV.

advertisement