Skoda has added another quality offering to an already crowded compact performance segment brimming with hair-raising offering with an even more powerful version of its Octavia RS.
Skoda is looking to form a niche for itself by offering a compact performance sedan and - importantly - a wagon, adding some practicality to a segment dominated by hot hatches.
Vehicle style: sedan and wagon
Price: $41,490 plus on-road costs (sedan), $43,190 plus on-road costs (wagon)
Engine/trans: 169kW/350Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl | 6spd manual
Fuel Economy Claimed: 6.3L/100km
Skoda is slowly finding its place in the Australian car market.
The Volkswagen-owned Czech brand is still far from a major player but has found a growing audience for its cleverly designed and good value offerings such as the Fabia and Superb.
But its real strength has been the Octavia RS. The Octavia sedan and wagon are, by far, the most popular Skoda in Australia and 40 per cent of those are the performance RS version.
The Octavia RS is, broadly speaking, a Volkswagen Golf GTI in a Czech disguise. So its popularity is easy to understand in many ways.
So it’s also not surprising that Skoda Australia is keen to cash on that popularity with an even hotter version of the car - the RS230.
It is to the Octavia RS what the Golf GTI Performance is to the regular GTI.
- Standard Features: Dual-zone air-conditioning, electronically adjustable front seats, front and rear heated seats, auto folding and dimming side mirrors, power front and rear windows, ISOFIX points, font and rear fog lights, LED daytie running lights, RS badging, leather accented seats, auto tailgate (wagon),
- Infotainment: 8.0-inch touchscreen, naviagtion, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth
There aren’t too many changes inside the cabin between the RS230 and the regular model, but that’s not bad as the Octavia lives up to the high standards you expect from the Volkswagen Group.
The presentation is sporty and sophisticated with a black leather-appointed sports seats, a black leather steering wheel with red stitching and an RS badge and stainless steel pedals with rubber inserts.
Space is good in both the front and second rows, because despite being based on the Golf the Octavia has a slightly longer wheelbase and is positioned as a slightly larger model. Boot space is respectable for a car this size too, with 568-litres for the sedan and 588-litres in the wagon.
Standard equipment includes dual-zone air-conditioning, adaptive cruise control, navigation and an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system that incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Externally the RS230 gets several black elements to differentiate it from the regular RS including 19-inch alloy wheels, rear spoiler, door mirrors, front grille and exhaust tips.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 169kW/350Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbochraged petrol
- Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
- Brakes: Disc brakes
The bigger change for the RS230 is under the skin.
It has the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine as the regular RS but produces slightly more power 169kW (compared to 162kW) and the same amount of torque 350Nm.
The new ingredient that makes the RS230 really special though is the electronic limited slip differential, the same used on the Golf GTI Performance.
It helps transmits the performance to the road a bit better, reducing some of the tendency for torquesteer that can hobble the Octavia RS at times.
The other unique feature about the RS230 is it is only available with a six-speed manual transmission.
The combination of the new diff and manual gearbox make the RS230 a more engaging car to drive than the regular RS, but without dramatically altering its character.
It is still a potent front-wheel drive ‘hot hatch’ and that means it must be driven accordingly. Even with the new diff if you try and jump on the power too early out of a corner the front Pirelli P Zeros will struggle to cope.
Drive the RS230 smoothly though and you are rewarded with a nicely balanced compact performance car in either a sedan or wagon package.
The manual transmission will be a turn-off to some would-be buyers, given Australia’s preference for two-pedal cars, but it is a slick unit that is well matched to the engine; and suits the limited edition, hardcore image of the RS230.
ANCAP rating: Five-star.
Safety features: Nine airbags, electronic stability control, ABS brakes, emergency city braking, reversing camera, front and rear park assist, driver fatigue detection, multi-collison brake, tyre pressure monitoring
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years (option to extend to five-years, unlimited kilometres)
Servicing: Skoda offers capped price servicing on the Octavia RS230. Intervals are due every 12 months/15,000km. Over the first three years it will cost $1197. Skoda offers three- and five-year servicing packages that can be pre-purchased with the car and bundled with the extended warranty.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The most obvious rivals are the regular Octavia RS (which can be had with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic) and the VW Golf GTI Performance.
If you are willing to opt for a hatchback then the Ford Focus ST is also worth strong consideration. But if you must have a sporty wagon then the Subaru Levorg GT is the obvious contender.
Skoda Australia has only manage to secure 70 examples of the RS230, a combination of the sedan and wagon, but is pushing hard to secure additional cars because it feels confident the car will be a hit with buyers.
The sedan will be priced from $41,490 and the wagon $43,190 (plus on-road costs).
And it’s easy to see why the Octavia RS is so popular and why the RS230 should be a sell-out. Particularly in wagon form the Czech machine is an understated but seriously capable performance machine.
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