Unlike last year’s limited edition RS230, the Skoda Octavia RS245 is a permanent addition to Skoda's small car family that adds more poke and equipment to the familiar Czech-built and owned sedan.
It also comes in the same specification in wagon guise if you need more boot space and a longer loading area, but we’re testing the liftback which is already well endowed with room.
The Octavia RS is something of a mature performance choice in Australia. Though early model sales weren’t thundering the brand has picked up momentum and with an engine sourced from parent company Volkswagen’s Golf GTI hot hatch, there’s plenty to convince the shrewd petrol head.
Vehicle Style: Performance medium hatch and wagon
Price: $43,390-$46,890 plus on-road costs
Engine/trans: 180kW/370Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol
Fuel Economy Claimed: 6.7 l/100km As tested: 9.9L/100km.
With the rear-wheel drive Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon well in the rear view mirror, Aussie-first buyers have some thinking to do. The Kia Stinger brings a new rear-wheel drive four or six-cylinder four-door into the mix but it is more expensive than the $43,390 (plus on-road costs) RS245, while the simpler all-wheel drive Subaru WRX is hotter but not as refined… and hot hatch rivals don’t offer the practicality of this Pandora’s box.
The Octavia here is something of a balancing act between hot hatch and family sedan, or wagon. It gets the Golf GTI’s 180kW (245hp in Czech-speak) and 370Nm mill that’s entertaining to drive but the rest of the car leans towards pragmatism – a big boot, modest appearance and spacious interior.
Adding 11kW, 30Nm and $4500 more to the regular RS, the 245 is the most expensive variant in the line-up but also the most potent.
It also adds a number of trim and equipment upgrades including 19-inch black alloys wheels, black exhaust tips, leather and Alcantara trim and door cards with RS245 instrument cluster, electric front seats and automatic folding mirrors.
While a little pricier than the less powerful RS the 245 also gets an electronic-differential to help the front-wheels remain planted.
If the liftback sedan doesn’t have the space you need the wagon is only $1000 more, and opting for the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic (tested here) over the standard six-speed manual adds $2500.
- Standard Equipment: Leather and Alcantara trim, electrically adjustable front sports seats, dual-zone climate control, rear privacy glass, auto-dimming rearview mirror, adaptive LED headlights, auto lights and wipers, 19-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment:9.2-inch touchscreen, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, Bluetooth, AM/FM radio, USB input, eight-speaker audio
- Cargo Volume:568 litres min/1558 litres max (hatch) 588 litres min/1718 litres max (wagon)
In-line with most European counterparts the Octavia has a reserved and clean aesthetic inside that won’t offend. The lack of character is made up for with Alcantara trim and a unique instrument cluster behind the sports steering wheel, but there’s no denying the Czech maker has gone for a safe and friendly vibe inside.
Materials are of good quality though: soft plastics differentiate surfaces from the usual hard plastic panels and trims, and there’s some Skoda-smart storage options, like a little rubbish bin that proved handy, integrated umbrella holder that’s as good for Melbourne as Europe, and mobile device holders inside the cup holders.
Cargo space is just as welcoming, and the cabin has been pushed out to provide 568 litres of space in the sedan which is just 20 litres less than the wagon. The boot aperture isn’t as big and loading length not as long with the seats down, but there’s plenty of room for carting a pram, sports equipment and awkward sized bits.
The seats upfront are slightly bolstered and sporty with good adjustment for the driver. The rear seats have good legroom and the magically proportioned interior doesn’t ever feel cramped despite the car being relatively modest in size for its body style.
Technology matches the well-set tone elsewhere and the large 9.2-inch infotainment screen offers a high-resolution display with crisp, punchy text and colours. It’s bigger than most and elevates the basic design elsewhere. Behind its face is a 64gb hard drive if you don’t want to connect a phone via Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or Bluetooth, and the usual DAB+ radio signal was strong.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine:2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol, 180kW @ 5000-6700rpm, 370Nm @ 1500-4300rpm
- Transmission:Six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, front wheel drive
- Suspension:MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear suspension
- Brakes:Ventilated front discs, solid rear discs
- Steering:Electric power steering
The RS245 might have the hotter Golf GTI powerplant but it doesn’t feel wound-up to drive, offering a good blend of performance and traffic acumen when using one of its three main driving modes. For the most part, we swapped from sport to comfort, but economy did shave 0.2L/100km off our original 10.1L/100km result – a touch closer to the claimed 6.7L/100km that’s only slightly higher than the base RS.
We'll put our hands up and admit that some of that high consumption was due to spirited driving.
Putting 370Nm of torque through the front-wheels is no easy feat and the electronic differential helps deliver some quick off-the-line acceleration. But there’s a little less huff closer to the 6700rpm redline and the 0-100km/h sprint suffers slightly, resulting in a 6.6 second dash that’s 0.1sec faster than the wagon.
While it won’t break records at traffic lights the flexible delivery of torque, delivered in full from 1500rpm, makes it a sharp tool on fun roads. And while the DSG auto isn’t as enjoyable as the manual when driving like that, it’s quick to shift and doesn’t suffer from being lethargic in traffic like some older models.
The diff has its limits though and there’s a tendency for the nose to push earlier than expected on tight corners but driven with patience, the Octavia RS 245 can heckle unsuspecting hot hatches on twisting roads.
Unfortunately the sound track piped in through the speakers sounds too artificial but it can be switched off for a modest and truer rumbling out the tailpipe.
Blending performance with manners, the adaptive suspension is compliant when slackened off, removing some harder bumps and the roar on coarse chip bitumen is well damped. Add in a well-judged adaptive radar cruise control and the Octavia is as comfortable on the open road as tighter bends.
ANCAP Rating: The Skoda Octavia has been awarded a five-star ANCAP rating.
Safety Features: All Octavia variants are equipped with nine airbags (dual front, front seat side, full-length curtain), electronic stability and traction control, ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, tyre pressure monitoring, rear park sensors, and a rear view camera.
The Octavia RS245 is also equipped with adaptive cruise control, AEB, blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Five years/unlimited kilometres
Servicing: Service intervals occur every 12 months or 10,000km (whichever occurs first) with
fixed-price servicing available.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The Golf GTI which shares the same engine is smaller and doesn’t offer the same practicality as either sedan or wagon. It is however a more focused machine if performance is top priority.
The Kia Stinger offers a liftback-style sedan with a similarly-powered rear-wheel drive 2.0-litre turbo engine, but it doesn’t come in wagon format and lacks some of the inside panache.
The Subaru WRX is a more conventional sedan with a slightly larger 2.5-litre turbocharged engine powering all four-wheels for a grippier, if sometimes frenetic, approach when wringing its neck. But its less impressive interior feels dated compared to all the cars here.
The Renault Megane GT comes in either smaller hatch or in-between wagon and offers a similar level of performance with its front-wheel driven 1.6-litre turbo engine and all-wheel steering. The styling inside and out separates the two acutely, but it offers similar price and practicality for curious shoppers.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
While it has its rivals the Octavia RS stable is somewhat unique. Sourcing finer parts from the Volkswagen closet its mature looks are well complimented with performance and features. The interior, particularly the infotainment and connectivity, is above many rivals here and for the pragmatic performance buyer it’s a smart choice.
- Interested in buying SKODA Octavia? Visit our SKODA showroom for more information.