Built on Volkswagen-Audi Group's (VAG) MQB Evo platform, the Octavia RS comes from a storied lineage. It shares many traits with its stablemates, though there are cues that set this car apart.
And no, we didn't make a mistake - this car is simply called the Skoda Octavia RS, and not the 'vRS' as we've been led to believe. The moniker is reserved only for the UK market - everywhere else, it’s just RS...even though the ‘v’ is still there on the badge.
But we’ll gloss over that. Confusing naming aside, that (v)RS badge has become almost a byword for value-for-money performance. Bearing that in mind, just how does the new Skoda Octavia RS stack up against its cousins? (Here's a tl;dr, this car is much of the same.)
The Octavia RS carries over VAG’s famed two-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged EA888 engine and it is as robust as ever. Skoda has further developed the engine for this RS to focus on efficiency while at the same time maintaining the same power output. So even though this will do 0-100km/h in 6.7s and keep pulling till you hit the limited top speed of 250km/h, you can still get 15.3km/l when you’re driving civilly. That kind of fuel consumption is no mean feat, especially considering power figures in the RS are still very adequate with 241hp and 370Nm of torque on tap. As in every other MQB Evo car we’ve driven, power is sent to the front wheels through the tried and tested seven-speed DSG gearbox.
The engine is torquey and delivers its power in a pretty linear fashion, although the gearing does seem a touch long which means that in the lower gears, there isn’t as much of a shove forwards when you hoof it. The gearbox itself works great, with shifts handled quickly and smoothly, it feels like Skoda has tuned it to sorta blend the gears together instead of just slamming them home for additional driving refinement.
In The Bends
Skoda has also updated how the RS handles corners. The RS now receives an electronic limited-slip differential as standard, and it works well. The diff manages the traction out of corners very well and in our use, we never once found ourselves with wheelspin on the exit of a turn. Being a larger, front-engined car, it did feel a little front heavy when blasting through the bends but it never felt too far out of its comfort zone.
The steering feel is rather dead and doesn’t communicate the level of feel that I would prefer but it does have a very quick rack, needing only 2.13 turns lock to lock.
The Octavia RS also features Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) similar to the ones found in the Cupra Leon and Golf GTI. Like its cousins, the DCC in this gives you a slider to fine-tune how firm you want your suspension and damping to be, as well as choose the sportiness levels for your steering, powertrain, and engine sound.And yes, you can adjust the car's engine sound. Thankfully, this is an adjustable setting because the engine sound of the Octavia RS is hilariously over-the-top. The exhaust itself makes very little noise but Skoda has elected - through the now common piped-in-through-the-speakers-engine-noise strategy - to give the RS the voice of a whacking great V8. The engineered rumble booms through the whole car and is honestly quite overpowering once the novelty wears off.
Our personal favourite configuration for the DCC was to have everything in its sportiest, with the suspension at its softest, and the engine noise off. With those settings, the Octavia RS is lovely to drive, supple and forgiving over imperfections in the road, yet with the immediacy I like in my power delivery for when I want to zip around town.
That brings us to the fact that the Octavia RS is actually a brilliant vehicle in which to go on a jaunt around town. The sports seats up front are comfortable with a healthy amount of side bolstering as well as being electric with memory and heating functions.
They do obscure the view from the rear seats a touch but we doubt it’ll be too big of an issue considering rear occupants have plenty of their own space to ride in comfort. The cargo space is also generous, with the boot (technically rear hatch) offering 600L of storage area for your stuff and the useability doesn't stop there either.The infotainment system in the Octavia RS is largely the same as in the Golf and Leon save for one crucial difference, this one has buttons. Skoda has very helpfully included physical buttons that serve as shortcuts to key menus so you don’t have to hunt through screens and pages to find your essential car functions.
The infotainment system itself is housed in a bright and high definition 10” central screen with the driver getting the brilliant 10.25” Virtual Cockpit display that serves as the digital gauge cluster. VAG-standard-parts aside, the interior of the Octavia RS actually feels like there’s just been more effort put into it in terms of design.There’s Alcantara across the dashboard and door cards as well as red accents throughout the interior. The seats are also upholstered in Alcantara and finished in a diamond pattern, with the RS logo emblazoned on the backrest. The designers were also given some extra freedom on the steering wheel which is one of the more uniquely laid-out ones I’ve come across thanks to the textured thumb-rollers on the spokes.The exterior of the Octavia RS looks good as well. For the most part, it’s understated and looks like a normal saloon. That is until you notice the red RS brake callipers, 19” sports alloy rims, and RS badges front and rear. Add the blacked-out front grille, splitter, mirrors, spoiler, and diffuser, and the Octavia RS looks far meaner than the non-RS model.In our opinion, the Octavia RS is a fantastic blend of sportiness with serenity, and is sure to be a great option for those looking for a sleeper. At S$209k including COE, the Octavia RS is also very good value, undercutting the price of the GTI and Cupra Leon by a healthy margin.
Granted you do get a little less horsepower in this than in the Leon, but we believe the added practicality is a decent trade-off. And if the saloon still isn’t functional enough for you, sit tight, because we have a hunch that the Estate version is on the way.If you want to give the new Skoda Octavia RS a whirl, you can head down to the Skoda Centre and book a test drive for yourself!
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Engine: 1,984cc Turbocharged Inline-4 Petrol
Fuel Consumption: 15.4km/l
Top Speed: 250km/h
Drivetrain: 7-Speed DSG Automatic; Front-Wheel Drive
Brakes: All-Round Ventilated Disc
Dimensions (LxWxH): 4,702mm x 1,829mm x 1,457mm
Fuel Tank Capacity: 50L
Boot Capacity: 600L
Dynamic Chassis Control w/ Adaptive Suspension
Electronic Limited Slip Differential
Wireless Apple CarPlay
Wireless Android Auto
Wireless Smartphone Charging
Adaptive Cruise Control
Alcantara Sports Seats w/ Electric and Memory Functions
Blind Spot Monitoring
Heated Steering Wheel
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