Pros: good economy, huge space, effortless performance
Cons: not really a hot hatch
Skoda hasn’t wasted any time in rolling out RS versions of its fourth-generation Octavia. This time around, however, the fastest badge in the line-up is also available with plug-in hybrid power, complementing more powerful engines for the petrol and diesel variants. Here we test the latter.
Skoda Octavia RS Design
The Octavia RS has always stood out a little from the rest of the line-up, but, perhaps because of the introduction of the Sportline specification, Skoda has allowed its designers go even further for the new model. To that end, the RS exterior pack includes sportier bumpers front and rear, a black grille and lettering, black door mirrors and a set of flamboyant, attention-grabbing 19-inch alloy wheels. The Combi estate also gains black roof rails, while the two non-hybrid models sit 15mm lower to the ground for a sportier stance, thanks to sports suspension. It’s fair to say that you won’t fail to notice the Octavia RS.
Skoda Octavia RS Interior
As extroverted as the exterior of the new Octavia RS is, its cabin is as likely to convince buyers to reach for their chequebooks. It builds on the spacious interior of the regular Octavia with a wealth of RS-specific upgrades. Up front, for example, there are high-backed sports seats that look great and are wonderfully supportive and comfortable. These are upholstered in fabric as standard, but can be upgraded to a mix of tactile Alcantara and leatherette. Well worth the extra, we feel.
Along with those, there’s a sporty steering wheel with a perforated rim, a black roof liner, sports pedals and floor mats and plenty of contrast red stitching, complementing the special dashboard finish. A classy addition is the ‘welcome’ logo projection on the ground as you open the door. And, while the rear seats also look sporting, there’s just as much room inside as in any other Octavia, with a massive boot. The only negative thing we can say about the cabin is that the touchscreen infotainment system takes longer to start up than you would expect.
Skoda Octavia RS Performance & Drive
The diesel version of the RS gets Skoda’s newest 2.0-litre TDI engine with ‘twin-dosing’ to reduce NOx emissions as much as possible. In this installation it makes a meaty 200hp and 400Nm of torque, and it’s paired with a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox as standard. This combination is really smooth. The new engine likes to rev, and does so without a hint of vibration or harshness, and there’s good performance available across the rev range. Gearchanges are smooth and quick.
To augment the ‘voice’ of the engine, Skoda includes electronic engine sound enhancement that plays through the car’s speakers. It’s more natural than the description suggests, but it also sounds a little odd. You can switch it off in the Individual mode. Otherwise, the driving settings alter response to the accelerator, the power steering, etc. In the Sport mode it feels friskier, though it’s best to think of this car as a sporty looking long-distance diesel than a proper hot hatch. The good news is that the large wheels and low-profile tyres don’t completely ruin the ride comfort, so it’s brilliant on the motorway, so long as you can put up with a little more tyre noise than one of the most modest Octavias in the line-up produce.
Skoda Octavia RS Pricing
At the time of writing, thanks to the €5,000 SEAI grant, the hybrid version of the Octavia RS is the cheapest, at €41,215. However, come July this year, the grant will reduce by €2,500, increasing the price of that car to €43,715. The diesel is priced at €43,775. In fairness, they suit different driving profiles and usage. In terms of sportiness, they’re both outshone by the petrol model, though that costs €47,090.
Carzone Verdict: 4/5
Ever since a diesel version of the Octavia RS was introduced, it has had a strong following in Ireland. It mixes long-distance economy with a sporting look that doesn’t compromise on the Octavia’s core practicality. Granted, it doesn’t offer quite the same engagement as the petrol model, but not everyone can afford to buy and run that one. By any measure, the new diesel Octavia RS is a polished creation.