Skoda Octavia RS
After years of leaving us drooling for the perfect Octavia RS, Skoda has finally given it. In an era where special editions meant stickers and a spoiler, Skoda surprised everyone with the First gen Octavia RS. It had different bumpers, larger wheels with wider tyres, lowered and stiffer suspension and although detuned, still 150bhp from a 1.8 litre turbo petrol engine. The car that followed it, the Laura RS was never really an RS. It had the same engine and power output as the regular Laura TSI, and you were left a bit short-changed for it. Now, the RS is back. And, it is the full blown 230spec version as sold in Europe.
The Mk3 Skoda Octavia RS is the new facelift with quad headlamps. The headlamps, however, have been given dark innards here; that makes the inner lamps look like they are part of the grille. You also get an aggressive front bumper, a spoiler and a nicer rear bumper with twin exhausts. The Indian car sits 15 mm higher than the Euro spec model, but is still 15mm lower than the regular TSI. We also get 17 inch alloys, which, though never as funky as the European car’s 18 and 19 inchers, still look good.
Inside, you get electrically adjustable Alcantara sport seats with generous side bolstering that are incredibly supportive and comfortable. There is contrasting red stitching everywhere and big RS branding on the seats. The flat bottomed steering wheel gets perforated leather wrap around its rim, and comes with paddle shifters. The entirely black theme of the cabin is spot on. The rear seats are set a bit low, but you do get good leg room and decent headroom. The Octavia, with its hatchback, was always practical; this one with its 590 litre boot space (1580litres with rear seats folded down) is no different.
The 2.0 Litre EA 888 motor is the same four cylinder, direct injection turbo petrol you find under the bonnet of the Audi TT or the Porsche Macan. It develops 227bhp and 350Nm which are channelled down through a 6-speed dual clutch transmission (DQ250). The RS is only available in India as a Front Wheel drive automatic, though you can buy a manual petrol and all wheel drive diesel if you lived in Europe. The engine is fairly smooth and drivable in town, in normal mode. The gearbox shifts up the ratios at a relatively low 2000rpm and the driving experience here is like that of a 1.8 TSI. Slot it in S and it becomes an RS. It blips the engine and darts forward eagerly. It revs till about 6700rpm and then shifts up with a great exhaust note. The crackle and pop of the exhausts alone will make you want to shift up down the gears. We managed to hit 0-100kmph in 6.67 seconds and there is a launch control to do this. You don’t get pushed into the seats as hard as the figures suggest, but the build up of speed is so addictive. The progress beyond 150kmph is what marks this car different from others. Top speed is electronically limited to 250kmph and you do get Z rated tyres which can handle that kind of speeds. On our roads, there isn’t another car in that price range that can hold a candle to this one.
The Octavia RS also comes with reworked suspension that is not only lower, but has better damping than the regular TSI. Where the TSI felt soft and less tied-down on undulating surfaces, the Octavia RS feels supremely planted. It also changes directions with enthusiasm, helped, of course, by the XDS limited slip differential which brakes an inside wheel for better turn in. You can feel the system working to keep a tighter line than you intended. The electric steering is very accurate at placing the 1418kg car where you want, but you feel it has a bit more feedback. The 2245/45R17 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres offer good grip and are a good match for the chassis. It is a very easy car to drive fast even with all electronic aids turned off.
If there is a downside to this engine, it is the fuel consumption when driving hard. The 230 state of tune is probably a little too rich and guzzles more fuel than could be necessary. We could have done 5kmpl or less when we tested it. But, you can expect between 7-14 kmpl under normal use. However, if you are getting anything above 10kmpl, you are probably driving it wrong.
It is very easy to justify buying the RS over anything else. The styling is modern yet conservative enough to go unnoticed at the office car park. It has enough space for the family and immense practicality in the form of a cavernous boot. It has the same chassis and engine as the Audi TT (albeit with slightly less torque) and is fairly fast. The automatic transmission makes light work of traffic and is very convenient. You get a decent amount of kit, including an 8 inch touch screen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, sunroof, LED headlamps, keyless entry and electronic front differential. It is also safe with eight airbags, ABS and ESP. At 25.49 lakhs (ex. showroom), it is only Rs.4 lakhs more than the regular 1.8 TSI and that is fantastic value. This is the perfect fast car you have all been waiting for.