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Rapid Shifting: Skoda Octavia RS Wagon

Octavia profileThere’s something to be said for being the “little” brother or sister, in that unused and brand nwe stuff comes your way. With Skoda becoming part of the VW Group in 2000, the door was opened to taking advantage of the family lineage and sourcing from the parts bin, both brand new and “hand me downs” that are virtually brand new. Skoda’s undergone a resurgence, as a result and one of the key parts to that has been the Octavia. It’s a been a delightful week with the top of the range RS wagon, now in its third iteration.

Turbos and four cylinder engines go together like whisky and ice. Skoda’s married a turbo to a 2.0L powerplant to get a 162kW/350Nm belter, with pull from 3000 rpm like a shuttle launch. There’s a six speed double clutch automatic transmission attached and is programmed for Eco, Normal, Sport and Individual settings, accessible via a Octavia enginebutton in the centre console and shown on the touch screen in the dash. It’s an immensely usable combination, moves quickly and quietly through the gears in normal mode however the DSG’s mechanism does make shifting into Drive from Reverse a “wait for it” proposition. In Sports mode it opens the aural taps, allowing a growl from the engine to complement a more immediate response. However, even on a straight and long back road to allow a good clip, it required a manual shift from fourth into fifth and sixth only to have the computer to bring it back to fourth. Economy suffers, as a result. Skoda claims 6.6L per 100 km and that’s not unachievable if driven in Eco mode.

The Suit.
It’s an evolution of the previous design, with a somehow more integrated look. It’s a more tapered roll off for the roof Octavia frontOctavia rearon this RS wagon, looking less slab sided than the previous model, thanks to a creaseline along the flanks and in the lower doors, folding slightly inwards. The wagon looks sleek, sitting low at just 1465mm and it’s 4659mm long and 1814mm wide, providing a huge amount of cargo andOctavia wheelarm/leg space thanks to the 2686mm wheelbase, maximising internal room. The reverse moustache grille sits nicely between the edgy headlights, themselves supported by thin lines of LEDs. It’s angular, handsome and in a Stormtrooper combination of black and white, carries a subtle air of menace. Panel and shut lines are tight and there’s a reassuring “thunk” when closing the door. Roof rails complete the picture, one that would look well suited to your garage.
Alloys are unusual and a matter of personal choice, with brake dust quickly dulling the sheen. Rubber is Bridgestone 225/40/18s.

On The Inside.
588L of cargo room sit nicely within the wagon’s shapely rear with seats up. The lower stance of the wagon makes loading it up a breeze, along with the high opening tailgate. There’s a plastic strap hanging down, a surprisingly Octavia cargo hatchuseful item yet looks oddly out of place as well. The passenger side part of the cargo space has the subwoofer unit for the excellent Canton audio system; it’s clear, punchy and well defined in its quality.
Seating is fantastic; driver and passenger get sports bucket seats, with a red highlight and RSOctavia rear seats embossing, Octavia driver seatwhich are immensely supportive and not once felt uncomfortable. The black leather is enhanced with red stiching; it looks great and of a good quality. Getting into the right seat position to drive was easy; once done the driver is greeted by the classy looking monochrome info screen, a nicely sculpted steering wheel and the presence sensing touch screen forOctavia front seats navigation, sound and the RS options. It’s a beautiful workspace and roomy enough given the Octavia’s dimensions.
There’s plenty of tech to play with; the RS button glows red when pressed, there’s parking assistance and collision avoidance noises as well.

The Drive.
Suspension wise, it’s a ripper. There’s enough sportiness with a dash of compliance to suit most drivers that would buy the RS, it’s wonderfully damped and handled all speed bumps and off camber corners equally. It’s deft, adept and fun to drive. Torque steer is minimal but you can feel the front wheels loading up at times, mostly when coming Octavia dashinto a tight turn but there’s never a feeling of breaking away underneath. It’s a confidence inspiring chassis, as are the engine and transmission. It’s an almost perfectly balanced Octavia bootcombination, bar the turbo lag in normal mode and the schizoid desire to hang on to fourth in Sports. When wound up, especially in the Sports mode, the Octavia RS wagon, hoists its skirts, changes them magically into a red cape and flies. That metallic roar from the front excites and titilates, adding to the presence of the Octavia when used in anger.
However, that delay, sometimes, in selecting Drive when moving from Reverse, can spook the computer, especially when rushed and it’s an uneasy sensation, not one you want to experience when you’re in a hurry thanks to oncoming traffic. Economy was decent, ending up at around 7.5L per 100 kilometres.

The Wrap.
At just under $44K, with great luggage space, easy to access fun and a spirited engine/gearbox to motorvate you. Fit and finish is high, it’s a comfortable workspace and isn’t too hard on the eye as well. Skoda is on a clear winner here, thanks to big brother (or sister) Volkswagen.
For information on the Octavia and other great Skoda cars, head to

The Car: Skoda Octavia RS wagon.
Engine: 2.0L petrol, tubrocharged.
Transmission: DSG, double clutch automatic.
Power/Torque: 162kW/350Nm, @ 6400/1500-4400rpm.
Fuel: 98RON unleaded.
Tank: 50L.
Dimensions in mm (L x W x H): 4685 x 1814 (excl. mirrors) x 1452.
Weight: 1458kg (dry).
Economy (claimed), combined/urban/highway, litres per 100 km: 6.6, 8.3, 5.6.
Tyres, wheels: 225/40, 18 inch.
Cargo: 588L/1716L (seats up/down).
Price: $43940 (auto).