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Dublin: 8 °C Monday 30 March, 2020
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The Skoda Octavia RS is a car for those who want pace as well as space

We test the Skoda Octavia in sporty RS guise.

Image: Dave Humphreys

THIS IS THE ubiquitous Skoda Octavia in sporty RS guise. It is built on the same platform as the Volkswagen Golf and SEAT Leon, although with the Octavia it is stretched to maximum capacity.

As with all Octavias, the interior majors on space, comfort and practicality, with room for all onboard and a boot that’s bigger than some estate cars (590 to 1,580 litres).

So, why would you want this RS model over a regular version? Well, the RS model is for the driver who wants pace as well as space.

Source: Dave Humphreys

So, the RS also gets its sporting credentials bumped up with plenty of go-faster styling to the exterior and the cabin. The RS also gets lots of onboard tech and connectivity, a brilliant 9.2-inch infotainment system with sat-nav and a whole host of safety features too.

But it’s not just the cosmetic differences that make this car more performance oriented, there are some mechanical ones too.

Source: Dave Humphreys

It is powered by the most potent diesel engine you can have in an Octavia, a 184hp 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder unit, the same as the Golf GTD. When paired with the six-speed manual gearbox it costs €200 a year to tax. It also has decent fuel economy too at a claimed 4.5 litres/100km (62.8mpg). So, if you want a fast, powerful, and economical diesel Octavia, this is the one to have.

Compared to the regular models, the RS sits 15mm lower, has larger brakes and a more sporty suspension setup with a multi-link rear axle.

This translates into a ride that is slightly firmer, feels more planted and is a little bit more fun at the helm but still easy to drive. It’s basically a grown-up way of going quick.

Source: Dave Humphreys

However, as sporty models go, the suspension isn’t overly firm – it’s still nicely tuned for Irish roads with a bias towards comfort. It does a good job of absorbing most lumps and bumps.

The lower ride height makes the RS feel more confident when cornering and the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with XDS+ electronic differential lock also helps improve traction when exiting corners.

Source: Dave Humphreys

The steering is more progressive and precise than the regular model. The driving position is excellent, the sports seats are cosseting and visibility is mostly good apart from the B-pillar, which is quite chunky and I had to strain forward when pulling out of junctions.

Source: Dave Humphreys

The cabin is well insulated from wind, road and engine noise but there were a few annoying rattles coming from the dash and somewhere in the back.

Speaking of rattles, the engine is gruff when cold but once warmed up the diesel is smooth and makes progress and overtaking feel effortless thanks to the 380Nm of mid-range torque. It’s impressive how quickly this thing moves considering it weighs 1,390kg. It’s fun too – it’s just a shame it’s so hard to test its full potential on Irish roads.

Source: Dave Humphreys

Overall, the Skoda Octavia RS is a commodious family hatchback made from the same oily bits as a Golf. It’s not as dynamic to drive as the Golf but it is a lot bigger and cheaper than a Golf and whilst the cabin materials may not be as high quality as the VW equivalent, they aren’t far off at this stage.

Skoda Octavia RS with six-speed manual gearbox starts at €34,450, which is roughly the same price as a Comfortline 150hp 2.0-litre Passat – but with the Octavia RS, you are getting more car real estate, more onboard technology and more niceties for your money.

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About the author:

Melanie May  / https://www.melaniemay.com

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