2014 Skoda Octavia RS 162TSI review
Isaac Bober’s 2014 Skoda Octavia RS 162TSI review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and rating.
SKODA CONTINUES to fly under the radar for most, but savvy buyers can recognise a bargain when they see one. See, the recently launched 2014 Octavia RS is a clever mixture of Volkswagen Golf GTI running gear, spacious body (in either hatchback or wagon trim) and reasonable pricing – from $38,140 (+ORC).
While this generation Octavia RS was only launched in 2014, the 2015 model-year variant was updated in October 2014 to feature a reversing camera and new cost-options, making the Octavia in general and also this RS version an even more attractive proposition
ON THE OUTSIDE
It’s amazing how a few small tucks and tweaks can make such a difference – ask Paul Hogan. The Octavia RS has gained a bolder front bumper, bigger wheels and a larger rear wing on both the sedan and the wagon when compared with its garden-variety siblings.
That doesn’t sound much, but it gives the Skoda a much more cohesive and resolved design. The sedan is actually a hatchback masquerading as a sedan and despite being a little anonymous has the sort of inoffensive shape that gets those after an under-the-radar performance car all excited. The wagon (accounting for 70% of RS sales) unlike the previous-generation which carried styling cues from the early Audi RS4 wagons, now manages to blend into the background while still carrying a bit of aggression in its shape. And it delivers a huge amount of cargo space.
Seen from the side, the body is lower compared with the standard Octavia and, like the rest of the Octavia range, the RS has grown in length and width in comparison with its predecessor. The new Octavia RS is longer (sedan up by 88mm, wagon 86mm longer) and 45mm wider than the previous Octavia with an increased wheel base by 102mm.
More than just a cosmetic improvement, the new Octavia RS features plenty of weight-saving measures to improve its fuel consumption and drivability. For instance, the rear multi-link axle was tweaked and has dropped from 53kg to 49kg via the use of lightweight but high strength steels. The front MacPherson axle has been redesigned and is lighter too by 2.8kg.
ON THE INSIDE
It wears an RS badge, so the interior gets a sporty theme. Sports seats get red contrast stitching and faux carbon fibre highlights in the door trims. Black headlining and stainless steel sports pedal complete the look, reinforced by RS branding on the seats, steering wheel and gear selector. There’s an 8.0-inch touchscreen with standard sat nav plus the nice touch of opening a menu when it senses a finger approaching. The centre stack is a little plain but ergonomics are exemplary.
The Octavia RS is a considerably more practical proposition than its Golf GTI sibling of not quite the same, philosophically, as that out-and-out hot hatch. Cargo space is huge and even the back seat has acceptable space. As a car for people with younger children, it is nigh on ideal. With the option of a wagon, practicality is further enhanced. The Skoda gets some nice touches such as a little rubbish bin in the door pocket and a mobile phone holder that sits in the centre console.
Like the rest of the range, the Octavia RS offers more interior length (1,782 mm) and more legroom (73 mm). The RS sedan’s boot volume has grown by eight litres to 568 litres, compared to the previous Octavia. With a total of 588 litres, the Wagon RS offers even more storage volume.
The front sports seats are comfortable and supportive when pressing on long-distance drives, and there’s plenty of room in the back for three adults. And, if you’ve got kids, like me, then you’ll find there’s an impressive amount of room for carrying two child seats. There’s a huge amount of rear seat legroom that betters cars in the segment above, and it certainly betters the more compact Golf GTI.
The Octavia shares the same 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder as the Golf GTI with identical outputs of 162kW/350Nm, which is a 15kW and 70Nm increase over its predecessor. Available with either a six-speed manual or DSG (the diesel-powered RS only gets a DSG), the manual-equipped Octavia RS accelerates, in fifth-gear, from 80 to 120km/h in 6.4 seconds and, even in sixth gear, this takes only 7.9 seconds, 1.5 seconds less than its predecessor. Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h takes 6.8 seconds, 0.5 seconds less than before. This is just 0.3 seconds behind the current Golf GTI. Fuel consumption for the manual is 6.4L/100km.
Also available with a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder, the Octavia RS TDI makes 135kW and 380Nm, which is a 10kW and 30Nm more than its predecessor. It can run to 100km/h in 8.2 seconds, but it feels quicker than that on the road thanks to 380Nm of torque.
Torque delivery is strong across the rev range and this means you can hold third gear when pressing on, rather than toggling back and forth between second and third. The DSG paddle shifts encourage you to get involved. Perhaps the only place where the Golf wins over the Skoda is the soundtrack which is noticeably more exciting in the smaller hatch.
For the sake of this test, we’ll stick with the petrol-powered Octavia RS, and its 2.0L petrol turbo is a superbly responsive engine that is happy to rev, but doesn’t need to be thanks to the full 350Nm of torque (and it’s torque that makes a car feel fast) from 1500-4000rpm. The RS also gets the same steering as the GTI, with a taut two turns lock-to-lock, and while the steering is quick and direct and with good weight, it does lack ultimate feel. But, if this was a review of the Golf GTI then we’d probably complain about that a little more loudly, but the Octavia RS is more of a family car with pep than a hot wagon wannabe and for that reason we reckon the steering is bang-on for this car.
The Octavia RS also gets an electronic differential lock that works on the front axle and works to brake the inside wheel when cornering hard. Via soft braking on the inside wheel, allowing for more torque to be sent to the outside wheel and thus help with turn-in.
RIDE & HANDLING
The RS gets lower (12mm in the sedan and 13mm in the wagon) and stiffer suspension than the run-of-the-mill Octavias and is all the better for it. The grip is limpet-like, with the wide sports tyres hanging on grimly, and larger brakes keep it all well within control. The additional six centimetres in the Octavia’s wheelbase contribute to a more assured composure over choppy surfaces.
On the Golf, adjustable dampers are a feature, but the Octavia RS misses out but the passive suspension set-up has been tweaked by Skoda’s engineers and the result is a quality, comfortable ride across broken surfaces that doesn’t fall apart when pressing on, impressing with a decisiveness to the way it controls body movements that you might not have expected.
While Volkswagens are often held aloft in this price bracket as having the best quality materials and fit and finish, Hyundai has probably edged ahead. And Skoda is right up there with both Volkswagen and Hyundai in terms of the fit and finish and materials choice. Indeed, if anything, the Skoda’s interior and we’re talking the plastic and carpet, feels a little more robust than other cars in this segment, and that’s good news to buyers with children.
More than that, while Volkswagen has been afflicted with its DSG issues, Skoda managed to escape untouched. And, in all the times we’ve tested Skoda DSG models we’ve found them to be smooth and responsive (largely due to the use of six-speed DSGs rather than seven-speeders) whereas VW seven-speed DSG models can occasionally feel jerky at around-town speeds.
PRICING & EQUIPMENT
The Skoda Octavia RS starts at $38,140 (+ORC) for the petrol manual, and rise to $40,440 (+ORC) for the petrol DSG and up to $41,440 (+ORC) for the diesel. Equipment is generous and includes LED daytime running lights and tail lights, touchscreen navigation system, sport steering wheel and stylish 18-inch alloy wheels. Skoda’s capped price servicing runs for six years and service intervals are 12 months/15,000km. Extending the warranty to five years will cost $1650 and if you’re planning to keep the car for an extended period, this can be a very sensible investment.
The Octavia RS is high on safety with nine airbags and a five-star ANCAP rating. Front and rear parking sensors are standard, as is a reversing camera. Beyond this, it gets the electronic diff at the front and a raft of stability and traction control functions. A Technology Pack adds Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Front Assist with City Emergency Brake, Automatic Parking Assist, Advanced keyless entry including smart start (KESSY with alarm), and premium German ‘Canton’ sound system (10 loudspeakers and digital equaliser), for $1900.
2015 Skoda Octavia RS 162TSI
PRICE : from $38,140 (+ORC)
WARRANTY : three-years/unlimited kilometres
SAFETY : five-star ANCAP
ENGINE : 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol (diesel also available)
POWER : 162kW at 4200-6000rpm
TORQUE : 350Nm at 1500-4000rpm
TRANSMISSION : six-speed manual, optional six-speed dual clutch DSG
DRIVE : FWD
STEERING : rack and pinion
WHEELS : 18×7.5-inch alloy
TYRES : 225/40 R18
BODY : 4.69m (L); 1.81m (W); 1.45m (H)
WEIGHT : 1417kg
TOWING : 1600kg
FUEL TANK : 50 litres
SPARE : 16-inch steel wheel (tyre size: 205/55 R16)
THIRST : 6.4L/100km (combined)
FUEL : 98 RON
AUDI A4 S LINE AVANT (from $58,500+ORC). Cynical commentators suggest $20k is a lot to pay for a badge, since the A4 and Octavia RS are not all that dissimilar under the skin, but there’s more to it than that. The Audi is an altogether more luxurious car and less overtly sporting. But it does help to demonstrate what a bargain the Skoda is.
RENAULT MEGANE GT220 (from $35,490+ORC). The newly released Megane GT220 hatch (there’s also a wagon) is a cracker of a car. It shares a lot of its bits with the Megane RS and its 162kW/340Nm output from the 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine is almost identical to the Skoda. Another enticement is a 5 year/unlimited km warranty and the first three yearly services at $299 each.