• LED headlamps auto adjust beams to suit speed, steering a...
    LED headlamps auto adjust beams to suit speed, steering and weather
  • 225/45 ZR17 wheels and tyres a great mix of comfort and g...
    225/45 ZR17 wheels and tyres a great mix of comfort and good looks.
  • Massive 590-litre liftback boot remains the Octavia’s str...
    Massive 590-litre liftback boot remains the Octavia’s strong USP.
  • 2.0 TSI motor jumps from smooth to savage when you put it...
    2.0 TSI motor jumps from smooth to savage when you put it in ‘Sport’.
  • Black and red theme fit the sporty ethos; flat-bottom ste...
    Black and red theme fit the sporty ethos; flat-bottom steering great to hold.
  • Back seat a bit low-set and short on thigh support, but s...
    Back seat a bit low-set and short on thigh support, but space is incredible.
  • Superbly cushioned Alcantara front seats will be comfy fo...
    Superbly cushioned Alcantara front seats will be comfy for all body sizes.
  • Few sporty bits on the sides and rear, but the exhausts a...
    Few sporty bits on the sides and rear, but the exhausts and spoiler work well.
  • Slick 8.0-inch touchscreen loaded with features like smar...
    Slick 8.0-inch touchscreen loaded with features like smartphone linking.
  • Engine stop-start can help improve fuel economy from this...
    Engine stop-start can help improve fuel economy from this thirsty motor.
  • 6.6sec: Our testing gear recorded a 0-100kph time 0.2sec ...
    6.6sec: Our testing gear recorded a 0-100kph time 0.2sec quicker than even Skoda claims.
  • 250kph: With enough road, the claimed limited-to-250kph t...
    250kph: With enough road, the claimed limited-to-250kph top speed seems easily attainable.
1 / 0
Rating 9 9

2017 Skoda Octavia RS review, road test

23rd Oct 2017 6:00 am

For every Octavia, there has been an RS variant. Better late than never, the latest version is here and it’s finally got the engine it deserved.

  • Make : Skoda
  • Model : Octavia

Affordable performance cars are finally catching on, and it’s important to remember that one of the pioneers of this sub-segment was the Octavia RS. We’ve had both the previous Octavias (second one was known as the Laura) and both came with RS variants. This meant sporty body kits, retuned suspension, better brakes, stylish wheels and wild colours, which caught on like wildfire with enthusiasts. However, there was a caveat – Indian RS models never got the ‘proper’ engine. The first car’s 1.8-litre TSI made significantly less power than its European counterpart, while the second car just used the 1.8 of the standard TSI variant rather than the then-new 2.0. And though the suspension was stiffened, it was just a basic retuning of the dampers. This time, though, it’s the proper Euro-spec 2.0 TSI motor with the proper output.

The engine in question is the 1,984cc version of the VW Group’s EA888 four-cylinder, direct-injection, turbo-petrol motor. We’ve seen it before in the Audi TT, which, like the Octavia, is built on the VW Group’s MQB modular platform that uses transversely mounted engines with front-wheel drive. Here, the engine produces 230hp at 5,500-6,200rpm and 350Nm of torque at 1,500-4,500rpm, sent through a six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox, and then through an XDS limited-slip differential to the front wheels. In Europe, there is the option of a manual gearbox and even a diesel engine, but neither is offered here.

Suspension, like with the Octavia 1.8 TSI, is independent all round – a MacPherson strut setup at the front and a multi-link setup at the rear. However, the RS has, of course, been stiffened up. It’s also been lowered by 15mm compared to the standard car, but it’s still about 15mm higher than the European RS. The other key difference is that the Indian car runs on 17-inch alloy wheels, which is an inch bigger than the standard Indian Octavia but is the smallest available size on the European RS that goes all the way up to 20 inches. And finally, one of the most serious testaments to its performance credentials are the tyres – a set of rather specialised Michelin Pilot Sports, measuring 225/45 ZR17 all round. The ‘Z’ implies they can handle upwards of 240kph, which they’d need to, with the RS’ electronically limited top speed of 250kph.

Of course, all the changes from the 2017 facelift of the Octavia have been carried over, most notably the new nose with its quad-headlamp setup. It looks more convincing on the RS as the internals of the headlamps are finished in black, making the ‘inner’ lamps look like an extension of the grille itself. The tail-lamps too have a smoked effect and, apart from that, you get an aggressive front bumper, a sportier rear bumper with dual exhausts and a boot-lid spoiler. What’s also on offer is the generous equipment list of the top-spec Style Plus Octavia, which includes a sunroof, keyless entry and go, adaptive LED headlamps, powered front seats with a memory function for the driver, eight airbags, hands-free parking assist and a super-slick 8.0-inch touchscreen with navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. A welcome addition, given the high-performance petrol motor, is engine stop-start.

Practicality is one of the Octavia’s greatest strengths and that stays unchanged here. You still get a massive 590-litre liftback boot that can expand to 1,585 litres with the rear seats folded. The rear seat is still placed a tad low and thigh support could have been better, but the space on offer is just massive. The difference here is that the colour scheme is all black, the seats are wrapped in sporty Alcantara, there are big ‘RS’ logos on the seats and red stitching just about everywhere, all of which really suits the performance ethos. The front chairs are really special; a set of generously bolstered sports seats that are comfortable and supportive at the same time. And finally, it gets the flat-bottomed RS steering wheel, with perforated leather grip points that feel great at your fingertips.

Two other omissions, compared to the European car, are adjustable dampers and drive modes, but they would have only driven the cost up. And, as it turns out, the RS is still great to drive as is. You can change the powertrain’s characteristics, like all automatic VW Group cars, by tapping the gear selector downward to select ‘S’. But while in most of those cars the change is incremental at best, in the Octavia RS, it’s like driving an entirely different car. In regular ‘D’ mode, it feels no different to an Octavia 1.8 TSI. Before 2,000rpm, shifts happen smoothly and gently, and you can barely hear the engine or exhaust. Annoyingly, as ever, the DSG does tend to hesitate quite a bit before kicking down a gear when you want a sudden burst of acceleration. Still, this is the mode you would want to use for the daily grind.

Set it to ‘S’ and you’ll really feel the RS come alive. This locks the engine in its strong mid-range, which means it almost never drops below 2,000rpm. Coincidentally, it’s somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000rpm that the sports exhausts let out a lovely snarl. It’s not too loud, but is raspy and aggressive – more so from the outside than in – with a delightful ‘braap’ sound on the overrun. The acceleration isn’t neck-snappingly quick, but it just pulls and pulls. We managed to crack 100kph in just 6.6sec – which is 0.2sec quicker than Skoda’s own claim – using the easy-to-use launch control system, and with a bit more road where that 250kph top speed would’ve been easily attained. In ‘S’, the shifts are a lot more aggressive and it revs all the way to a 6,000rpm redline. Put it in Manual and that limit climbs to 6,700rpm, although it won’t hold gears if you don’t shift up.

The real genius in the Octavia RS mix is the limited-slip differential. In a corner, not only does it let the outside wheel spin faster, it brakes the inside wheel for more aggressive turn-in and will even stabilise the car under power. It does a phenomenal job of quelling the understeer that’s typical of a front-wheel-drive car. And this one has 350Nm! Those grippy Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres also add to this, clinging onto the tarmac much better than any mainstream rubber you’ve ever tried. They do elicit a bit of noise in the cabin, but if you’re driving hard enough, it will be overwhelmed by the engine noise. Then there’s the lowered, stiffened suspension. It’s not firm enough to be called uncomfortable, and the 45-profile tyres have just enough sidewall to absorb sharp edges. Sure, it’s not as plush as a standard Octavia, but it’s not far off. In fact, on the highway, it feels much better tied down than the floaty 1.8 TSI. And in corners, the far tighter body control encourages you to push it a lot harder than you would dare push the standard car. Similarly, the steering is clearly a bit heavier now, but never to the point of being cumbersome.

Like other TSI motors, it’s your driving style that can make or break your fuel economy returns. Our instrumented tests were done in normal ‘D’ mode, with stop-start activated, and in an everyday, non-aggressive driving style; we recorded 7.22kpl in the city and 13.10kpl on the highway. However, while we were shooting and testing the car, we drove it hard in ‘S’ mode, and the numbers were far lower than those. Trouble is, this is an RS, and you will find yourself pushing it more often than not.

 

At Rs 25.48 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Octavia RS is no longer quite as ‘mass market’ as it used to be, but then you have to remember that a top-spec diesel Octavia already costs nearly Rs 24 lakh these days; so it’s really not much of a stretch. And that’s before you’ve factored in the strong performance from the 230hp engine, the super-quick gearbox and the unexpectedly sharp handling; you soon realise that this is a superb performance car by any standard. And like all previous Octavia RSes, it sacrifices very little in the way of comfort, luxury and practicality to reach its lofty performance heights. It must have been tricky to justify introducing an expensive, all-new engine to India, and also to get the suspension tuning just right for our conditions. And we’re glad Skoda took its time to get it right, because this is one of the best everyday performance cars we’ve ever had in India.

Testers’ Notes 

Gavin D’souza
The accelerator and brake pedals have a long travel, and the dead pedal is set much deeper inside the footwell; it feels very odd.

Shapur Kotwal
The way it pulls from 2,500 to almost 7,000rpm, with ever-increasing acceleration, makes it one of the best turbo-petrols around.

PRICE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Ex-showroom - Delhi Rs 25.48 lakh
Warranty 4 years/1,00,000km
ENGINE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Fuel Type / Propulsion Petrol
Engine Installation Front, transverse
Type 4-cyl
Cubic Capacity (cc) 1984cc
Bore/Stroke (mm) 82.5/92.8mm
Compression Ratio 9.6:1
Valve Train 4 valves per cyl, DOHC
Max Power (hp @ rpm) 230hp at 5500-6200rpm
Max Torque (Nm @ rpm) 350Nm at 1500-4500rpm
Power to Weight Ratio (hp/tonne) 162.2hp per tonne
Torque to Weight Ratio (Nm/tonne) 246.82Nm per tonne
Specific Output (hp/litre) 115.92hp per litre
TRANSMISSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Drive Layout Front-wheel drive
Gearbox Type Dual-clutch automatic
No of Gears 6
1st Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 2.93/8.304
2nd Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 1.79/13.59
3rd Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 1.13/21.53
4th Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 0.77/31.60
5th Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 0.81/41.59
6th Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 0.64/52.64
Final Drive Ratio 4.769-3.444
BRAKING Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
80 - 0 kph (mts, sec) 22.37m, 2.11s
EFFICIENCY Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
City (kpl) 7.22kpl
Highway (kpl) 13.1kpl
Tank size (lts) 50 litres
ACCELERATION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
0 - 10 kph (sec) 0.63s
0 - 20 kph (sec) 1.20s
0 - 30 kph (sec) 1.82s
0 - 40 kph (sec) 2.36s
0 - 50 kph (sec) 2.86s
0 - 60 kph (sec) 3.47s
0 - 70 kph (sec) 4.09s
0 - 80 kph (sec) 4.84s
0 - 90 kph (sec) 5.71s
0 - 100 kph (sec) 6.65s
0 - 110 kph (sec) 7.73s
0 - 120 kph (sec) 8.89s
0 - 130 kph (sec) 10.22s
0 - 140 kph (sec) 11.76s
1/4 mile (sec) 14.94
20-80kph (in third gear) (sec) 4.07s
40-100kph (in fourth gear) (sec) 4.73s
MAX SPEED IN GEAR Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
1st (kph @rpm) 57kph 6800rpm
2nd (kph @rpm) 91kph 6700rpm
3rd (kph @rpm) 145kph 6700rpm
4th (kph @rpm) 213kph 6700rpm
5th (kph @rpm) 209kph 5000rpm
6th (kph @rpm) 231kph 4400rpm
NOISE LEVEL Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Idle (dB) 39.5dB
Idle with AC blower at half (dB) 53.5dB
Full Revs, AC off (dB) 58.3dB
50 kph in 4th gear AC off (dB) 64.5dB
80 kph in top gear AC off (dB) 68.0dB
BODY Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Construction Four-door, sedan, monocoque
Weight (kg) 1418kg
Front Tyre 225/45 ZR17
Rear Tyre 225/45 ZR17
Spare Tyre Space saver, steel rim
SUSPENSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Front Independent, McPherson struts, coil springs
Rear Independent, multi-link, torsion beam
STEERING Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Type Rack and pinion
Type of power assist Electric
Turning Circle Diameter (mts) 10.5m
BRAKES Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Front Discs
Rear Discs
Dimensions Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Length 4689mm
Width (mm) 1814mm
Height 1496mm
Wheel base 2679mm
Front Track (mm) 1535mm
Rear Track (mm) 1544mm
Rear Interior Width (mm) 1380mm
Ground Clerance (mm) 141mm
Boot Capacity (Lts) 590 litres
2017 Skoda Octavia RS review, road test
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