Just a few weeks ago I was enjoying the company of a flashy blue Skoda Octavia 2.0-litre TDI model with 150hp, which I thought was ‘mighty’ fast as you can read in my review here. Then I turned the heat up a few notches and took the Skoda Octavia RS TDI model on test. This model belongs to Skoda’s Octavia RS family: the more performance orientated models in the popular, but relatively conservative Skoda Octavia range.
The Skoda Octavia RS comes in two flavours in Ireland: a 184hp 2.0-litre TDI diesel, and a 245hp 2.0-litre TSI petrol model. The Octavia RS has been updated in line with the rest of the Octavia range for 2017 – cue the split headlamps – but somehow the extra little bit of aggression these impart looks better on the RS model. Twin exhausts, full LED headlights, a spoiler, sportier bumpers, some big wheels (18” standard), RS badging and a red strip at the rear complete the sporty stance. It looks brilliant in Race Blue Metallic.
Inside, there are gorgeous alcantara trimmed sports seats, sport pedals, ambient lighting, more badging and sporty interior trim inserts. The Octavia RS comes well-equipped with dual zone air con, front fog lights, cruise control, rear parking sensors, reversing camera, 9.2” touchscreen with sat nav and in-car WiFi with additional SIM card slot.
Then we come to the engines. The Octavia RS 2.0-litre TSI packs serious power at 245hp with pricing from €39,865. The 2.0-litre TDI diesel model I tested has a more modest 184hp, but it’s of huge interest to the Irish market with a more attractive entry price (from €34,450) and is more efficient for day to day driving returning up to a quoted 58mpg.
On the road, the Skoda Octavia RS TDI is no mistaking a diesel, with a familiar diesel rumble, albeit a sportier one. There is also enhanced noise fed into the cabin and it’s easy to get a bit of roar when just cruising around town so the Octavia never feels just ordinary.
380Nm of torque means acceleration is always brisk, and the Skoda Octavia RS will hit 100kmh from a stop in 7.9 seconds. The Octavia RS TDI is available with a manual or DSG automatic gearbox, and 4×4 is also available. The DSG gearbox gives it a ‘grip and go’ feel, but is a tad hesitant.
The Octavia RS has a lowered sports suspension and the steering allows you to take a tight line through corners. It doesn’t feel as light on its feet as hot hatchbacks like the Peugeot 308GTi and Volkswagen Golf GTI. There’s a bit more lean of body weight in the corners but the enhanced feeling of grip and feedback reaching the rim means that the driver is never any way in doubt about who is in control. There’s a firm edge to the suspension damping but it never slips into uncomfortable territory.
While there are many desirable hot hatchbacks in this segment, with both Ford and Volkswagen offering diesel variants of popular hot hatches like the Golf GTI and Focus ST, neither could compete with the Skoda Octavia RS on space. The boot is infinitely practical at 590 litres and three will fit comfortably in the rear with large footwells.
The Octavia RS TDI is well priced, comes with lots of equipment and follows the Skoda tradition of being more spacious than any rival. This car has presence and you can’t argue with the additional economy that the diesel offers in day to day driving. The Octavia RS TDI will never feel as racy as a purebred petrol hot hatchback, but it’s a great option if you need a diesel car, but want to be thrilled behind the wheel too!
Model tested: Skoda Octavia RS 2.0TDI DSG
Price: €36,795 (RS range from €34,450)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
0-100km/h: 7.9 seconds
Top speed: 232km/h
CO2 emissions: 129g/km
Motor tax: €270 per year