Car reviews - Skoda - Octavia - RS range
25 Aug 2009
VOLKSWAGEN value brand Skoda has extended its facelifted Octavia Series II range with the inclusion of the higher-performance RS flagship just weeks after going on sale in Europe as the vRS.
Prices increase slightly over the Series I RS to start at $37,990 for the entry-level petrol-powered RS Liftback and to $39,990 for the RS-branded wagon. Both are up $300.
The increase is offset by improved headlights, which now include LED daytime driving lights as standard, and a revised dual-zone air-conditioning system featuring an air quality sensor and an improved audio system.
The 2.0 TSI engine can also now run on 95 RON premium unleaded petrol, as opposed to the previous models’ thirst for the more expensive 98 RON, diminishing the pain of the price lift.
Choosing the RS wagon adds $2000 to the price, while forsaking the six-speed manual gearbox for the Volkswagen Group’s DSG dual-clutch manual transmission bumps up the price by $2300.
The Octavia RS’s redesigned nosecone and front-side panels are similar to that of the regular MY09 models released in March this year, but a revised front bumper, foglights and lower air intakes serve to separate the sportier Skodas from their more mainstream siblings.
The RS also has new alloy wheel designs and sill skirts, as well as the body-coloured lower side body mouldings and larger mirrors that the remainder of the range gained earlier this year. The Liftback also includes a spoiler above the freshly styled tail-lights, smoother bumper and revised badges.
A four-spoke multi-function leather-clad steering wheel leads the cabin changes, along with different instrument markings, new air-conditioning controls, updated trim and the inclusion of a rear armrest compartment.
Buyers can choose Xenon headlights with Skoda’s Dynamic Angle Control swivelling functionality, along with a sunroof, front parking sensors, satellite-navigation (featuring a 30GB hard drive), leather upholstery and, in the wagon, tinted rear windows.
While the 2.0-litre TDI turbo-diesel remains unchanged, the petrol RS switches to Volkswagen Group’s new 2.0-litre TSI turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine destined for the sixth-generation Golf GTI.
It delivers an identical 147kW of power between 5100 and 6000rpm to the old RS 2.0 TFSI, while the 280Nm torque total tops out from 1800-5000rpm.
Acceleration from 0-100km/h is 7.3 seconds in the Liftback and 7.5 seconds for the wagon. Maximum speed is between 238km/h (Liftback DSG) and 240km/h (Liftback manual).
Conversely, the 2.0 TSI’s fuel consumption and CO2 emissions ratings are 7.7L/100km (DSG: 7.9L) and 179g/km (DSG: 184g) respectively, with no difference between body styles.
Meanwhile, the outgoing RS TDI’s diesel engine – released only in January this year – returns to take on the new (but significantly more expensive) 130kW/350Nm BMW 120d Sports Hatch, now that the identically powered VW Golf V GT Sport TDI and Renault Megane RS dCi 175 are no longer sold in Australia.
Using the VW Group’s latest-generation common-rail diesel engine technology that includes a particulate filter, Piezo injectors and a separate catalyst, the 1968cc TDI unit produces an unchanged 125kW at 4200rpm and 350Nm from 1750-2500rpm.
In both Liftback and wagon, the RS TDI’s 0-100km/h time clocks in at 8.4 seconds (DSG: 8.5 seconds), yet the performance diesel is still capable of returning 5.9L/100km (DSG: 6.0L) and CO2 emissions of 155-159g/km.
As before, and like the remainder of the new Octavia range, the front-wheel-drive RS sits on a VW Golf V-derived platform consisting of a MacPherson strut suspension up front and a multi-link independent rear end, electro-mechanical rack-and-pinion steering and vented front and solid rear disc brakes aided by ABS brakes with EBD and ‘Anti-Slip Regulation’.
On the safety front, there are six airbags including the curtain variety, tyre pressure monitors and lap-sash seatbelts for all five occupants. Tyres are 225/40 R18 ensconcing 18-inch alloy wheels, with a 16-inch space-saver spare.
Besides the Golf GTI, the Octavia RS must battle a growing number of hot hatch and performance car alternatives, from the Honda Civic Type R and Ford Focus XR5 Turbo.
No volume estimates are forthcoming, but Skoda believes up to 20 per cent of all Octavia sales will be the RS models, just as they have been with the previous model.
Diesels will woo up to about 50 per cent of all RS buyers, wagons 60 per cent, and DSG 70 per cent.
Wagons should account for over half of all those while diesel and petrol should be evenly split.
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