- “How much does a 90 kg man weigh in Czechoslovakia?”
- “How much is 200 BHP by Czech standards?”
The first one is a trick question. The second one isn’t. If you’ve ever driven the new Skoda Octavia RS, you’ll know what I mean. You simply can’t relate the rather unpretentious number in question to the overwhelming quantum of power its latest 2 L turbo baby generates. The engineers at Plzeň have spent many lives tuning and fine-tuning the seemingly slight four-cylinder engine of the Octavia. Step on it first for a deceptively gentle thrust – soon to be thrown off guard as you push your luck a wee bit harder to unleash the 280 Nm of turbo-torque that has you roaring at 100 km/h in 7.3 sec.
Despite the meticulously timed gearshifts from the DSG transmission (Direct Shift Gearbox), the Octavia RS gives the pleasure of driving a manual car. What I liked about the RS is the way it grips the road. On its 18” alloys, it doesn’t get swept away by a sharp cornering feat or an accidental wheel spin. Sport enthusiasts who expect a hard drive aligned with smooth handling will not be disappointed. At this point, if your thoughts turn to a Golf GTI, think about this – you can lean back more in an Octavia RS with nearly ten grand left in your pocket!
More adrenaline. Less gasoline.
You can’t expect a power-packed turbine to be all too silent, can you? But I found this Octavia’s sound an auditory complement to the sporty experience. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about a constant drone from the rear wheel well that your back-seat passengers might disapprovingly point out. Chances are, the driver could still remain plain deaf to that, lost in the hum of his own adrenaline rush!
The best part about the RS is that it quenches your thirst for monstrous power, like some of the larger engines on the road, without itself being too thirsty for high-octane refreshment. Open the throttle on a turbo-spin and it laps up a litre for every 2 km but generously makes up on cruising speeds to return a highly efficient 9.5 km / litre.
Impressive build quality and styling
Sporty leather seats in carbon black, the rear spoiler and the strikingly red brake pads differentiate the Octavia RS from its more mundane 1.6 L sibling at a glance. To dispel even the slightest doubt, the RS badge is boldly flaunted at the front and rear, and the initials woven into the seats and door sills.
This Skoda has retained some of its old-world charm in the practical console and the turn-dial of the sunroof controls. Under-shields for the chassis, a rear window wiper, 6 airbags, and mirror defoggers spell out the care for safety detail that Skoda places, apart from its unflagging build quality. Skoda has also introduced LED running lights in its Octavia range, reminiscent of the blood it shares with Audi.
Some flexible innovations and a rigid cabin
The Octavia RS comes equipped with a front and rear Park Distance Control System and a sensitive set of anti-glare rear view mirrors that allow for exceptionally soothing vision in clear greenish light. Another great feature is the driver side mirror that doesn’t let you lose track of passing cars, leaving no space for a blind spot.
Something utterly unique about the RS as a transporter, only shared with the Skoda Superb, is its boot that goes all the way up taking the rear window along, unveiling a gaping space for cartloads – they call it the “Liftback” design. Between Audi’s Sportback and Skoda’s Liftback, the cousins are definitely here for design innovation!
However, despite the family-friendly features like the extra-space in the boot and ISOFIX seats, the Octavia RS will most likely remain a front-seat drive car. Taller members of the family might not be very pleased about having contributed an inch or more of their legroom to an additional extra-large travel-case they can stow away in the cargo hold. Add to it the firm drive, passengers with a less sporty temperament may well look up to the Superb instead.
Everyday features that help you breakaway
Octavia RS is designed to please its owner with his share of frills too – with space for a couple of cooled sodas in the dashboard or the armrest, auxiliary SD card input and a hands-free system with touch screen dialling.
Moving to the pleasure zones away from the one under the bonnet, you have a resoundingly sporty and young music system. Call in the lift-back mechanism to your aid, and there is enough free space at the rear to play DJ, with unimpeded access to the 12-speaker sound flowing from the cabin. Just tipping you off, in case you want to take your RS to an overnight party in the wilderness!
Sporty in every sense, the Octavia RS offers a playful interlude of carefree juvenile pleasure in the humdrum of mature family life.
Skoda makes a claim to its rightful place
The RS accompanied me on an errand at the airport, where I safely handed it over to the Valet. On my return, as I once again took charge of the keys, he announced that it was indeed the first ever Skoda to have graced the Valet Parking area ever since the launch of Terminal 3. A dubious honour for a brand that boasts the second oldest manufacturing facility in the world! (The Skoda factory played surrogate mother to many a line-up of Beetle when Hitler threw a spanner in the Volkswagen assembly works.) In fact, Shehzan, the Indian valet had instantly recognised the badge from its ubiquitous presence on his country’s roads. With the promise flagged in by the elegant new Superb and the sporty Octavia, Skoda can now hope to be a frequent visitor and familiar face in Shehzad’s holding area!
LIKE CAR. LIKE REVIEW.
Upside: Powerful sporty drive. Spacious boot with Lift-back design. Pleasing music system. Practical frills.
Flipside: Reduced legroom at the rear. Tyre noise could irk backseat passengers. Ride might be too rigid for some.
Picture courtesy: Ali & Sons/SJK
Drive courtesy: Ali & Sons