Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance 2014 review
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It's chips or straws, a toss-up between the petrol DSG and the diesel manual versions of Skoda's Octavia RS, due in Australia in March. The turbo twosome promise sporty motoring, VW Group quality, distinctive styling and, relatively, a discount sticker.
Backing the RS sporting claims, the badge first appeared on a Skoda 130 rally car in 1975, then was affixed to an Octavia 16 years ago. The maker is keen to uphold this connection with the latest crop, which doesn't overdo it on the exterior trappings the way some wannabes do. But for the plus-size alloys and red brake calipers, they could almost pass for Q cars. And Skoda reckons the RS will account for better than 10 per cent of Octavia sales.
We're guessing a low-mid $40K starting price (and will be wiser closer to the local launch). The Octavias - liftback and "combi" wagon - may not have the badge allure of the Golf GTI cousin, with which it shares everything under the skin, but calls to Carsguide's landline show that the badge sure has its fans.
The RS enhances the engines, running gear, interior and tech of what the Czech project guys like to call the "serial" Octavia, already a well-fettled item.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Variable ratio steering is a first in the Octavia line-up. There are xenon headlights and LED running lights, XDS electric diff lock, sports tuned suspensions, engine note enhancer and, in the wagon, a power tailgate. But what about the engines - 2.0-litre turbo fours with plenty more poke and, relative to the predecessors, substantially reduced thirst?
The petrol TSI (162kW/ 350Nm) is good for 6.8 seconds for the 0-100kmh sprint and tops out at 248km/h. The diesel TDI (135kW/ 380Nm) is the most powerful oiler in a Skoda to date.
Call it sporty space. Skoda works its customary mumbo with the interior packaging: there's a ton of abundantly accessible room (liftback 590L-1580L, wagon 610L- 1740L) within the slick profile and the windscreen pillars are slim and attractive. The Skoda corporate nose is more finely chiselled in this iteration of the Octavia and the bumper is set lower.
As for the rear, it won't offend Allah with its perfection. Spoilers are mounted on the boot lid on the liftback, tailgate on the wagon, not too intrusively - but they add to the busy assemblage of diffuser, reflector and visible chromed exhaust tips that jars with the Octavia's triangle styling cues.
The "black package" adds roof rails and mirro caps. Inside it's a suite of the same colour, either leather or fabric combination, the monochrome mitigated by silver or red stitching. The steering wheel, serviceable and tactile, hints at the parts bin of a cheaper line.
A special note on the colour palette. Grey with black alloys is the horn combo. European fitment is standard 17-inch alloys with optional 18s and 19s - the latter will be scratch magnets on Australian kerbs and kidney kickers on our roads for sure.
Five stars are a monte, given its antecedents. There are up to nine airbags, fatigue detection and brake assist, and beefier front brakes. The space-saver spare resembles a life-preserver.
The proof's in the punting. In the Czech Republic on the international launch, the RS line-up took on roads every bit as bad as Australia's busted blacktop, with the added obstacles of snow on the shoulders and road grime thrown up in the melt. The examples on 18-inchers soaked up the irregularities, showing superior damping. Skoda won't vary the tune for examples sold here.
In terms of response and balance, there was little to separate the petrol and diesel six-speeders; the former marginally quicker off the mark but with a drone at what might be highway revs here, the latter emitting a dull roar at Czech motorway pace but otherwise steadier thanks to the engine's extra mass.
Your RS will look good in this.
Skoda Octavia RS
Price: from $43,000 (est)
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo (162kW/350Nm), 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel (135kW/350Nm)
Transmission: 6-speed man, 6-speed twin-clutch auto; FWD
Thirst: 5.0L-7.0L/100km (est)
|103 TSI Ambition||1.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$6,700 – 10,450||2014 Skoda Octavia 2014 103 TSI Ambition Pricing and Specs|
|103 TSI Ambition Plus||1.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$7,700 – 11,880||2014 Skoda Octavia 2014 103 TSI Ambition Plus Pricing and Specs|
|103 TSI Elegance||1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$10,600 – 15,620||2014 Skoda Octavia 2014 103 TSI Elegance Pricing and Specs|
|110 TDI Elegance||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP||$11,700 – 17,160||2014 Skoda Octavia 2014 110 TDI Elegance Pricing and Specs|