Volkswagen Golf wagon 2014 review
There’s plenty of room for the brood in Volkswagen’s Golf wagon.
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The Skoda Octavia has been given a firm shove in the back with the introduction of a new RS model. The third generation RS is the fastest production Octavia ever and is the culmination of 113 years of Skoda motorsport experience.
It's sold in Australia as a sedan and station wagon. Powered by a petrol or diesel engine, the flagship Octavia RS will roar from zero to 100 kilometres per hour in 6.8 and 8.3 seconds respectively, all the while bringing a new level of fuel economy and low emissions to the brand.
The latter draws on the Octavia RS's start / stop engine technology and brake energy recuperation systems of both engines, which are mated respectively with a six-speed manual or dual-clutch transmission, or just an automatic transmission.
Both the sedan and wagon have the looks to match the model's sporting ethos, something I found out while driving a diesel powered wagon with DSG, which comes to market at a touch over $41,000, before fees and taxes.
There is no mistaking the Octavia RS's intention, with unique design features leaving their sporting stamp on both sedan and wagon. Sitting lower on the road than the standard model, the wagon is longer by 86 mm and wider, 45 mm, with the wheelbase extended by 102 mm resulting in a shorter front overhang.
Central to the front end is a characteristic Skoda grille, air inlets with a honeycomb structure, a new apron and foglights in RS design, as well as new bi-xenon headlamps with integrated LED daytime running lights.
RS badging, duplicated on the rear, and stand-out red brake callipers, complete the sporty exterior. Inside is replete with similar pointers, including newly designed RS sport seats in a standard quality fabric and leather trim combination. Alcantara leather with red contrast stitching is an option.
Further markers include a stylish three-spoke steering wheel with perforated leather and an instrument cluster with a colour multi-function display, the RS badge again popping up on the steering wheel, gearshift, door sill plates, seats, and floor mats.
Clever features of the cabin include a door-mounted rubbish bin with removable plastic liner and a holder in the centre console that takes a range of mobile phones and portable media players.
The standard Columbus radio / navigation system uses an 8-inch high resolution touch screen with proximity sensors activated when a hand approaches the screen.
A DVD player takes the place of the CD player, and there's media connection including Apple video function, menu guidance, two SD card slots, Bluetooth high-end telephone function, voice control, a JPEG viewer and an internal 64 Gb flash memory.
ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
The 2.0-litre diesel engine can hold its head high among others of the ilk with 135 kW on tap at 4000 rpm and 380 Nm at hand from 1750 to 3000 revs, producing up to ten per cent more power while saving up to 17 per cent in fuel over the predecessor. Standard start / stop engine technology and brake energy recuperation systems put in their penn'orth here.
Over the years the Volkswagen/Skoda DSG double-clutch transmission has come ahead in leaps and bounds from its rather stumbling start. The six-speed version in the RS wagon is as good as it gets in automatic mode. Paddle shifts add little to the driving experience.
Standard fitment of newly developed active safety systems include the multi-collision brake with automatic braking action engaged following an accident, Passenger Protect Assist and Fatigue Detection. Front Assist with emergency braking is also available in an optional Tech Pack.
In a crash, nine airbags working with seatbelts help to protect driver and passengers from injuries. The upshot is the entire Octavia range now boasts a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
With the stop / start function in action the engine is fired up and ready to go almost instantaneously when you lift off the brakes - unlike some that jerk into action almost as an afterthought.
With the DSG transmission slipping smoothly from cog to cog the wagon went about its business quietly and efficiently, clocking up fuel consumption of anything from the low five litres per 100 kilometres to seven-plus in a mix of town and country conditions. However, beyond 3500 rpm, performance did tend to slip.
The wagon's relaxed going and precise handling can be put down to a MacPherson front axle with lower triangular wishbone suspension and a rear axle with a newly developed multi-link suspension.
An extended electronic differential lock, part of the electronic stabilisation control, and new progressive steering, imbue driver confidence when pushing the wagon hard.
Occupants are well catered for with more space over the previous model and an upgraded passenger shell and a suite of active safety measures earning the wagon a maximum five-star ANCAP rating.
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