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Paul Gover road tests and reviews the Volkswagen Passat sedan and wagon with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch.
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Tim Robson road tests and reviews the Skoda Octavia RS 162TSI sedan with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
It's a minnow in the crowded Australian new car space, but we reckon those people who have bought into the Skoda brand don't mind being a little bit different.
Sure, the cars are based heavily on content from parent company Volkswagen, but there are enough touches of individuality to set them apart from the everyday, without having to compromise on performance, handling or safety.
|Skoda Octavia 2016: RS 162 TSI|
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Probably the most distinctive design feature on the Octavia sedan is the hatchback-esque rear tailgate, hinging from the rear of the roof to reveal a cavernous cargo space that belies its appearance.
The bluff, sharp lines of the stock car are enhanced for the RS, with the addition of a deeper, more aggressive front bumper that incorporate fog lights that also act as cornering lamps, switching on individually when the steering wheel is turned.
The driver and passenger pews are both supportive and comfortable
Bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights are stock, along with LED taillights that also add a rear daytime lamp feature.
A small spoiler on the boot lid tops a unique-to-RS rear end, spoiled a little by the thoroughly modern trend of oversized exhaust tips that don't actually attach to the exhaust…
The Black design 18-inch rims offer a good compromise between concept car good looks and real world practicality, too. Oh, and the RS rides 13mm lower than the stock Octavia on its MacPherson strut front/five-link rear suspension system.
The Octavia RS is a roomy, well thought out sedan that takes the best parts of its VW masters and combines it with a few unique touches; some of which work well, while some aren't so special.
The driver and passenger pews are both supportive and comfortable, and are mounted low to the floor. The flat-bottomed three-spoke wheel is a familiar sight on VW products, as is the large colour capacitive touchscreen that wakes up as your finger approaches.
The rear 60/40 split fold seat with two ISOFIX mounts can take three grown passengers with plenty of legroom, but the Octavia sedan's sloped roofline crowds in on rear head room for taller passengers.
That rear space can take a whopping 568 litres of load with the seats up – just 20 litres less than the Octavia sedan equivalent – and 1558 litres with both seats down. That sloped roof does limit certain load shapes, but it's still an astonishing amount of easily accessible load space.
For some reason, however, Skoda's interior designers think that everyone must drink espressos or energy drinks, because all eight cup and bottle holders in the Octavia aren't large enough to take regulation-sized sports water bottles, 1.5-litre bottles or a slightly oversized coffee cup. It's a surprisingly annoying blight in an otherwise cleverly appointed car.
The Octavia RS tops a three-variant model range, with the four-door six-speed manual RS 162TSI petrol sedan costing $37,890 before on-road costs.
A six-speed DSG gearbox is a $2300 uptick, while metallic paint is an extra $500.
The RS comes well equipped off the floor, with adaptive cruise control, auto emergency braking, Android Auto and Apple Car Play connectivity, leather/fabric sports seats, reversing camera, RS mode button, leather steering wheel and more fitted from the get-go.
Small door pocket rubbish bins and a rubber boot mat are uniquely Skoda additions, too.
However, the attractive sticker price is nullified somewhat when it comes to setting the RS up with a few more niceties.
A $1700 Comfort Pack nets electric heated seats, auto folding exterior mirrors and leather, while an additional $1700 Tech Pack is needed to score keyless entry, lane assist, auto parking assistant with sensors and a 10-speaker premium stereo.
As well, our tester came with the $500 Black Pack, which adds (unsurprisingly) black elements to the rims, mirrors and grille. Spend another $500 and you can score a set of 19-inch rims, as well.
VW's ubiquitous EA888 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine takes pride of place under the bonnet, and is rated to 162kW at 6200rpm and 350Nm of torque that performs best between 1500 and 4400rpm.
The direct-injection four-potter also sees duty in the VW Golf GTI range as well as in various Audi products.
A well-spaced six-speed manual is offered as standard – a very rare thing in a mid-size sedan in 2016 – while a six-speed DSG with steering wheel paddles is an option.
With the RS mode button in Normal, the ride quality is excellent.
The front-wheel-drive RS runs an electronic limited slip diff, albeit not the top-end Performance version seen on other MQB-platformed cars like the Golf R.
An RS mode button allows a driver to firm up the two-stage adaptive shocks, loosen the stability control a little and sharpen both throttle and gearbox inputs, too.
Rated at 6.6 litres per 100km combined, the Octavia returned 10.5L/100km according to the dash over our 360km test, falling to 8.6L/100km over a 100km inter-urban stint.
CO2 emissions are quoted at 154 grams per kilometre.
The 1417kg DSG-equipped RS prefers 98RON fuel, and runs a 50-litre fuel tank.
The Octavia rides on a wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) that is 54mm shorter than that on the similarly-equipped Golf GTI, and that figure adds a measure of poise and stability that changes the character of the powertrain bolted to it.
Though the 162kW RS carries a 53kg weight penalty over the 162kW GTI and its 0-100km/h time of 6.9sec is 0.4sec slower, the RS imparts a more solid and settled approach to its on-road demeanour.
The progressive steering rack from the GTI carries over to the RS, which again feels more planted and mature on a slightly longer, slightly wider car.
It' s lively and entertaining, and a little unruly.
With the RS mode button in Normal, the ride quality is excellent on the 18-inch rims and 225/40 R18 Bridgestone Potenza S001 tyre set. Bumped into Sport, the RS awakens, turning into a very competent back road companion that cossets rather than challenges the driver.
The front tyres can squeak and scrabble if you're too hard on the throttle, but the overall balance of the car is right on target for its RS badge.
It's firmly sprung and tightly damped, but not unduly so, while its roll stability is excellent. It' s lively and entertaining, and a little unruly when you want it to be, and that's part of the RS's appeal.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The RS is comprehensively equipped out of the box, with nine airbags, AEB, adaptive cruise control and reversing camera. It's rated with the maximum five stars by ANCAP.
A six-year fixed price service plan is available for the Octavia RS, totaling $2841 over the six years. Brake fluid and pollen filters aren't included in the annual service, though.
Skoda offers a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty as standard, with options to purchase an additional two years of cover. There is also a guaranteed buy-back scheme on offer.
The Octavia RS takes the best bits from some of the most proven performers in the wider Volkswagen empire and combines it into a quirkily unique package that is one of the best but unheralded everyday performance buys on the Australian market.
It's not perfect – the interior packaging won't suit everyone, for example – but it's clever, unique and affordable.
|110 TDI Style||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$19,360 – 24,530||2016 Skoda Octavia 2016 110 TDI Style Pricing and Specs|
|110 TSI Ambition||1.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$9,990 – 27,000||2016 Skoda Octavia 2016 110 TSI Ambition Pricing and Specs|
|110 TSI Ambition Plus||1.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$12,320 – 16,500||2016 Skoda Octavia 2016 110 TSI Ambition Plus Pricing and Specs|
|110 TSI Style||1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$21,999 – 23,990||2016 Skoda Octavia 2016 110 TSI Style Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||9|