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Skoda Octavia RS 2009 review

The sporty RS, for Rally Sport, will continue to be available as a sedan and wagon — Combi in Skoda-speak — with the same 2.0-litre TSI petrol and 2.0-litre TDI engines.

VW Group Australia spokesman, Karl Gehling, says Skoda wants to lift interest in the RS locally, which until now has had modest success. Both the VW-sourced petrol and TDI units are proof Skoda is on the right track.

Exterior

What a difference a new grille and headlights make. Like the Octavia models, the RS benefits with some beneficial styling tweaks ahead of the A-pillar. The bonnet is more pronounced, thanks to some sharp crease lines and the headlights and grille look more purposeful. The honeycomb lower air intake also looks good.

As a result, the whole front end looks more dynamic and less conservative than the old model. The rear end gets new tail-lights and a more defined bumper.

Inside the cabin gets better materials for a higher quality finish, new centre console and heating controls, as well as a new three-spoke multi-function steering wheel. The heavily bolstered sports seats have new trim.

Pricing

Although we're still a few months away from the arrival of the RS, Skoda Australia expects the newcomer to come in around the same prices as the current car. That means a starter around $38,000 for the 2.0-litre TSI manual, topping out around $44,000 for the 2.0-litre TDI wagon.

Equipment

RS buyers can expect a 13mm lower sports suspension with stiffer spring rates, stability control, 17-inch Zenith alloys, boot spoiler on the sedan, sports seats and pedals, climate control airconditioning, three-spoke leather steering wheel and for the first time LED daytime driving lights.

Safety gear includes six airbags, active front head rests, tyre pressure monitoring, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake pressure distribution and traction control. A six-speed DSG gearbox will be optional.

Drivetrain

The engines and transmissions carry over. Volkswagen fans will love the silky 2.0-litre TSI four cylinder and 2.0-litre TDI, both of which are mated to six-speed manuals or the six-speed DSG gearbox driving the front wheels. Both engines comply with Euro V emissions requirements.

The TSI pumps out 147kW from 5100 to 6000 revs and 280Nm from 1700 revs while the TDI manages 125kW at 4200 revs and 350Nm from 1750 revs. The TSI gets 7.5 litres/100km combined while the TDI delivers 5.7 litres/100km. The TSI wins the acceleration stakes with a zero to 100km/h time of 7.2 seconds for the six-speed manual, while the TDI is not too far behind with 8.3 seconds.

Driving

Visually, the hotter Octavia benefits from the styling updates of the Octavia range but the 17-inch Zenith alloys really do set the car off. However, look closely and you won't be able to tell the TDI from the TSI. There are no badges to distinquish the pair and it’s only when you fire up the TDI that you realise it's a diesel.

On the road, the TDI exhibits some turbo lag low down, which is annoying if you want to press on or are winding through mountain passes. The trick is to keep the turbo “on-song” by selecting a lower gear and then change up early to use the available torque of the TDI.

Handling wise, the RS is bias to a predictable and progressive understeer. It's never a problem and most average drivers will back off before the understeer becomes a problem. Apart from the understeer, the RS has a wonderfully balanced chassis and will reward a driver who is smooth and in-tune with the car's handling and its limits.

The ride is firm but not uncomfortably so and at high-speeds on the Autobahns it was rock solid and the cabin quiet. Buyers will not be disappointed with either engine. But the TDI proves that it is more than competent to wear the RS badge of honour.

For more detailed drive impressions, see your Carsguide print section or check back here in a few days.

Pricing guides

$9,035
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$4,100
Highest Price
$13,970

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
1.6 1.6L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $4,100 – 6,710 2009 Skoda Octavia 2009 1.6 Pricing and Specs
1.8 TSI 1.8L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $5,000 – 7,810 2009 Skoda Octavia 2009 1.8 TSI Pricing and Specs
1.9 TDI 1.9L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN $5,200 – 8,030 2009 Skoda Octavia 2009 1.9 TDI Pricing and Specs
2.0 TDI 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP $6,500 – 10,120 2009 Skoda Octavia 2009 2.0 TDI Pricing and Specs