The most potent, powerful and poised offering ever for the brand - that could well sum up the new 2018 Skoda Octavia RS245.
It is grunty and fun, yes - but the key elements that have impressed a lot about the Skoda Octavia remain: it can be had as a liftback sedan or ultra-practical station wagon, with a manual gearbox or automatic transmission, with a heap of standard equipment and safety gear, and all for a reasonable amount of money.
Sounds like it might also be the best car ever… Okay, that’s going a bit too far, but let me explain what’s great about the new Skoda Octavia RS245, and some ways it could be even better.
When I first saw the facelifted Octavia, I drew an association between its new quad headlights and the eyes of a spider. Sorry, arachnophobes - you may never be able to un-see that.
When I first saw the facelifted Octavia, I drew an association between its new quad headlights and the eyes of a spider.
It is undoubtedly less pretty than the pre-facelift model, but in RS guise at least it seems pretty well proportioned - and in the metal it’s a fair bit more attractive than it may appear on your screen.
The entry-grade models still look a little awkward, but the lower stance, sporty body kit and larger wheels - a gorgeous set of 19s, in the case of the RS245 - glue it together to be pretty convincing. In fact, in RS245 spec, I think the facelift model is better than its predecessor.
The lower stance, sporty body kit and larger wheels glue the RS245 together to be pretty convincing.
The standard LED headlights with LED daytime running lights add to the intrigue, and while I’m a huge wagon fan, the liftback sedan model also has a reasonably nice profile to it. The rear end design is almost perfect on the wagon, to my eye at least, while the sedan’s rear spoiler is a bit ugly.
Skoda absolutely nails the brief when it comes to magically making extra space in places where other brands can’t - and as a result, it seems as though the Octavia is much bigger inside than many of its competitors.
The back seat is easily roomy enough for three adults, even taller ones - there is ample leg, toe, shoulder and headroom on offer, and the RS245’s sportier seats make the back row particularly pleasant for the outboard passengers.
There are rear-seat air vents, and the middle part of the back seat folds down to offer a pair of cupholders. All door pockets have bottle holders, and there are map/device pockets on the front seat backs, too. Up front there’s a handy little storage bin in front of the shifter, and two shallow cupholders.
The Octavia range includes plenty of child-friendly bits and pieces, including three top-tether anchor points, dual ISOFIX points, and the boot light doubles as a torch - hey, if I was a kid, I’d think that was cool.
That boot space is massive, with the liftback model offering 568 litres of space with the rear seats up and 1558L with the backs folded down. The numbers are even more impressive for the wagon, with 588L (to the window-line) with the seats up, and 1718L with the seats down.
It seems as though the Octavia is much bigger inside than many of its competitors.
The back seat is easily roomy enough for three adults.
That boot space is massive, with 588L with the seats up, and 1718L with the seats down in the wagon.
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?
There are a few different choices you need to make when choosing your Octavia RS245, and each will determine the price you’ll have to pay. No matter what RS245 you choose, Skoda reckons you’re getting $6000 of extra value over the regular RS for a $4500 premium.
The most affordable version is the six-speed manual liftback sedan, which is $43,390. The seven-speed 'DSG' dual-clutch auto adds $2500, pushing the price to $45,890.
And if you want a wagon, you’ll need to add $1500 to that - making for a manual price of $44,890 and a DSG price of $47,390.
What about this extra kit, then? The RS245 comes with Alcantara and leather-trimmed sports seats with electric front seat adjustment and memory settings for the driver, auto-folding and dimming side mirrors, an RS245-specific instrument cluster and different door inserts.
On the outside you’ll tell it apart by way of its 19-inch black alloy wheels, black exhaust pipe outlets and some unique styling elements on the bumpers.
That stuff builds upon the already strong standard equipment list of the Skoda Octavia RS, which includes LED headlights with LED daytime running lights and tail-lights, tinted rear privacy glass, sports suspension, auto headlights, auto wipers, and adaptive cruise control.
Inside there are sports pedals, a sports steering wheel with paddles for the auto, LED interior ambient lighting, a 9.2-inch touchscreen media unit with sat nav, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, 10 years of map updates, USB and auxiliary ports, two SD card slots, and a 64-gig hard drive. Plus you get dual-zone climate control, a LED torch in the cargo area, an umbrella, three keys (which can offer personalisation in the RS245 for different seat positions).
Inside there is a 9.2-inch touchscreen media unit with sat nav, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity.
If that list isn’t long enough, you could option one of the brand’s packs. There’s the 'Luxury Pack' which adds lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, heated front and rear seats (it costs $1500), and the 'Tech Pack' ($2300) includes adaptive chassis control, advanced keyless entry with push-button start, Canton sound system with 10 speakers, automated reverse braking ('Manoeuvre Braking Assist') and automated parking.
See below for the safety kit list - it’s pretty long, too.
What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?
The RS245 is powered by a punchy 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine with 180kW of power (which is 245PS, hence the name) and 370Nm of torque. Those numbers are identical to the Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance Edition 1, although they’re helping move a little more weight in the Skoda’s case.
Even so, the outputs are 11kW and 20Nm more than the regular RS model, and it gets a different transmission if you choose the automatic version - the RS245 has a seven-speed dual-clutch, where the regular RS has a six-speeder. You can, of course, get a six-speed manual if you like, and all Octavias sold in Australia are front-wheel drive.
Plus, if it matters to you, the Octavia RS is quicker by a tenth of a second from 0-100km/h than the regular model, at 6.6 seconds for the sedan and 6.7sec for the wagon, whether you choose manual or auto. And the RS245’s top speed is 250km/h… handy, on Australia’s heavily policed highways.
The RS245 is powered by a punchy 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine.
For some context, the manual RS245 uses 0.2L more than the regular RS, but because of that new seven-speed dual-clutch, the auto uses 0.1L less than the ordinary RS.
We spent the most part of our time on a circuit on the New South Wales central coast, but our drive up and back in some regular RS models (featuring the finest rubbish traffic Sydney could throw at us) saw a displayed use figure of 7.4L/100km. Pretty good!
If only it was all-wheel drive. That’s my biggest issue with the Skoda Octavia RS. It would well be my perfect car if it were. I just like the fact that in AWD cars you have extra traction through corners, and you can get away quicker from a standing start.
Gripe aside, this is a pretty convincing front-wheel drive sporty car, one that offers more than a few reasons to consider it if you’re a fan of functional, fast and fun cars.
The Octavia is such a fun and surprisingly fast car to drive.
The extra grunt of the engine and the way it is put to the ground are the big changes - the mechanical limited slip differential means the RS245’s propulsion is cleaner, and therefore more rewarding, than a regular RS. If you power out of a corner you can feel the diff helping tug you out with limited wheelspin, and while there’s still some understeer, it’s entirely manageable.
That’s in part because of the inherent balance of the Octavia RS245 - even without AWD it feels really nicely planted, and after a few punishing laps for the Pirelli P-Zero tyres, it was clear that this isn’t so much a true sports car, but a very convincing sporty car. There’s a big difference.
The brakes performed well, but repeated harassment meant some fade was noticeable, as was some smoke and the always-pleasant stench that reminds me of an angle grinder. Mmmm, delicious.
The DSG transmission could be caught out at times, often eagerly upshifting to the next cog, even in Sport mode - but it was never that frustrating, because this isn’t the sort of car you’ll readily take to a race-track. And if you find a good, quiet stretch of mountain road, you’ll likely want to make use of the paddle-shifters, anyway.
Or you could opt for the manual, and you’d arguably be getting the better end of the deal. It offers smooth shifts and a light clutch action, making it easy to manhandle the RS245 in the bends. For me, I’d have to go for the DSG, though.
It's such a fun and surprisingly fast car to drive. I wish I could have had more time with it.
The 2018 Octavia RS245 offers more than a few reasons to consider it if you’re a fan of functional, fast and fun cars.
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?
ANCAP safety rating
The Octavia RS245 is packed with safety kit, including nine airbags (dual front, front side, rear side, full-length curtain and driver’s knee), plus a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, auto emergency braking (AEB) that works up to 210km/h, and driver fatigue detection.
If you option the Luxury Pack you also get active lane-keeping assist and blind-spot monitoring. Also keep in mind that every single Octavia from the base model up gets goodies including radar adaptive cruise control.
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?
5 years / unlimited km warranty
Skoda is offering a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty these days, which has no doubt played its part in putting the minds or plenty of new customers at ease.
Plus, there’s a pre-purchase capped-price servicing plan that you can add for three years/45,000km (intervals are annually/15,000km). That’ll set you back $1300, and you can add it into the finance package on the car if you want to.
Skoda includes complementary roadside assist for one year, but if you service your car with the brand’s designated workshops, you’ll be rewarded with free cover for up to five years.
I’ll take a wagon with DSG please. Oh, and yes, I’ll have it in red.
As you may be able to tell, I’m pretty smitten with the Skoda Octavia RS245. It isn’t without its faults, and it isn’t the best car ever, like the opening paragraphs of this story may have lead you to believe. But the changes to this top-spec model in the RS range are definitely worthwhile, and as a result it truly deserves its spot at the top of the Octavia range.
Would you choose sedan or wagon? Manual or DSG? Let us know in the comments section below.