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Skoda Octavia 2022 review: RS wagon long-term

The drive mode system includes a configurable Individual mode - love the damper fine tuning! (image: Matt Campbell)

The Skoda Octavia is known for being one of the most well-rounded cars on the market, but is the RS variant sporty as well as smart? Matt Campbell has taken on the ownership of a 2022 Skoda Octavia RS wagon to see whether it works as a family car while also offering some fun.

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Part 1, June 2021

Talk about a crazy press car collection.

The day I went to pick up my new Skoda Octavia RS wagon long-term loan car was also the day I became a dad.

My partner Gemma was at home organising some stuff in the nursery while I was out filming the farewell video for my last long-termer, the Hyundai Venue. Our videographer Sam and I finished the job in quick time, then he helped me move some stuff to a storage shed nearby, because he’s a great bloke.

After that, he dropped me to Volkswagen Group Australia’s head office in southwestern Sydney, about 45 minutes from my house. It was there that Gemma called me and said I’d better get home quick. 

Read more about the Skoda Octavia

Of course I obeyed the law on my way home, thinking “nah it can’t possibly be the baby, she’s almost a month early!” while also barely getting to grips with the settings and stuff in the Skoda. 

I pulled into the driveway, grabbed a quick photo of the car, and we hustled to pack an emergency bag (hadn’t even done that yet!) and get back into the car to drive to the hospital. Four hours later, I was a dad, Gemma was a mum, Eliska was a daughter and the Skoda Octavia RS was a true long-term ‘family car’.

The day I went to pick up my new Skoda Octavia RS wagon long-term loan car was also the day I became a dad. The day I went to pick up my new Skoda Octavia RS wagon long-term loan car was also the day I became a dad.

The idea behind getting a Skoda Octavia RS was that it would be exactly that - a family sled for the three of us and our two dogs. I even got Skoda Australia’s team to fit a genuine cargo box on top, in order to store the smelly dog stuff (their beds and food and so on) for longer trips, with the idea being that it would no doubt double as a spot for smelly nappies if no bins were nearby on road-trips, too.

Admittedly I was probably getting ahead of myself, thinking about the movements of a family with a six-month old rather than a six-hour old, but that doesn’t mean we won’t do a long drive in the RS by the end of this loan (lockdowns in NSW permitting).

Over the next six months I plan to assess just how easy the car is to live with, having being sincerely stoked with its all-round abilities when I drove it for the launch event a few months ago.

I’ll assess whether it stacks up on value first, because for some, this is going to be “too expensive for a Skoda”, especially one that isn’t an SUV.

Is this wagon too expensive for a Skoda? Is this wagon too expensive for a Skoda?

Why? Because the Octavia RS wagon is priced at $49,090 plus on-road costs. Skoda is promoting a $52,990 drive-away price for the wagon, but that’s for a white one with no options. That price has gone up since we first collected the car, though nothing has changed spec-wise for the wagon - read our 2022 Skoda Octavia pricing and specs story here.

“My” long-termer has a few boxes ticked, including the RS Premium Pack ($6500) that includes things that I’ve already fallen in love with: the adaptive chassis control adjustable suspensions teamed to the drive mode selector means it can be supple or sporty, depending on what you need.

The Octavia is known for being one of the most well-rounded cars on the market. The Octavia is known for being one of the most well-rounded cars on the market.

That pack also includes electric front seat adjustment, heated front seats and heated rear outboard seats, driver’s seat massage function (ooh, haven’t tried that yet!), a head-up display, semi-autonomous parking (haven’t tested it yet either), tri-zone climate control meaning there are rear temp settings as well as adjustable vents, and rear sunblinds, which are an excellent inclusion, even if they do seem a little thin to offer any serious sun protection.

Plus because the RS I have is the wagon, it is available with a sunroof ($1900), which I personally wouldn’t bother with.

The other item you’ll notice (especially if you look through the glass roof) is the Skoda genuine roof cargo box, which has a retail price of $1120 fitted, plus you need to get the roof racks / cross bars ($517 fitted).

Featuring a Skoda genuine roof cargo box. Featuring a Skoda genuine roof cargo box.

We’ll see if we actually get a chance to do any road trips later in the year, because the pandemic seems to have other thoughts on mobility for people in the Greater Sydney area.

You’ll spot the familiar face of CarsGuide editor Mal Flynn in these images, as Mal lives around the corner from me and - having not had a kid before and having only a hint of an understanding as to how to correctly fit a child seat - I called on his expertise to fit the seat to the Skoda. Mal has three kids under four, so he’s at “Expert Level” for this job! This was on day two of my “ownership” of the Skoda - I made a mercy dash home from the hospital to sort it out! 

I called on Mal's expertise to fit the seat to the Skoda. I called on Mal's expertise to fit the seat to the Skoda.

What I thought might be better is the amount of space for the front passenger. With a rearward facing baby capsule fitted, there’s not a whole lot of legroom to be had for the front occupant. The wheelbase hasn’t changed between the last generation and this one, and while the back seat space is good for adults, with a baby seat fitted it could be better for front-seaters. 

With a rearward facing baby capsule fitted, there’s not much legroom for the front occupant. With a rearward facing baby capsule fitted, there’s not much legroom for the front occupant.

Gemma isn’t very tall (165cm / 5’4”), but still, she seems a bit cramped - the RS sports seats a bit bulky, and that might be something you want to consider. (For what it’s worth, we have the Nuna Klik Plus capsule, which may or may not be bulkier than other capsules.)

As it stands, the Octavia has been a solid family wagon so far. The boot is easily large enough for a pram, some luggage and other stuff. See the leaving hospital images and the first (maybe last, as we’re definitely on the shopping home delivery bandwagon now!) trip to the shops for an idea of the practicality it offers.

The Octavia has been a solid family wagon so far. The Octavia has been a solid family wagon so far.

In the first month we did a lot of trips to and from the hospital in Randwick where our daughter had a 10-day stay, going from there to home in the Blue Mountains a few times plus also running errands to baby supplies stores for stuff we hadn’t got in time (a bub arriving three-and-a-half weeks early really makes you realise how underprepared you were!) and we even put the roof pod to use. Very handy!

In the first month we did a lot of trips to and from the hospital and running errands. In the first month we did a lot of trips to and from the hospital and running errands.

Not so handy was the fact the media unit seemed to have a real issue with the wireless Apple CarPlay connection, glitching and not working at all with my phone at times. It has also failed completely when reversing - freezing the camera on a specific frame, or simply showing a black screen - and this is a more common concern when you jump in the car and want to get going straight away. We're all in a hurry all the time, so this could get on your nerves. We'll see if it continues to be an issue in future instalments.

Our first month of trips meant we went through two tanks of premium unleaded for an at-the-pump return of 8.77L/100km - a bit over the official figure of 6.8L/100km but a very respectable return in my opinion.

Stay tuned for more family driving impressions (hopefully).

Acquired: 31 May 2021

Distance travelled this month: 1005km

Odometer: 2474km

Average fuel consumption for June: 8.77L/100km (measured at the pump)

Part 2, July 2021

I love the fact that I can walk up to the back door of the Skoda with our baby daughter Eliska in her car capsule, and - provided I have the key with me, usually in my pocket - it will proximity unlock the back door without needing to reach for the fob. 

This has been one of my favourite features of the Skoda from day one - it just takes a little bit of annoyance out of the “let’s get going” sequence. Some other cars have auto unlock only on the front doors, others don’t have auto unlock at all. I realise now that, as a 'busy parent', this kind of convenience really does pay dividends.

I can walk up to the back door of the Skoda and it will proximity unlock the back door without needing to reach for the fob (image: Matt Campbell). I can walk up to the back door of the Skoda and it will proximity unlock the back door without needing to reach for the fob (image: Matt Campbell).

I also love the fact the boot has an auto release - you just kick your foot under the back bumper and it’ll open electronically. I truly appreciate that, and again, it’s another convenience feature that makes your life easier.

With hands full with a pram or bags or whatever, it’s great to just approach and not have to reach for a button on the boot. It’ll even do it in reverse - kick under the bumper to shut the boot if your arms are full. Nice!

There are elements of the car “ownership” experience you get as a parent that you simply don’t think about when you’re not a mum or dad, such as the ease of loading the capsule in and out, which is okay - but as mentioned in update one, there’s not as much space between the capsule and the front passenger seat as you might expect.

It may sound like a lot of faff, but if you’re considering buying a new car or SUV and you’re expecting a baby, take the whole capsule and assembly to see if it’ll work for you.

You might also want to consider doing a test nappy change. The Skoda’s wagon body means the tailgate load-in height is quite low, which is great for lifting the pram and heavy bags into the back, but it’s a detractor if you have to do an ‘on-the-run number-one’ diaper change.

The Skoda’s wagon body means the tailgate load-in height is quite low (image: Matt Campbell). The Skoda’s wagon body means the tailgate load-in height is quite low (image: Matt Campbell).

I’ve done it a couple of times now, and being six-feet tall (182cm) I found hunching over under the boot lid to be a really cramped and uncomfortable position. I mean, the boot of any vehicle is never going to be the best change table, but it’s better than the pebbly surface of a car park!

So you could say I’m seeing the appeal of an SUV, even after just a couple of months with the Skoda Octavia RS wagon. 

The higher load-in height of an SUV would make getting the capsule in and out a lot simpler, and the boot floor height as a mobile poop clean-up station would certainly make it easier for someone my size. 

But I knew what I was in for when I sourced the Skoda wagon, and I don’t necessarily think either of those issues are deal-breakers because the car is just so damned good in so many other ways.

I barely touched on the powertrain or driving dynamics in update one, and while the local lockdown in NSW has hampered our grand plans of road trips to see friends and family in the Skoda, I’ve done a few trips here and there in the local area to ensure that our daughter is cool with it. She usually is for an hour or so and then it’s the old “oh god is there a quicker way home” test.

The thing is, you can get where you need to go rather rapidly in this car. The 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine is urgent in its response. Just make sure you switch it to 'Sport' driving mode as it can be a bit more relaxed in the 'Comfort' setting.

The 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine is urgent in its response (image: Matt Campbell). The 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine is urgent in its response (image: Matt Campbell).

That said, I’ve typically been driving the car in Comfort, mainly because it softens the adaptive dampers, which seems to soothe the bub a bit, but also because it pipes less of that artificial noise into the cabin.

The extra bark is cool to show off as a party trick but isn’t as rad after a couple of months of living with it).

It also steers really well, with quick response and good feel to the wheel (heavier in Sport, if that’s your thing). But although the steering assistance works over 60km/h, I find it can be a little overzealous in its application.

The Octavia steers really well, with a quick response and a good feel to the wheel (image: Matt Campbell). The Octavia steers really well, with a quick response and a good feel to the wheel (image: Matt Campbell).

So, I've fallen into a rhythm when I get in the car of hitting the right steering wheel button (looks like a car with a forcefield around it) to enter the menu for the assistance systems, then the right scroller button to turn off steering assist, then again that assistance button to go back to the standard screen.

Anyone who has driven a VW Group product may also have noticed an annoying feature when driving on multi-lane roads.

If the car detects a vehicle in the right lane (say you’re in the left or middle lane on a multi-lane freeway), it will brake the car to stop you passing anyone on your right.

Now, if you’ve driven in any city in Australia, you’ll know our lane discipline is appalling, and it’s not unusual to find a slowpoke in the 'fast' lane.

But the fact the Skoda (and plenty of other VW Group products) will essentially stop you from passing up the inside lane, be it legal or not, is annoying.

For what it’s worth, it is not illegal to pass a car in NSW in the left or middle lane when you’re travelling at 80km/h or below, but it is illegal to be in the right lane if you don’t need to be

I’ve found the controls on the steering wheel a little confusing (image: Matt Campbell). I’ve found the controls on the steering wheel a little confusing (image: Matt Campbell).

I have to admit, I’ve found the controls on the steering wheel a little confusing - it can be hard to find the trip meter readout you want (and as far as I can tell you have to be in Drive, not Park, to see it?).

And in case you didn’t know, you have to have the cruise control deactivated to see the car’s odometer readout. Odd!

There have been no fur family impressions as yet. Our two dogs are down at the grandparents’ place in Cooma in southern NSW, and have been since our daughter was born (it’s a long story).

But I sincerely hope we’ll do at least one family trip with three humans and two mutts before I hand the car back in December.

Next update, hopefully I’ll get a bit more drive time in. Stay tuned.

Acquired: 31 May 2021

Distance travelled this month: 461km

Odometer: 2935km

Average fuel consumption for July: 8.12L/100km (measured at the pump)

Part 3, August 2021

Went for a drive the other day. That was nice.

Then I washed the Skoda. I enjoyed that, too.

That’s about where I could leave it for impressions for the month of August. The lockdown in NSW means there was no real reason to leave home unless it was for exercise or essentials. 

Washing the Skoda was one of the few things I could do while in lockdown. (image credit: Matt Campbell) Washing the Skoda was one of the few things I could do while in lockdown. (image credit: Matt Campbell)

My drive up the mountains (with my LGA limits) with Eliska, our newborn, was essential. She needs to get some seat time in the car to get used to it, and I needed to go for a drive to clear my mind. Anyone in lockdown, now or in the past or in the future – heaven forbid – will understand.

But while my August experience with the car on the road was limited, I did spend a bit of time getting to know it a little better inside and out.

I did manage to go for a drive within my LGA. (image credit: Matt Campbell) I did manage to go for a drive within my LGA. (image credit: Matt Campbell)

I used the wagon to get my bub her first Little Tikes car - yes, at this point she wasn't even three months old, but I found one locally that was being left out on the street for me, so I had to take it! I also did a click-and-collect at the local Bunnings and used the ski-port of the middle seat to load through some threaded rod and a new garden broom. Such thrills!

  • The ski-port came in handy for picking up a rod and a new garden broom from Bunnings. (image credit: Matt Campbell) The ski-port came in handy for picking up a rod and a new garden broom from Bunnings. (image credit: Matt Campbell)
  • I used the wagon to get my bub her first Little Tikes car. (image credit: Matt Campbell) I used the wagon to get my bub her first Little Tikes car. (image credit: Matt Campbell)
  • The Little Tike was left out on the street for me to collect. (image credit: Matt Campbell) The Little Tike was left out on the street for me to collect. (image credit: Matt Campbell)

One thing I noticed when I was washing the car was that someone had shunted the front bumper, presumably while parked at the shops, and that annoyed me.

So I’ve now fitted our winning dash cam from CarsGuide’s most recent dash camera comparison test, the Nextbase 322GW, to the Skoda. Usually it’s a bit of a fiddly or messy job when it comes to wiring up a dash cam - you typically have a cable that runs from the camera down to a 12-volt outlet, which more often than not is located near the media screen on the centre console.

Annoyingly, someone hit the Skoda's front bumper. (image credit: Matt Campbell) Annoyingly, someone hit the Skoda's front bumper. (image credit: Matt Campbell)

But, happily, the Skoda has a USB-C port hidden up near the rear-view mirror/forward camera sensor system at the top of the windscreen, meaning I just needed to connect the Nextbase camera’s USB cable (which usually runs to the 12V plug) to USB-to-USB-C adaptor, and the cable is tucked up out of the way.

It powered up when I started the car, and this Nextbase unit also has a clever system where if the G-sensor is triggered when it’s parked, it will fire into life and capture what it could see at the moment of impact. That would have been handy to have installed earlier, but so it was.

Other noteworthy considerations this month were the continued software struggles with the media screen and safety systems, which this time extended to the blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert system, as well as parking sensors all around the car, the reversing camera screen freezing and countless Apple CarPlay wireless blackouts.

  • We had issues with the blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert system.
(image credit: Matt Campbell) We had issues with the blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert system. (image credit: Matt Campbell)
  • The parking sensors were also playing up. (image credit: Matt Campbell) The parking sensors were also playing up. (image credit: Matt Campbell)

If I had bought a new car that had this many technical problems, I'd be really annoyed. I probably haven't been as annoyed as I could have been during this period, being in the newborn baby bubble at home and in lockdown, but on a regular basis these important safety and media features have failed.

It got to the point where it was enough for me to get in touch with Volkswagen Group Australia, the company in charge of Skoda here, to raise the issue. They rightfully passed me on to my local dealership where I was to be treated like a regular customer, and I have to say, the level of service was very good. 

More on that in the next update.

Acquired: 31 May 2021

Distance travelled this month: 329km

Odometer: 3294km

Average fuel consumption for August: 8.37L/100km (measured at the pump)

Part 4, September 2021

It’s been awhile since I updated you on my time with the Skoda Octavia RS - never fear, the car hasn’t been out of action, though it did spend a night at the dealership during September.

After raising my concerns about the reversing camera blackouts and warning systems intermittently disabling themselves to Skoda’s head office in Australia, it was arranged for my local Skoda workshop in Penrith, Western Sydney, to come and collect the car for analysis.

Natalie from Nepean Motor Group collected the car and left a loan car with me (a Karoq Sportline that I didn’t need, but it was nice to have it on the driveway just in case I did), and then took the Skoda down to the workshop for analysis.

It’s been awhile since I updated you on my time with the Skoda Octavia RS. (image: Matt Campbell) It’s been awhile since I updated you on my time with the Skoda Octavia RS. (image: Matt Campbell)

I thought it might be a day without the car, but it ended up staying the night with Skoda. That’s because the diagnostic tool detected a “relative sporadic code” for the reverse camera freezing. That issue carried across the media screen blacking out and the dash warnings showing up for the safety systems failing.

According to the paperwork, the software was updated to fix the problem, and in addition, the servicing team also performed a “service campaign” - a "recall without a recall" in other words - for the airbag control unit software. I'm glad that was seen to.

Under all of those line items on the tax invoice, the crucial bold type stated ***** Warranty Job *****, meaning there was no cost involved at all. And the car was washed and vacuumed before it was returned to my place in person by Natalie, too.

It was arranged for my local Skoda workshop to come and collect the car for analysis. (image: Matt Campbell) It was arranged for my local Skoda workshop to come and collect the car for analysis. (image: Matt Campbell)

Sounds great, and it has been. Mostly.

There are still some intermittent issues with the Apple CarPlay - simply, the media system, when CarPlay is wirelessly connected, seems to forget to play back any audio. So you can be listening to a podcast on one drive, get out, go to the shops, get back in and then the podcast keeps playing, but you can’t hear it.

I’d be so annoyed if this was “my” car, and I’d love to know if you’re an owner who has experienced this sort of issue - hit me up in the comments.

There are still some intermittent issues with the Apple CarPlay. (image: Matt Campbell) There are still some intermittent issues with the Apple CarPlay. (image: Matt Campbell)

Thankfully, though, the safety systems haven’t played up at all since, and while the months of September and October were still largely “stay at home” periods due to pandemic lockdown measures in the Greater Sydney area, the Skoda has proved to be a great runaround car.

A trip up the mountains to get a vaccination jab included a jaunt around the back streets just to get a bit of extra drive time in the car. And I also did a couple of runs to the shops - groceries, hardware and other - while making use of the shopping bag hooks in the boot and also fitting all of our daughter's "we're going out for a couple of hours" stuff.

During these weeks the Skoda also became the only car at home for a while. My Jimny was parked at a dealership while we had a different loan car, and my (now sold) Audi TT was in the workshop for about six weeks (old German cars - don’t!).

I also did a couple of runs to the shops - groceries, hardware and other - while making use of the shopping bag hooks in the boot. (image: Matt Campbell) I also did a couple of runs to the shops - groceries, hardware and other - while making use of the shopping bag hooks in the boot. (image: Matt Campbell)

It was around this time that I also had the chance to spend some quality time in the base model Octavia 110TSI Ambition sedan, which - at $34,490 drive-away - represents a $19,000 price advantage over the RS.

And let me just put it out there - the base model is going to be a better car for your needs. Sure it doesn’t have as many bells or whistles, and it might be a bit plain looking for some customers, but it offers such immense value that it had me second guessing whether I could fork out the extra cash for the RS, as impressive as it is.

Further, my partner reckons the liftback sedan looks better than the wagon. And I have to say… Nah, I still like the wagon more, but the previous-gen RS wagon was even better looking (pre-spider-eyes-facelift, of course).

In my October update, I’ll explore whether the RS-ness justifies the extra money.

Let me just put it out there - the base model is going to be a better car for your needs. (image: Matt Campbell) Let me just put it out there - the base model is going to be a better car for your needs. (image: Matt Campbell)

Acquired: 31 May 2021

Distance travelled this month: 232km

Odometer: 3526km

Average fuel consumption for September: 9.0L/100km (measured at the pump)

Part 5, October 2021

During October I enjoyed playing with the Skoda’s Drive Mode system - particularly the Individual setting, which allows you to adjust the adaptive cruise control system behaviour (Sport for me), steering (Normal), fake engine noise (Off), drivetrain (Normal) and the adaptive chassis control damper firmness. That last bit is the best, because you have a sliding scale of firmness available to adjust between. My preference is just on the sporty side of normal. 

It has become a bit of a default thing to do when I get in the car. If it’s me, my partner Gemma and our daughter Eliska, I select Comfort mode. That softens the suspension, makes the response a little less rapid, and mutes the artificial engine noise pumped in the cabin, too.

But when it’s me alone in the car, I’m more likely to choose Individual or Sport, because why not?

During this month I had a few fellow test cars in the driveway alongside the Skoda, including Ford Ranger Raptor X (which made sliding back into the low-slung Skoda like going from horseback to a go-kart), and the generously equipped and smartly sized Haval Jolion. After extensively driving both, it was mostly a pleasure to get back in the Octavia and its familiar surrounds. I've really come to grips with the controls in this car, and the memory settings for the driver's seat - that's a win. My partner is about eight inches (20cm) shorter than I am, and our driving positions are vastly different, so that seat memory button is a huge tick for me.

During this month I had a few fellow test cars in the driveway alongside the Skoda (image: Matt Campbell). During this month I had a few fellow test cars in the driveway alongside the Skoda (image: Matt Campbell).

What isn't as big a tick is the electric mirror controls. In the car I have, they seem to have a mind of their own. Adjust the right mirror, and the left side mirror adjusts, too - so then you have to correct it to be in the right position. It's a real doozy. But at least the side mirrors are heated, which is great for cooler, dewy mornings where condensation tends to cling to the glass.

As you’re probably aware, a 100-day-plus lockdown came to an end in October in NSW, which meant we were finally able to head out to see friends and hang out in other parts of Sydney. This was an especially joyous thing for our little family, as none of our close friends or extended family had met Eliska (some still haven’t!).

First off was a birthday party at editor Mal Flynn’s place - Mal and I share the same birthday, so I gatecrashed the gig with my then-four-and-a-half-month-old, who, it’s fair to say, stole our thunder a little. 

When getting her pram out of the boot I was reminded just how much I’ve come to appreciate the size and space of the cargo area, and while over our time with the car there’d been little call to do the Tetris thing in the boot, it has always had enough space for quick trips with the little one. 

The “oh no my hands are full” auto/kick-action tailgate is a winner (image: Matt Campbell). The “oh no my hands are full” auto/kick-action tailgate is a winner (image: Matt Campbell).

Further to that, the “oh no my hands are full” auto/kick-action tailgate is a winner, and it has worked every time. And - I know I’ve said it before - but the fact there are proximity unlocking sensors on the rear doors really is a game changer. I don’t think I could buy a family car that didn’t have them.

The following weekend it was time for another trip - this time a bit of a longer one, as we headed - with smiles on our dials - to a 2nd birthday party in Wahroonga on Sydney’s north shore. The Skoda cruised on the freeways without fuss, but then when we got to the Northconnex tunnel, the Apple CarPlay system froze, the screen went black, and - momentarily - I wasn’t sure where I was supposed to be going.

I know this tunnel causes havoc with phone mapping - it has happened before when using Apple Maps and Google Maps in different cars while using my phone connected by cable, but the system eventually figured out I wasn’t driving on the surface streets.

But with the unstable wireless CarPlay system blacking out the screen and leaving me listless, I was again forced to think whether I’d be happy with this level of inconvenience if I’d bought the car. I wouldn’t. It really annoys me.

The unstable wireless CarPlay system can cause the screen to black out (image: Matt Campbell). The unstable wireless CarPlay system can cause the screen to black out (image: Matt Campbell).

Eventually the screen figured itself out and I was on the right track, having remembered which exit I needed to take from a previous trip to these parts. Even so, the fact is that the screen continues to be a problem - and I’ve read online reports from fellow ‘owners’ of such issues, too.

Stay tuned to see if they continue to plague the ‘ownership’ experience in my final months with the Skoda.

Acquired: 31 May 2021

Distance travelled this month: 543km

Odometer: 4069km

Average fuel consumption for October: 8.1L/100km (measured at the pump)

Part 6, December 2021

It’s time to say goodbye to my first family car. I’m pretty bummed about it to be honest, because this Octavia RS has been with me and my partner since the very day our daughter was born, and for that reason it will always hold a special place in my heart.

It’s time to say goodbye to my first family car. (image credit: Matt Campbell) It’s time to say goodbye to my first family car. (image credit: Matt Campbell)

It has been a consummate family car for our needs, with two small dogs and a newborn, with enough space to accommodate us for day trips and longer drives, too. We’ve really benefited from the roof-mount storage pod, because there have been times when I would have wished for just a little more interior space for those “oh I sure hope we packed everything we need” journeys. Though as a daily driver, there’s never been an issue with storage onboard.

The Octavia has been a consummate family car for two small dogs and a newborn. (image credit: Matt Campbell) The Octavia has been a consummate family car for two small dogs and a newborn. (image credit: Matt Campbell)

But like most things you hold dear to you, it isn’t without its faults. The most persistent of which being the media screen, which - yet again - failed during a drive we did in our final weeks with the car.

The roof-mount storage pod has been a huge benefit. (image credit: Matt Campbell) The roof-mount storage pod has been a huge benefit. (image credit: Matt Campbell)

We’d managed to hit the road for a real long drive, a three-hour stint from my place in the lower Blue Mountains to Yass, just outside Canberra. The freeway drive was going swell until, about 40km from our destination, I pulled off the highway to adjust something in the back.

The car stopped itself when I put it in park and got out, turning off the media system and all the accessories. I fixed what needed to be done, and after about 45 seconds I got back into the driver’s seat. I hit the start button, put the car in drive, and moved away from the parking zone.

More interior space would be good for those bigger journeys. (image credit: Matt Campbell) More interior space would be good for those bigger journeys. (image credit: Matt Campbell)

That’s when I noticed the screen wouldn’t load my phone connection. Then it disconnected. Then when we tried to reconnect the phone, it disconnected two more times. All told, I got so sick of trying to make it work that I added the destination address to the inbuilt sat nav system, and relied on it instead (and did so without any music or podcast for the final leg of the journey).

I keep coming back to the fact that this shouldn’t happen, and I cannot emphasise how much it would impact my decision as to whether or not to consider buying a car like this, if I was in the market for one. One thing I’ve also noticed is the issue with the wireless CarPlay seems more prominent when the phone is on the Qi wireless charger. Maybe it’s a heat thing. Maybe it’s just my phone. Maybe. But I’ve read plenty of other customer complaints about this media system, and have experienced these issues in a related VW Group product (as has fellow tester, Andrew Chesterton). 

And that’s probably even more annoying because the car has been such a good fit for my family and our lifestyle in almost every other way.

The Octavia RS is a competent cruiser. (image credit: Matt Campbell) The Octavia RS is a competent cruiser. (image credit: Matt Campbell)

The long highway drive showcased just how competent a cruiser the Octavia RS is, with a comfy ride (set to Individual with the dampers tending towards Comfort), ample power when required, a clever transmission that never seems to make a mistake at high speeds, and confident braking when you need it. 

My only real complaint about the drive experience is that the car can tend to let in a lot of road noise. The cabin sound insulation could be better, because on freeway surfaces you still get a bit of that trademark rumble, while coarse-chip roads can make for a genuinely noisy interior environment.

The car can tend to let in a lot of road noise. (image credit: Matt Campbell) The car can tend to let in a lot of road noise. (image credit: Matt Campbell)

The wagon did its duty as a portable nappy change table and feeding couch, too, with more than a few on-the-road diapers sorted on our long drive to the country. We attended a cousin's wedding and, with our six-month-old being a lockdown baby, she didn't love all the noise. So we spent quite a bit of the evening in or near the car, making use of the boot and back seat for those necessary jobs.

But during my closing weeks with the RS, I also found myself mentally circling back on the notion of whether this grade of Octavia is really worth it.

The wagon did its duty. (image credit: Matt Campbell) The wagon did its duty. (image credit: Matt Campbell)

For a mum or dad with a slightly older child, one in a forward-facing or booster seat, it certainly offers a compelling proposition. And if you know you can find time, or make time, to enjoy the performance on offer from the punchiest petrol engine you can get in an Octavia, then it will tick that box, too.

But with a price this high, and a negligible real-world advantage over the 140TSI or even the 110TSI version, I’d be thinking twice about whether to go all-in on the RS or buy one of the less expensive, yet admittedly less sporty, regular Octavia wagons.

I mean, considering you could get a 1.4L Ambition wagon for $32,990 MSRP, or the 1.4L Style version for $36,990 MSRP, the question of coin might be one well worth considering. The 2.0L (140TSI) Launch Edition seems a bit close to the RS at $46,090, but does have a lot of luxo features you might want.

The RS does have a lot of luxo features you might want. (image credit: Matt Campbell) The RS does have a lot of luxo features you might want. (image credit: Matt Campbell)

I hope these updates have given you some food for thought on whether the RS might be right for you. If you love and it you can easily justify it, you won’t be disappointed… Well, that might depend on whether your phone screws up the media system!

Acquired: 31 May 2021

Distance travelled this month: 1471km

Odometer: 5540km

Average fuel consumption for November/December: 8.29L/100km (measured at the pump)


The Wrap

There is no doubt that the Skoda Octavia RS wagon is a compelling, complete and competent car for families. It was almost perfect for my family, but I think it'd better suit a family with slightly older children in forward facing seats, because it's squishy for those in the front seat.

The tech gremlins really frustrated me, and I'd have to think twice about whether I'd consider this car as a result. Imagine if your TV remote didn't work every fourth or fifth time you wanted it to... you'd likely go and buy a new, different brand of television. That's the frustration level I'm talking about.

But if you don't care about the tech as much, it could be fine for you. Or, if Skoda fixes this ongoing issue, it might be a moot point.

That (arguably) minor ongoing issue aside, this is a great family wagon.

Likes

Big boot
Plenty of smarts
Comfort is supreme

Dislikes

Rear-facing child seat space limited
Glitchy screen
A bit pricey

Scores

Matt:

3.8

The Kids:

4

$49,590

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.