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Skoda Octavia 2022 review: RS wagon long-term

Is a wagon the best choice for new parents?

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)


The Wrap

Likes

Big boot
Plenty of smarts
Comfort is supreme

Dislikes

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

Scores

Matt:

The Kids:

$49,590

Based on new car retail price


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.