The Skoda Octavia RS — in either sedan or wagon form — has impressed every CarAdvice tester that has been behind the wheel. This time, we take a closer look at the Octavia RS powered by a diesel engine — the same oiler that makes a positive impression under the bonnet of the Volkswagen Golf GTD. Take a look at our launch review to read about the differences between the diesel and petrol engines.
The Volkswagen Group’s Modular Transverse (MQB) platform arrangement is both smart and economical. The same platform, which underpins Audi’s A3 and Volkswagen’s Golf sits beneath the Skoda Octavia (slightly stretched for the Skoda). The Octavia is a medium-sized car in practice, until you open the doors or the tailgate and take a look at the space on offer inside. The diminutive exterior styling hides a veritable treasure trove within the cabin.
Neither big nor small physically, the Octavia represents — in wagon form — a tangible smart money purchase for the family buyer. Opt for an Octavia with an RS badge and you get a smattering of performance ability thrown into the already attractive buying proposition — especially with the petrol engine under the bonnet. The question here is whether the diesel has the chops to offer an alternative to the petrol Octavia RS.
The 2015 Skoda Octavia RS 135TDI Wagon starts from $41,140 plus on road costs. Our test model was optioned with the Black Pack ($500 including 18in wheels), and the Tech Pack for RS ($1900) bringing the buy-in price up to $43,840 before on-road costs.
The black pack adds black exterior detailing for the mirrors and grille and special wheels. The tech pack isn’t cheap at nearly two grand, but brings with it some much-needed kit. There’s adaptive cruise control including front assist with city emergency brake, automatic parking assistant with front and rear parking sensors, advanced keyless entry including smart key and a premium Canton sound system with ten speakers and digital equaliser. We’d recommend ticking this option box on the RS. A reverse view camera is now standard on Octavia RS as well.
While a diesel engine and the promise of sporting prowess still aren’t that common in Australia, the idea is well loved in Europe and the Octavia has proper group heritage to draw on.
Under the bonnet, there’s a willing turbocharged diesel four-cylinder engine churning out 135kW of power and 380Nm of torque. 0-100km/h comes up in 8.3 seconds, top speed is 228km/h and there’s a six-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox sending drive to the front wheels — no manual option for the diesel engine.
The ADR combined fuel figure is a frugal 5.3L/100km. There was plenty to love about the Octavia after a week behind the wheel, but perhaps the most attractive feature was the real world fuel usage. I covered nearly 300km, with less than 50km of that on the freeway and the indicated return was 7.8L/100km.
The RS variant sits atop the Octavia tree and as such, there’s a raft of standard kit included in the starting RRP. Inside the cabin there’s a high quality touchscreen with smart sensors that come to life when your fingers approach the screen. Satellite navigation is included, along with USB input, Bluetooth connectivity, SD card inputs, and an on-board 64Gb HDD, which allows you to load your media into the system rather than needing to use an external device.
Other equipment notables include: dual zone climate control air conditioning, vents for the rear seat passengers, heated and power adjustable mirrors. A leather-trimmed steering wheel and alloy pedals round out the sporty inclusions.
The 12V power sockets in both the luggage area and centre console are handy, there’s a raft of interior storage including bottle/cup holders front and rear, a ski port in the second row seats and a 60/40 split fold backrest with remote release.
Outside, 18-inch alloy wheels are standard, but there’s no full size spare on offer — space-saver only. As previously mentioned, our Octavia was fitted with the optional wheels as part of the black pack. Bi-xenon headlights add a touch of prestige to the design and an eye-catching detail whenever the Octavia is on the road. Somewhat restrained RS badges are the only giveaway that there’s any added performance on offer, meaning the Octavia RS really does fly under the radar of most other road users.
Safety is taken care of with a five-star ANCAP rating, nine airbags in total as well as multi collision brake assist and fatigue detect. ESC, traction control and EBD are also standard.
Anyone familiar with current Volkswagen design will immediately feel comfortable behind the Octavia’s chunky wheel. There’s ample headroom in both rows, and a surfeit of leg room in the second row, even with a long-legged driver up front. The seats are comfortable too even over longer distances, especially the sculptured front sport seats. I never felt weary behind the wheel of the Octavia even after prolonged periods in the saddle.
The enormous cargo capacity (588 litres) is perhaps the Octavia’s strongest weapon, but there’s useful storage throughout the cabin and a quality feel about the execution. The layout of all the major controls is sensible and functional, with perfect fit, quality materials and plenty of soft touch surfaces. Fold the second row seats down, and the luggage space opens out to a whopping 1718L.
Of special note regarding the driver interface (as usual) is the Volkswagen Group Bluetooth connection, which is easy to activate, simple to use and reliable. Callers on the other end of phone calls made or received, reported the Skoda’s connection to be crystal clear.
The diesel engine, while not as rapid as its petrol counterpart is grunty, smooth and quieter than most. High tech direct injection ensures fuel usage is as frugal as possible, but also assists in delivering snappy throttle response from almost anywhere in the rev range. There’s a little bit of diesel clatter at idle, but the Octavia is never tractor-like.
Maximum torque is on offer from 1750rpm, which is just off idle, so step off the brake and mash the throttle and the Octavia gets cranking pretty quickly. Aside from a slight flat spot just off idle, there’s almost no turbo lag whatsoever, and you’ll love the fact that the DSG holds gears until redline. Once it does get to redline, shifts are fast and precise.
The diesel engine’s piece de resistance though is in the mid range. While there is that slight flat spot from a standing start, any roll on manoeuvre once moving illustrates the mid range prowess of the diesel engine. There’s a smooth and powerful surge to redline, with the DSG quickly selecting the optimal ratio to make the most of the engine’s torque delivery. What this relationship between torque and gearbox does is make the Octavia feel even more rapid than it really is.
Accelerating or decelerating, the Octavia RS is in its element whether you’re punting hard or cruising along. The Wagon plays the Jekyll and Hyde game well. It’s more capable than you might think, but never so recalcitrant at lower speeds as to be painful. Numerous family haulers claim to be capable of a spirited punt, but the Octavia RS Wagon walks the walk.
Regardless of how enthusiastic your drive, the Octavia exhibits exceptional body control, balance and ride comfort. The suspension is a strut front, multi-link rear arrangement and as you’d expect the RS gets uprated brakes compared to its less illustrious siblings. Remember though, that Jez noted in his launch review the diesel engine Octavia not having quite as much dynamic prowess as its petrol sibling.
The 18in wheels are wrapped with high quality Continental SportContact 2 tyres. Measuring 225/40/R18, they go a long way to ensuring grip and poise is as confidence inspiring as it is, but the Octavia chassis is a properly balanced package. There’s enormous grip on offer, and while the steering isn’t razor sharp, it is confidence inspiring, taut and direct.
CarAdvice founder Anthony Crawford slipped behind the wheel for a weekend and like me, found the around town ride to be exceptional. He also appreciated the versatility of the load space for items such as surfboards, but it was the Octavia’s ability to soak up nasty road surfaces that came in for special mention along with the surge of power through the mid range.
Given the Octavia’s handling prowess at the limit, the way it can skip over poor surfaces with ease is something to be impressed by. Skoda has definitely nailed the balance between comfort and handling with this model.
With an RRP of just over 40 grand, the Skoda Octavia RS 135TDI is worth every cent — and then some — if you’re a fan of diesel engines. If you need to convince yourself that you’re making a sensible family choice, but you also need to satisfy your inner driving enthusiast, you need to take a close look at the Octavia RS. It’s most appealing point is that you don’t want for anything day-to-day if you opt for the diesel engine, even though it doesn't deliver the soundtrack of the petrol engine. The petrol engine remains the ultimate performance option and the price difference ($41,940 for the manual and $44,240 for the DSG with the petrol engine) is a consideration.
It’s not often we’d find ourselves pointing at the range-topper as the sweet spot in any given vehicle range, but the RS really is the way to go if you fall for the Octavia. It’s an impressive vehicle right across the range to be fair, from the cheapest to this, the most expensive variant. We think though, that the RS offers something for everyone.
Skoda Octavia RS 135TDI Wagon Servicing Prices
Click on the photos tab to see more images by Mitchell Oke.