No more manual or diesel come fourth quarter 2018 due to WLTP changes

Remember last month when we wrote about the MY19 Volkswagen Golf GTI losing the manual option? The three-pedal casualties have continued elsewhere in the Volkswagen Group, with the Skoda Octavia RS also losing its stick-shift variants for 2019.

It's not the first, and it won't be the last European line-up to be reshuffled because of the new WLTP – that's Worldwide harmonised Light vehicle Testing Protocol – rules coming into force this September in Europe.

For 2019, the Octavia RS line-up will be culled to just the RS245 DSG, spelling the death of the RS 169TSI petrol and RS 135TDI diesel. The sales split is expected to be 70 per cent wagon and 30 per cent liftback, as it has traditionally been for the Octavia RS. Who said wagons are dead?

"The RS245 with DSG will shortly become the sole RS variant," said Paul Pottinger, Skoda's local communications boss.

"Of the 590 cars sold in May (itself a record for that moth), almost 200 of them were Octavias, more than half of which – around 60 per cent – were RS variants and majority of these were RS245 wagons with DSG and an array of options. More than 70 per cent of all Octavia sales are wagons," he claims.

Pottinger added that the RS models being sold generally carry a few option packs.

Like the Golf GTI, the Octavia RS and RS245 manuals aren't being homologated to meet Euro 6.2 emissions standards under the new test procedure. Although it's not confirmed at this stage, it would be very surprising if the Volkswagen Golf R manual doesn't meet the same fate, along with the three-pedal Audi S3 – not that many of those found homes in Australia either.

Cycles are longer on the WLTP, with 30 minutes of driving instead of the 20 minutes required by the New European Drive Cycle (NEDC). It's also longer, covering 23km instead of 11km, with different gear shift points.

The change is already having an impact: along with the Volkswagen Group products we've covered, production for the Peugeot 308 GTi will be halted for four months to bring the car's 1.6-litre engine into line with the rules, and the BMW M3 is being sent to a farm upstate prematurely because of the test.

Volkswagen and, by extension, Skoda, put the line-up tweaks down to production being "rationalised", as engines are treated to new particulate filters.

James Wong and Scott Collie

How do you feel about Skoda's line-up changes for the Octavia?