The Skoda Octavia RS is one of those cars that has always had a cult following. Until now I’ve not had the chance to get behind the wheel of one – but the power of word-of-mouth hype has filled me with a lot of lofty expectations.
It’s supposed to be a practicality dream. It’s got all the unique Skoda quirks that fans of the Czech brand love. It stocks the same 2.0-litre engine as a Volkswagen Golf GTI, but mated to a better-value package. Dynamically it’s meant to be right up there with some of the best of its price range.
Though, things may have changed with this latest generation. As well as being an all-new model, Skoda has bumped up the price for 2021 to near-premium levels. We’ve picked up a 2021 Skoda Octavia RS wagon to run over the next few months to see whether it still delivers on the values that earned it such a strong reputation as a fan favourite.
Whereas the previous generation kicked off in the low-to-mid $40,000 range, the new car comes in at $49,090 (before on-roads) – or $52,990 (drive-away) – in wagon guise like we have. Our Velvet Red metallic colour adds $1100 to the bottom line, as does the $1900 panoramic sunroof and $6500 Premium Pack.
The Octavia RS wagon is powered by a 180kW/370Nm 2.0-litre petrol engine mated to a seven-speed DSG driving the front wheels. Zero to 100km/h is achieved in 6.7 seconds, which mightn’t sound impressive on paper, but the experience from the hot seat is punchy enough day-to-day.
|2021 Skoda Octavia RS|
|Engine configuration||2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder|
|Power and torque||180kW at 6500rpm, 370Nm at 1600–4300rpm|
|Transmission||Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Fuel consumption (combined cycle claim)||6.8L/100km|
|Fuel consumption (combined cycle on test)||-|
|Key competitors||Peugeot 508 GT Wagon | Mazda 6 GT Wagon | Subaru Levorg|
It’s a smart-looking thing from the outside, striking a well-straddled balance between sporty and stylish. All lights are LED (the rears include the dynamic indicators that scroll) and the 19-inch wheels look similar to those on the Lamborghini Huracan. Of course, the iconic Skoda black moustache grille is proudly on display at the front.
That aforementioned $6500 Premium Pack might sound like an expensive box to tick on a $50K car, but it does add a decent amount of kit including adaptive dampers, a head-up display, electrically adjustable heated front seats with memory, heated rear seats, massaging functionality and cushion depth adjustment for the driver's seat, a 12-speaker Canton premium sound system, and tri-zone climate control with front and rear control panels.
It also adds a drive-mode selector, hands-free boot release, automatic parking, and smart anti-dazzle mirrors that can memorise driver preferences and dip when reversing to prevent kerb damage to the wheels. It might've been easier to stomach a number of smaller option packs, as opposed to one great big $6500 load of equipment.
That extensive enhancement pack adds to an already well-equipped interior, which boasts a 10-inch infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless phone charging, a fully digital instrument cluster, ambient lighting, and leather/Alcantara seats with a quilted pattern.
The Octavia RS gets a full suite of safety kit including adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, 10 airbags and Passenger Protect Assist (which uses vehicle sensors to detect an impending crash and tighten seatbelts, close windows and more).
|2021 Skoda Octavia RS wagon|
|Colour||Velvet Red metallic|
|Price (MSRP)||$62,490 (as-tested drive-away)|
|Options as tested||$9500 (Premium Pack, panoramic roof, metallic paint)|
|Servicing 5yr||$1400 (pre-purchase)|
|ANCAP safety rating||5-star (2019 – Octavia range)|
|Warranty||5 years / unlimited km|
It’s a very nice place to spend time, which makes you wonder just how much better things could get if you shopped above its $62,490 as-tested drive-away price.
Considering we picked it up a day before Melbourne’s fourth lockdown, driving has unfortunately been kept to a minimum since collection.
This gave me time to play with a lot of the infotainment, which is a real head-scratcher to figure out at first. It took some time to find out how to configure the digital instrument cluster, though I do appreciate the level of customisation on offer. The steering wheel buttons just don’t make a lot of sense – so much haphazard prodding was used.
There are so many configurations and features to play with regarding the infotainment, many of which I have yet to investigate. I’m looking forward to getting better acquainted with the system.
One thing I’m not expecting to come around to is the cabin devoid of physical buttons. At a minimum, I want buttons for things like stop/start, driving modes, climate controls and volume. I get where Skoda is coming from design-wise, but while the minimalistic thing may look clean, it’s a pain to work with every day.
As for the minimal driving completed thus far, the Octavia RS is shaping up as a nice grocery-getter. It’s comfortable around town running over tram tracks and speed humps, it has enough poke to produce a smile (despite the dreary Melbourne weather), and the gearbox is a quick-shifting and mostly intuitive partner to the turbocharged engine.
Its various driving modes haven’t seen much use as yet. I’m waiting for restrictions to ease before taking it on a proper drive.
There are no grand plans to running this Skoda Octavia RS. I merely want to see what all the fuss is about. It genuinely presents as something I would spend my own money on, so I’m very keen to give it a good test run to see whether the experience shapes up to the preconceptions.
Stay tuned over the next few months as we take the 2021 Skoda Octavia RS wagon on spirited drives, road trips and general-duty travel, and be sure to let us know if you have any questions!