Most car fanatics like super cars, sporty coupes, brutal V8 sedans, well I like them all but I tend to salivate the most over.... wagons. My passion for performance wagons started thanks very much to Audi and their bonkers RS6 Avant models. The ability to carry the kids and half of Woolworths while at the same time scaring Porsches was just what the doctor ordered.
So when it came time to update my old wagon which was practical and not the least bit sporting, I knew it had to be a drivers car, err wagon. I had something in mind from a previous drive a couple of years ago, but it lacked that shove in the back I wanted that was until I drove its replacement - The NE Skoda Octavia RS 162TSI Wagon. The test drive was in a hatch version for the weekend before handing it back to the dealer struggling to maintain my composure over the brilliant balance of grip, pace, economy and features for the money. Skoda, I thought, had nailed this new RS perfectly. A couple of months passed (no, I didn't fall for the have it for the weekend, sign on Monday) and after some haggling with the local dealer and the price was right I drove away in my new RS wagon, in sport mode of course.
It has proven to be a polished all rounder to date and after six months and 22K on the clock, (yes it doesn't spend too much time in the garage) nothing has fallen off and the build quality is impressive despite the naysayers warning of Czech Republic quality control. Despite my love of manuals I went with the DSG as it provides the ability to choose its own gears in traffic or play with the wheel mounted paddles when on roads like Jubilee Terrace (nope, never been there). I could make the excuse that my wife needs an automatic but as far as I'm concerned I'm still a child, paddles and throttle blips on down change wins every time.
I'm always sceptical of manufacturers fuel economy figures however I'm happy to report that the RS is easily capable of 6.6L/100km on the highway and around 10L/100km through town however I'm sure someone who could drive it like a Prius could easily better that. Performance is incredible from the 2.0lt Turbo with its speciality being in gear acceleration, 2nd to 3rd gear bursts never gets boring. Being a front wheel drive, quick launches result in either axle tramp or it will do its best to turn the Continentals into smoke so liberal use of the right foot is required.
To complement the performance of the engine the handling defies the conservative exterior. The RS possesses excellent steering feel which inspires confidence to push the car harder in the corners and explore the wonderful turn in, helped by the Continental ContiSport tyres fitted as standard. The downside to the handling is the firm ride which has been noticed by more than the odd passenger and it does allow a fair degree of road noise inside the cabin especially at highway speeds.
Gripes are few. The DSG in normal mode, especially when approaching a steep incline can sometimes lose the plot and refuses to change down a gear, then when it finally does, it gives you all 350nm of torque! Economy mode is best left for the highway as its slower to react around town than a celebrity doing community service. Sport mode is giggle central, the beefed up noise through the sound actuator, the auto throttle blipping on down changes, paddles, yes I love paddles and its always willing to drop down a cog to give you maximum thrust.
With extended services all the rage, its only been serviced once so far and I'll call the fee reasonable and customer service pretty good but I believe Honda does the customer service game much better. Virtually no contact from Skoda since purchase other than the initial welcome to the family booklet is disappointing considering they are a relatively new player in the Australian market.
Overall I'm very impressed with my Octavia RS, I like that not many people know what it is and that the odd car enthusiast will comment 'oh that an RS what's it like'. I can tell you they are brilliant just don't go telling everyone.