RS is to Skoda what M is to BMW, AMG is to Mercedes, SVR is to Range Rover and Polestar is to Volvo. To put it simply- the performance inducing, steroid injecting wing of the brand whose only job is to make your everyday machine behave like a sports car. Suspension tweaks, engine power output bumps, louder exhausts are amongst the very basic mods that these ‘performance’ variants go through.
What’s interesting about the Octi RS?
Well, Skodas, as we all know, are known to be priced very aggressively when compared its German siblings or counterparts. Take the example of the Skoda Superb- it offers more legroom and comfort at the back then even the Audi A6 which is a proper segment (approx 30lakhs) above the Superb.
The RS badge is not new to the Indian market. It was first introduced with the Octavia MK 1 in India which debuted way back in early 2000’s. The car was an instant hit amongst enthusiasts and gave the brand a ‘performance car’ image and edge over its rivals. Then the MK 2 Octavia which was christened as the “Laura” in India ( I bet you there was no local market research done before the christening) got an RS variant which was more of a cosmetic job with a similar powertrain as the normal Laura i.e 1.8-litre unit churning out 160 PS of power.
Now, in 2017, the Czech carmaker has come out all guns blazing and introduced the same Euro-specced RS variant of the MK 3 Octavia in India. It comes with a 2.0-litre turbocharged oil burner paired with a 6-speed DSG and even the suspension is full Euro Spec! Finally, someone heard the enthusiast’s cringe!
Let’s talk about the aesthetic changes first- starting from the front, the RS comes with an all-new bumper which looks more aggressive than the usual Octi and compliments the lowered stance of the car(The RS is 9mm lower than the standard car). move over to the sides and you will notice striking 17-inch wheels wrapped in 224/45 Michelin Pilot Sport rubber which work really well in keeping all of that power down(more on this later). RS branded red colour brake calipers are also a giveaway of the fact that this ain’t no slouchy Octi. Move to the back and you cannot miss out on the spoiler which has been integrated pretty neatly. Dual exhausts and RS badging are other to changes here.
A flat bottom steering with RS badging is the first thing that you’ll not once you enter the cabin. Most of the elements have been blacked out owing to the sporty theme and you get a nice red accent in the footwell and the doors as well. Another noteworthy change inside the cabin is the new Alcantara wrapped seats which chunky RS logos in the centre. The front seats offer good bolstering and support and make sure that you don’t move around much while darting the RS into those sharp corners. I expected these seats to be stiff and uncomfortable for long drives but while driving the car constantly for 5 hours in rush hour traffic, I could hardly realise that I wasn’t sitting on some chunky comfy piece of leather which just goes on to show how comfortable they are.The infotainment unit is as good as before(probably the best in this segment) and comes straight from the top end Octi variant along with all the other bells and whistles plus safety kit like 8 airbags, ABS, ASR, ESP- name it and it’s there.
Now coming to the most important bit- the performance and driving dynamics. So before I start, let me put forward the point that I have been a Stage 2 Skoda Laura owner for the last 4 years and had really high expectations from the RS. So I decided to go a bit easy on the car initially just to absorb the initial feel. The first thing that impressed me is the sitting position and the steering wheel feel. You can easily get into your preferred driving position using the electric buttons and can save you position into the memory setting. There is a slight mumble from the exhaust as soon as you fire the 2.0-litre turbocharged unit. Once you get moving in D mode, the 6-speed dual clutch DSG gearbox does its job well while upshifting directly in accordance with your throttle response. It doesn’t come across as very aggressive engine-gearbox setup down low in the rev range and you are gentle on the throttle, it will upshift as early as 2000rpm without any drama. Slot the gearbox into S mode or hold it above 3000 rpm in manual mode and you will feel all the 230 horses and 350 Newtons come alive- pushing you back in the Alcantara covered seats. It pulls cleanly all the way up to 6000rpm and Skoda’s claimed 0-100kmph sprint time of 6.8 seconds is very much achievable. There is a nice raspy snarly note from the dual exhausts once you’re over 3000 rpm and every redline shift is accompanied by a ‘braap’.
Now all this power in a front wheel drive car can be a bit concerning but not here in the RS as it comes with a Limited Slip Differential (LSD) and its job is to ensure that the car does not break traction beyond controllable limits. When you are darting it hard into corners, the LSD ensures that the outer wheel spins faster than the inside wheel which cuts down understeer phenomenally. To put it down simply, the RS feels very comfortable doing corners at high speeds.
Should I buy one?
Let me make this very simple- If you like power( I mean who doesn’t) and you are looking for a practical sedan with a proper boot and enough space for 5 adults under Rs 30 Lakh- the Octavia RS will the bill better than anything else in our market. Also, Skoda’s have always been very tuner friendly and a simple remap can give it enough grunt to take on sports sedans like the Audi S5 and the Mercedes CLA 45 AMG. However, according to a few reports, Skoda has sold old the first lot of the Octavia RS in India so you might have to wait for a while before you can get your hands on one! (I am glad that I can get my hands on the media fleet whenever I feel like !).
ENGINE – 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol TSI
POWER – 230 bhp TORQUE – 350 NM
ACCELERATION – 0-100kmph – 6.8 seconds TOP SPEED – 250kmph
TRANSMISSION – 6 Speed AT, FWD
PRICE- ₹ 25,48,644 ( ex-showroom)