With its strong lines, and a slightly odd name, Octavia provides a more spacious alternative to a hot hatch.
The RS245 is the hottest of the Octavias and has the 180kw drive train of the Golf GTI, my favourite hot hatch.
Despite being on sale here for several years, ŠKODA continues to a brand that only a few canny buyers know about. Perhaps that is a plus for the thrifty buyers who want a exclusivity without trading their first-born for it.
There are only 4 colours. Red, grey, in standard paint, and black and white in metallic. There are matched with a smart set of grey 19”, 5-hole alloys.
Clever LED lighting gives a slightly unassuming car a bit of much-desired menace. Headlights in particular have a jeweled look to them. Whilst it isn’t that unusual now, I love that complex arrangement that looks sexy even when the power is off.
A wagon offers extra space over a hatch but for some reason doesn’t carry the same gravitas in Australia that it does in Europe. It’s seen here as a bit of a mum’s taxi. That may be so, but the RS245 is for the mum who wears her leather with attitude.
The chunky looks lends itself to SUV convenience without the enormous bulk that comes with it. It’s the choice I’d make if I fancied a lifestyle where camping or sports were involved. My idea of camping is sharing a bathroom at the Sheraton. In fact, it is perfect for a weekend away, so a wagon is much preferred.
The interior is clever, and classy.
The elegant design is crisp and clean. Soft touch plastic surfaces have a quality feel to them. More over, it feels efficient without being bland.
The seats are not only supportive and comfortable, but adjust exactly to a good driving position. The steering wheel adjusts for rake and reach. Instruments are easily read, and controls are all within easy reach. Naturally, much of it is shared with other vehicles in the Volkswagen range, and that’s fine by me.
You’re not short of cubby holes either.
The glove box is air conditioned, and the centre console has a spot for a mobile. There is wireless charging too, so I’m told. I couldn’t get it to work. As well as a spot for your brolly under the passenger’s seat, there is a bin in the door that ŠKODA says is for rubbish. There are bottle holders, also in the doors, and a sunglasses holder overhead.
I liked the retainer on the windscreen for carpark tickets so you don’t have to rely on the flying off the dash when you shut the front door.
One of the coolest features is the LED torch that is always charged. It lives in a dock in the cargo hold. It isn’t unique exactly, but it is very welcome.
While we are in the back, I have to mention the double sided rear mat. Carpet on one side, and cleanable non-slip rubber on the other. Perfect for damp sports gear. You can run a hose over it to clean off the schmaltz.
Headroom is plentiful and rear leg room is good. 4 adults fit easily even on longer trips. There is a tablet holder on the rear of the front seat too. Never again will you hear “are we there yet”. To keep an eye on what’s going on in the back seat, there is an accessory that fits above the standard rear view mirror and allows Big Brother in the front seat to see all. It looks like one of those things Grey Nomads use when they tow caravans the size of a 3 bed house.
You can extend internal space by using roof boxes too. There are also some nifty boot systems for some models which keep things nice and tidy back there. It is the automotive equivalent of landscaping.
The entertainment system sounds brilliant and is easy to use. A high-resolution screen responds quickly, and the menu lacks any of the self-obsessed fussiness of some of the other Europeans. Apple CarPlay is included and makes the brands which don’t have seem rather “last week”.
• Wireless phone charging
• Apple CarPlay
• Front emergency braking
• Cross traffic alert and braking
• Cargo net
• Clever storage
• LED headlights with adaptive 15° turning ability
• Parking Sensors
• Semi-automated parking
• Auto lights and wipers
• Lane assist (includes active steering and audible warnings)
• Active blind spot assist
• 5 year unlimited km warranty
While some of these attributes can be considered ubiquitous safety features, no one can argue the RS245 isn’t a clever car.
• Engine: 180kw/370Nm
• 0-100: 6.6 seconds
• Econ: 6.7 L/100 combined city/highway
• CO2: 153 g/km
• Weight: from 1371kg
180kw/ ŠKODA nicked the engine and gearbox from the gold standard in hot hatches, the Golf GTI which is made by sister company, Volkswagen.
THE RS245 scores an extra cog on the DSG which is a 7 speed model. At low speeds the DSG can be a bit “grabby”, and although it makes gear changes pretty snappy, I’d prefer a regular auto. A 6 speed manual can be had, and for fewer shekels too.
The handling is simply superb. Drive modes allow you to select whatever combination of throttle, chassis, gear, and steering settings you like best. The sportier the settings, the raspier the engine seems to sound.
Even the harshest of sporty settings feels comfortable. There is none of that socially unacceptable wobbling of your bits in juttery corners.
There is a sense that the ŠKODA might push a driver to the limit of his ability. The electronic nannies will help, but I prefer the excitement level dialed back a few notches. We gave the RS245 a thorough seeing-to on a recent track day, and it was a hoot. In the hands of a professional driver, it turns from a street machine into a well-mannered SKUD missile.
It proves you don’t need brute force in order to have a bit of fun.
You see the video of our track day HERE.
• 7Airbags: front, side, side curtain, driver’s knee
• Active Blind Spot assist with warning light and steering assist
• Passenger Protect Assist
• Fatigue detection
• Multi collision braking (prevents secondary accident by stopping and applying the brake)
• Prefill Braking (prefills hydraulics with fluid in anticipation of heavy braking)
Many of these features were previously only found in high-end models.
Passenger protection assist will tighten seat belts and close the windows and sunroof to give the airbags the best chance of protecting passengers.
• Superb handling and ride (as good as Golf GTI thanks to drive mode selection)
• Great tech (some of the tech mentioned is optional via “packs”)
• Spritely performance
Not so much
• Not quite daring enough looks-wise
• Prefer a normal auto to a DSG
• Brand awareness not what it could be
ŠKODA RS245 is a peach.
It drives like a Golf GTI but costs fewer shekels. It has more room, and somehow feels more practical. It feels solid and sensible without being heavy and boring.
The brand awareness is fairly low. People often ask what brand of car you’re driving when you’re in a ŠKODA, and that adds a touch of gravitas.
Drive and handling have an unexpected finesse. Sure other hot hatches in the segment drive all wheels verses the Octavia’s Front Wheel set up, but the clever Limited Slip Diff sorts out any wayward behaviour.
It looks more expensive than it actually is, and I rate ŠKODA Octavia RS245 at 8.5/10
Engine: 2.0L straight turbo 4 cylinder, 180kw/370Nm, 6 6L/100k
Transmission: 7 speed DSG auto or 6 speed manual
Safety: 5 star (tested 2016)
Origin: Czech Republic
Warranty: 5 yr/unlimited km
Price: $54,536 ex tax
My Rating: 8.5/10