I drove the facelifted 2018 Skoda Octavia RS TDI a couple of months back. Overall, it’s a good car and makes sense but it isn’t without it’s niggles. Straight out, I don’t like the idea of a diesel sports car, that could be just me. So, when I collected the 2018 Skoda Octavia RS TSI recently, I was hoping for a major improvement.
One of the things I criticised the diesel RS about was the styling of the facelift. The awkward new dual head light really poked through in the Race Blue Metallic paint work. This was not the case for the TSI. Painted in Black Metallic, the face looked sleeker and more fluent than that of the diesel. Inside, it’s the same affair as the diesel. The 9.2-inch finger print-smudge prone touch screen housed the Sat Nav., Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Skoda Connect and the reversing camera. The black alcantara seats, with RS logos stitched into the all-in-one headrest, hug you in all right ways in the corners and are easily adjustable for longer journeys.
I’ve banged on about my experience driving a Mk5 Volkswagen Golf GTI more times than once and here it goes again. This RS TSI really brought back that experience for me. The DSG gearbox is what made my GTI experience so memorable. The pops and bangs from the exhaust made me giggle during my test drive of it. The same goes for the RS, but with computers ‘n’ stuff. Let me explain, like with many modern sports cars, the sound of the exhaust is pumped through the speakers into the cabin making the overall experience feel more engaging. Flicking the vRS switch on the centre console to Sport, my GTI experience was relived. Down shifts were dramatic from the 7-speed DSG and the acceleration powerful as I threw it around some short and quick bends.
As standard, the Skoda Octavia RS TSI has Pirelli P-Zeros. I have had these on my own MINI Cooper S and never liked them and I felt grip in the wet was very poor. However, they suited the Octavia so in the wet, I felt grip was not compromised. Last Christmas, I spent three weeks with a Octavia RS TDI 4x4. To this day, I still think that if it had been a petrol it would be the only car I would ever need. But, Volkswagen Group are clever about these things. If they were to equip the Golf GTI or Skoda Octavia RS with four-wheel drive, Volkswagen Golf R and Skoda Superb Sportline sales would be impinged. Be this as it may, I would still welcome the idea of an Octavia RS TSI 4x4.
With the facelift, the engine has also received a tune. That being 15hp. The previous RS had 230hp but now with 245hp and an extra 20Nm to give a torque figure of 370Nm, the RS does feel impressively quick. Flicking the gearstick over to manual-mode, makes the experience a little more engaging. Annoyingly though, the flappy paddles aren’t so flappy or paddley as they more pressy, buttony. In English, the bland, button feel to the paddles on the steering wheel to allow you change gear yourself, aren’t fun and engaging. Similarly, it doesn’t hold at red line so you aren’t fully in control. It’s all a very serious and controlled environment.
The Octavia RS TSI starts from €40,215 with this specced up one coming in at €42,765. Compare this starting price to a similar Golf GTI and you are saving over €1,500. “Bang for your buck” would be a fitting saying. The tax bill equates to €390. The RS TSI returned 9.1l/100km, the diesel returned roughly 8.0l/100km. The last time I drove the 2016 Skoda Octavia vRS TSI, I was returning 8.1l/100km.
Overall, the 2018 Skoda Octavia RS TSI is one car that can be commended. It’s becoming increasingly popular so much so that it is almost the second choice to the Golf GTI. It is apparent that Skoda really know what they’re doing. They are using the knowledge of it’s parent brand to improve on something already good. There is plenty of choice to be had between body styles, engines and transmissions. The Octavia RS TSI isn’t without it’s flaws but for the value for money is not to be sneered at.