The Skoda Octavia uses the same underpinnings as the Volkswagen Golf, so there is no surprise to hear that the 2018 Skoda Octavia RS is similar to the Volkswagen Golf GTD. When I drove the pre-facelift Octavia RS last year, I enjoyed it and even recommended it over the Volkswagen Golf variant. However, is the facelifted Octavia RS worth the same look in as the previous one?
Seeing as this is a facelift, the face is the main difference on this car. Gone are single headlights and in are old-school dual headlamps. Controversial in my eyes though. In pictures, the front looks awkward. But in person, it looks miles better. I still don’t think the change is enough to win me over. Also as part of the refresh is the fact that the radar has been built into the grill, under the Skoda badge.
Moving inside, it is mostly familiar except for the new infotainment system. Skoda has given us the 9.2 Columbus infotainment system. Good news for Apple and Android users as both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto feature on this system. The touch screen unit’s aesthetic is very much like the Apple iPhone, no buttons are present. It is a nice looking and easy to use system. Responsiveness and feedback from the screen is decent but not flawless.
The cloth and alcantara sports seats are comfortable enough for long journeys but also hug you enough if you are treating yourself to a Sunday morning hoon. To contrast with the black seats is black headlining. The general feel of the whole interior is a good one. The layout of the cabin is neatly designed. At night, there are mood lighting stripes along the doors to add to the ambiance.
The main reason you would buy an RS over the regular 2.0TDI is for the driveability. This what Skoda has focused on when developing this car. Paired with a 6-speed DSG automatic gearbox, the 2.0TDI engine delivers the 184hp and 380Nm through the front wheels. Although this is the traditional layout for a warm hatch, there is a 4x4 variant which I think gets the power to the road better. In this front-wheel drive, the power is transferred to the road in a similar sudden burst. When you plant your foot, the engine and gearbox takes a second to think. In this time; the gearbox is selecting a lower gear and the engine is spooling the turbo. Once it is ready, the car launches from 0-100km/h in 7.9 seconds.
In a warm hatch, steering feel and handling is just as important as putting down the power efficiently. The Skoda Octavia RS’s steering is responsive in Normal and Sport driving modes but less engaging in Eco. The Octavia RS benefits from a sport chassis but even with this, there is an ounce of body roll. The RS has a ride height of 141mm whereas the Volkswagen Golf GTD, on which it’s based, sits at 133mm. This is noticeable, the car looks like it sits unusually high.
But for what you get, the Skoda Octavia RS is a good deal. Priced from €34,450, it’s cheaper than the Volkswagen Golf GTD at €39,495 and the Focus ST at €39,900. Emissions come in at 129g/km equalling a €270 tax bill.
The Skoda Octavia RS remains a good buy. It has the same power and similar driveability as the Golf GTD but at a cheaper price. However, if you can find a pre-facelift with low mileage and a decent spec, I would put my money towards it instead.