Q to a T

Q car, stealth fighter — the new RS is a wolf in ca­sual cloth­ing

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive - TIM VAUGHAN CARS­GUIDE DEPUTY ED­I­TOR tim.vaughan@cars­guide.com.au

IT’S chips or straws, a toss-up be­tween the petrol DSG and the diesel man­ual ver­sions of Skoda’s Oc­tavia RS, due in Aus­tralia next month.

The turbo two­some prom­ise sporty motoring, VW Group qual­ity, dis­tinc­tive styling and, rel­a­tively, a dis­count sticker.

Back­ing the RS sport­ing claims, the badge first ap­peared on a Skoda 130 rally car in 1975, then was af­fixed to an Oc­tavia 16 years ago.

The maker is keen to up­hold this con­nec­tion with the lat­est crop, which doesn’t overdo it on the ex­te­rior trap­pings the way some wannabes do.

But for the plus‒size al­loys and red brake calipers, they could al­most pass for Q cars. Skoda reck­ons the RS will ac­count for bet­ter than 10 per cent of Oc­tavia sales.

VALUE

We’re guess­ing a low‒mid $40K start­ing price (and will be wiser closer to the lo­cal launch).

The Oc­tavias — lift­back and “combi” wagon — may not have the badge al­lure of the Golf GTI cousin, with which it shares ev­ery­thing un­der the skin, but calls to Cars­guide’s land­line show that the badge sure has its fans.

The RS en­hances the engines, run­ning gear, in­te­rior and tech of what the Czech project guys like to call the “se­rial” Oc­tavia, al­ready a well‒fet­tled item.

TECH­NOL­OGY

Vari­able ra­tio steer­ing is a first in the Oc­tavia line‒up. There are xenon head­lights and LED run­ning lights, XDS elec­tric diff lock, sports tuned sus­pen­sions, en­gine note en­hancer and, in the wagon, a power tail­gate.

But what about the engines — 2.0-litre turbo fours with plenty more poke and, rel­a­tive to the pre­de­ces­sors, sub­stan­tially re­duced thirst?

The petrol TSI (162kW/ 350Nm) is good for 6.8 sec­onds for the 0‒100kmh sprint and tops out at 248km/h.

The diesel TDI (135kW/ 380Nm) is the most pow­er­ful oiler in a Skoda to date.

De­signed for the Oc­tavia by Ger­man spe­cial­ist Can­ton, the 570W au­dio has 10 speak­ers in­clud­ing sub­woofer.

DE­SIGN

Call it sporty space. Skoda works its cus­tom­ary mumbo with the in­te­rior pack­ag­ing: there’s a ton of abun­dantly ac­ces­si­ble room (lift­back 590L‒1580L, wagon 610L‒ 1740L) within the slick pro­file and the wind­screen pil­lars are slim and at­trac­tive.

The Skoda cor­po­rate nose is more finely chis­elled in this it­er­a­tion of the Oc­tavia and the bumper is set lower.

As for the rear, it won’t of­fend Al­lah with its per­fec­tion. Spoil­ers are mounted on the boot lid on the lift­back, tail­gate on the wagon, not too in­tru­sively — but they add to the busy as­sem­blage of diffuser, re­flec­tor and vis­i­ble chromed ex­haust tips that jars with the Oc­tavia’s tri­an­gle styling cues.

The “black pack­age” adds roof rails and mirro caps. In­side it’s a suite of the same colour, ei­ther leather or fab­ric com­bi­na­tion, the mono­chrome mit­i­gated by sil­ver or red stitch­ing. The steer­ing wheel, ser­vice­able and tac­tile, hints at the parts bin of a cheaper line.

A spe­cial note on the colour pal­ette. Grey with black al­loys is the horn combo.

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