Five-door with more
1 It’s a small package with a big engine
The RS wagon is not underdone in the performance stakes. It has the same 2.0-litre turbo four as the VW Golf GTI, punching out 162kW/350Nm — that’s 20 per cent more torque than a Holden Commodore V6. Skoda says the $39,590 hauler will do the 0-100km/h sprint in about seven seconds, aided by a superslick twin-clutch auto that bangs through the gears quicker than you could manage in a manual. A self-shifter costs $2300 less. Don’t bother.
2 It goes better than it sounds
The RS pipes fake engine noise into the cabin. It sounds, well, fake and we’d much rather put the window down and listen to what’s really coming from the exhaust. If that sounds like nit picking, we reckon sound is one of the most important elements of any sports car and the sooner this piping-in practice stops the better. Porsche does it too and it detracts from the driving experience. It’s a shame, because the VW group makes some sweet-sounding cars — the GTI and Audi RS3 among them.
3 It looks better from the driver’s seat
Styling is subjective but Skodas on the whole look a little oldfashioned. The RS wagon follows the theme with a square-jawed front and boxy silhouette. Inside it’s a different story, with a racy flat-bottomed leather-trimmed steering wheel, snug sports seats with red stitching and embossed logo and stylish graphics on the centre screen. For the revheads, there’s fake carbon-fibre.
4 It has a Jekyll and Hyde button
The RS can be tweaked to suit your mood. If you’re kicking back on the commute to work, it will purr along conserving fuel and cushioning you from potholes and bumps. Flick the switch to sport mode and the throttle is more sensitive, the transmission holds on to lower gears longer to improve punch out of corners, the suspension firms up for less body roll and more control ... and unfortunately also triggers that fake engine note.
5 It’s more fun and better value than a boring SUV
It adds the practicality of a compact SUV to the fun of a hot hatch. It has 45 per cent more luggage space than the topselling Mazda CX-5 and the engine puts out 42 per cent more power and 75 per cent more torque. Skoda’s electronic diff switches power to the wheel with the most traction coming out of corners, tucking the nose in and improving your exit. The biggest compliment: you hardly know it’s a wagon. In standard form it has adaptive cruise, automatic emergency braking, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.