SKODA OCTAVIA RS230
It’s well equipped and looks pretty tasty until you realise a GTI costs about the same. Little separates them mechanically, but the RS is larger and better equipped. Limited to 70 examples, it comes with a three year/ unlimited kilometre warranty, with the option to extend two years. Service is $1197 for three years/45,000km.
It’s a liftback disguised as a sedan. The beauty is that it doesn’t sacrifice practicality to performance, with four doors and one of the biggest boots in the business. The seats are comfortable with enough rear legroom to accommodate large adults. There’s an eight-inch touchscreen, with RS sport seats and badging. The handbrake is old school mechanical but it’s not a deal-breaker.
It shares the GTI’s 2.0-litre turbo, tuned to deliver 169kW/350Nm and with slightly wider torque curve. The 0-100km/h dash takes 6.7 seconds, mainly because it’s larger and 80kg heavier.
Also has stop-start, sips fuel at the rate of 6.3L/100km if driven sedately, but likes 98 RON. It’s manual only, which will limit its appeal.
Five stars for safety, with a very high 36.84/37 ANCAP. There’s a slight risk of serious injury to the pelvis in a side impact. Comes with nine airbags, auto emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and a reversing camera. Lane departure warning is a $1700 option pack. No blind spot alert.
Strong performance is underpinned by excellent ride and handling. Shares its trick diff with the GTI, which keeps power delivery smooth. RS mode button loosens the stability control and sharpens both throttle and gearbox response. Ultimately, being larger and heavier it’s not going to be quite as nippy as the GTI — but it’s still plenty of fun.