Five-door with more

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - CARSGUIDE - Richard Black­burn

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.

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