Initially, I needed to borrow an Octavia RS as the final word instance of the “good belongings you People can’t have”. However then I made a decision to not. I had three causes. First, the RS, in contrast to “odd” Skodas, isn’t available in any shade of brown. Second, I had already examined a diesel, guide wagon just lately. And third, the diesel wagon actually isn’t the Octavia RS you actually need. It’s a compromise, one thing you select as an organization automobile, as a result of gasoline engines are verbotten by your organization’s coverage and also you want the area for hauling stuff to your trip residence every weekend.
As a substitute, I opted for the closest factor Skoda has to a sportscar; the Octavia RS with the two.0 TSI/220hp engine, 6-speed guide transmission, and a liftback physique. The selection of the engine was type of apparent – if you’d like “sporty”, you don’t need diesel. It doesn’t matter what diesel followers will let you know, diesels are at all times rattly, reluctant to rev and heavy, in comparison with the gasoline counterparts. They might be miracles in comparison with their predecessors from twenty years in the past, however if you’d like a enjoyable to drive automobile, you need it to burn the correct gas.
And the physique? Wagons are cool, and they’ll, someday, make their means again to America, as a result of they only make sense. However right here in Europe, we’ve got yet another physique fashion, which is even cooler than wagon. So cool that not even Jalopnik readers find out about it. It’s known as a liftback. From the skin, it seems to be very like a contemporary sedan, with a extremely brief trunk. However whenever you open the trunk – voilá! – the entire rear hatch opens.
You say it’s like wagon, simply much less sensible? Properly, probably not. For one, it doesn’t look like a wagon, which is outwardly necessary to some individuals – even in Europe. And for a second, it’s probably not that impractical. In some methods, it’s possibly even extra sensible.
Whereas the liftback affords a bit much less area than a wagon (and is a bit worse in case you wish to transport actually excessive objects or stack stuff as much as the roof), it has this HUGE trunk opening. Wagons, even pretty giant ones, require you to push stuff inside them. Which is usually a little bit of ache with stuff like bicycles. A Liftback permits you to simply place the factor inside from above – or attain over the edges, when you, for instance, want to maneuver the bicycle to the within of the automobile, so you possibly can shut the trunk. In different phrases, liftbacks rock!
So, what do we’ve got right here? Mainly, the Octavia is Europe’s tackle Jetta (sure, the true Jetta is bought right here as effectively, however nobody actually buys it). In contrast to the Jetta, it’s primarily based on present era of Golf and never the earlier one, so it makes use of the brand new MQB modular system, mainly the identical engine line-up as Golf, it has a virtually an identical suspension and the identical digital structure. The radio/satellite tv for pc navigation line-up to the flowery trendy gizmos like adaptive cruise, lane help and computerized parking will be had in Octavia. The RS, then, will be seen as a barely bigger Golf GTI, with an enormous trunk.
However whenever you have a look at it, the phrase “Volkswagen” doesn’t actually pop up in your thoughts. The phrase that does, although, is “Audi”. The stance, the edgy strains, even the intense blue paint actually does make it appear to be a junior S4. Whereas the GTI remains to be type of youthful automobile that doesn’t attempt to conceal it’s comparatively humble origins, the Octavia RS appears to be geared toward individuals who aspire to personal this very automobile. Particularly right here, in its residence market, the $30k (with tax) Octavia RS is kind of a light luxurious.
The one distinction is that in Czech Republic, the RS will get extra consideration on the road than an Audi. And even than the City Automotive I drive. Or than absolutely anything else, in need of supercars, American classics or a sizzling rodded New York cab (I each day drove that, for a while). With Skoda being the one home automobile maker,with simply over 30 p.c market share, the Octavia itself is pretty ubiquitous. However the RS remains to be fairly new, and because it’s the highest model of a automobile everybody has, did have, thinks about having or aspires to, it actually will get individuals’s curiosity. It’s the Czech equal of a pony automobile or a flowery truck.
However I digress. Let’s cease trying, and take the factor for a drive. When you sit inside, the “junior Audi” thought re-establishes itself. Related design, comparable supplies, comparable tackle high quality – simply much less of every part. My particular bonus factors are awarded for the truth that the seats, whereas sporty, are flat sufficient to comfortably get out and in of, and that the steering wheel is spherical. My tremendous particular bonus factors are awarded to the MQB modular system for the low window line and comparatively slender A-pillars. In comparison with the Astra I examined beforehand, this makes the Octavia pleasantly straightforward to see out of.
At start-up, the engine doesn’t make a lot of a fuss, however throwing the candy shifter into first reveals gobs of torque from low down, making it nearly unattainable to stall. What made me extra anxious was the experience. The “sporty” VW merchandise, together with Audis, which this automobile tries to imitate, are typically on the tough aspect. And with 18” wheels (that are, by the way in which, extraordinarily fairly, and likewise very liable to scratching) on a comparatively small automobile, it is a purpose to fret. However the RS surprises right here. Whereas it’s positively not a plushy, cozy experience, it completely bearable even on the damaged metropolis surfaces I normally drive on. Whereas it seems to be rather more aggressive than final month’s Astra, it’s received sufficient floor clearance to not scratch beneath any regular circumstances. Good, habitable and rational. Simply as a Skoda ought to be.
What’s a bit much less rational is the driving fashion this automobile invokes. On this nation, Octavia RS drivers are often called one of many greatest jerks on the highway – up there with Audi drivers. It’s straightforward to see why. The automobile works prefer it was designed so that you can drive like a complete asshole. Whereas 220hp doesn’t sound like a lot, the ever current torque actually helps, and the RS has a means of disguising velocity that makes you drive like a complete lunatic and never even give it some thought. You’re simply leaving the site visitors lights like a traditional, sane individual, when the little satan contained in the automobile simply whispers to you “See that hole between the gradual automobile within the left lane and one other gradual automobile in the correct lane? You may completely slot in there!”. And earlier than it, you’re weaving out and in of site visitors at twice the posted velocity restrict. It takes some restraint to begin driving like a traditional individual once more.
And this theme continues whenever you go away the town limits. Most of all, the RS is tremendous straightforward to drive quick. The mixture of torque, the traction offered by the XDS (a faux digital LSD within the entrance), the grip and the soundness helps you to cowl the bottom at enormous charges of velocity, with out the automobile asking something again. Between the XDS and the unkillable ESP, it’s a automobile that your grandmother might drive stupidly quick. A 100+ mph run on backroads? No downside. And no drama.
It’s even fairly straightforward on fuel. You will get over 35mpg in actual life, it you’re driving sanely (e.g. in a means that gained’t put you in jail), round 20mpg throughout “barely spirited” metropolis driving, and possibly 15-16mpg on the backroads, driving within the method that would positively put you in jail Stateside.
Which sounds completely nice. Nevertheless it additionally reveals an awesome downside for a few of us. That the Octavia RS isn’t even just a little bit like home made mayonnaise, and that it doesn’t resemble an computerized watch within the slightest.
What I’m blabbing about? Let me clarify.
The “petrolheads”, or driving lovers, are like every other lovers on the planet. They need two issues. They wish to stand out of the gang by incomes issues, and so they need issues to not be faux. Like foodies, who will spend their lives perfecting their good recipie for artisanal Sriracha mayonnaise, as an alternative of simply going out and shopping for bottled, mass produced stuff. They do it as a result of the home made stuff is healthier, but additionally as a result of they just like the problem, and so they just like the notion that they’re simply higher than these odd people who don’t know any higher than going to the grocery store. Or you possibly can examine them to look at lovers, who will spend unbelievable quantities of cash on watches that, ultimately, do their job considerably worse than a $20 Casio. They are going to despise something with “Quartz” written on it, as a result of it’s not actual watch. And so they put excessive worth on the producer making its personal actions, as a result of utilizing another person’s, not matter how good watch you set them into, is simply “not proper”.
And that is the place the issues with Octavia RS come to gentle.
You may have your electronics that can assist you keep on the highway, and pretend digital LSD, serving to you get a great deal of traction, but additionally disrupting already synthetic (or, ahem, faux) steering really feel. In onerous cornering, the steering wheel typically will get heavy whenever you would count on it to be gentle. You will get used to it, however it’s probably not the reference to the automobile you actually need. A minimum of the short engine responses make it fairly straightforward to do non-fake heel and toe throttle blips, though the pedals aren’t effectively positioned to do this, with the accelerator being too far under and to the correct.
After which there’s the sound. Within the “sport” mode, one thing known as a “efficiency sound generator” is lively, emitting deep, faux engine sounds from the speaker someplace on the firewall. Not solely is it faux – it even sounds worse than the pure, raspy engine sound within the “regular” mode. Fortunately, this function is non-compulsory and you’ll keep away from it. In truth, I’d be prepared to pay for it to not be there.
The “faux” theme continues with the design as effectively. There are faux exhaust suggestions, faux grilles and pretend inlets within the entrance bumper.
Should you’re on the lookout for honesty, driving enjoyment and tactile expertise, you’ll be higher off in a a lot slower and cheaper Skoda Speedy. The Octavia RS is not the automobile for petrolheads. It’s not a automobile for individuals who spend on a regular basis serious about vehicles and driving.
It’s, although, an ideal automobile for somebody who likes quick vehicles, want to have a automobile that’s quick, and likes different individuals to see that he has a quick automobile, however isn’t prepared to sacrifice something to the thought. For a similar worth, a Renault Clio RS (a minimum of the earlier era), a used M3 or a Miata will get you a lot, rather more reward from getting your driving proper. The Octavia RS will probably be an ideal selection for a household man, who needs to appease his mid-life disaster, however isn’t in place to purchase a devoted sportscar. With this, he can have a bright-coloured, lightning quick machine, and an inexpensive household automobile – multi function fairly priced package deal.
@VojtaDobes is motoring journalist from Czech Republic, who beforehand labored for native editions of Autocar and TopGear magazines. Immediately, he runs his personal web site, www.Autickar.cz and serves as editor-in-chief at www.USmotors.cz. After a failed journey with importing basic American vehicles to Europe, he’s completely broke, so he drives a borrowed Lincoln City Automotive. His earlier vehicles included a 1988 Caprice in NYC Taxi livery, a hot-rodded Opel Diplomat, two Dodge Coronets, a Simca, a Fiat 600 and Austin Maestro. He has by no means owned a diesel, guide wagon.