We drove the 230 HP Skoda Octavia Combi RS: the delight of sportiness

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We vividly remember the roaring sound of the Skoda 130 RS coupés in the legendary Boucles de Spa, now decades ago. These works rally cars showed dramatically the craftmanship of these men in Mlada Boleslav. In 1986 the Skoda 130 almost won the legendary event in the Belgian ardennes, and this on Czech winter tires.

In the presently held Legend Boucles de Spa our rally master Freddy Loix is nowadays to be seen behind the wheel of the historic Skoda Group B 130…

And this sporting tradition continues in today’s production cars. Because the Skoda men fully know the secrets of designing and building a thoroughbred sporting car, with excellent handling and exhilarating performance.

The 230 HP Octavia Combi RS , being now the fastest production Skoda Octavia ever produced, showed this all the way again in our test. Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Already from its outer looks, this Octavia Combi 230 RS means business. The shining Steel Grey paint contrasts nicely with the black grille, black rearview mirrors and dual exhausts, and last but not least combines very well with the dramatic 19 inch Xtreme alloy wheels, painted in glossy black.

Sporting atmosphere…

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Inside, one finds satin black leather with red stitching, a satin black dashboard and black roof lining. All dramatically sporting, but not Spartan. Indeed, one finds luxury in this Octavia. Heated front seats, keyless entry, a big central touchscreen with straightforward controls and functions, an excellent navigation system, simple and intuitive to use. Everything about this Skoda is so logical and well thought out, that it sets in our eyes an example for many. Simply clever, the Skoda people say, and right they are.

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Our test car came with the so-called RS GPS traveler pack, which included besides the abovementioned navigation system also a wonderful DAB radio, with of course all the infotainment comfort like bluetooth, phone and even Wi-Fi connection. Above all, it has also the “performance mode” selection, and this gives your Octavia very different, magnificent personalities. But more about this later…

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With driver’s comfort…and delight

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Our test car additionally carried the RS Comfort package, with made motorway driving and making longer trips a delight. Indeed, the Adaptive Cruise Assistant worked very smoothly and progressively, urban parking was made easy with the Intelligent Parking Distance Assistant.

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But of course, delightful things start to happen when you push the starting button. The 2 liter TSI 230 HP engine comes to life with a pleasant sound, rather a deep throb. Blip the throttle and it roars and purrs like a thoroughbred, well-tuned rally engine. Shift the lever of the DSG box into “D” and ever so smoothly you drive away. No awkward jerkiness, indeed the box takes up the power very progressively.

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The Skoda people have understood it well, sportiness has nothing to do with any roughness or abruptness in the drivetrain, and whereas the DSG box reacts and shifts with lightning speed, it does so with velvety smoothness.

Accelerating with this Skoda RS is an exquisite experience. And this in any mode you select, be it Eco, Normal or Sport. Flooring the throttle will send the revs up, the engine howls in a beautiful staccato, and the box selects and changes the gears in split seconds, each gearchange producing a delicious “pop” in the two black exhausts.

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Things truly get going, and 100 kmh is reached in 6,7 seconds, hurtling further to a top speed of 250 kmh. The feeling of massive power being available immediately all the time pervades you, and makes fast but also slow urban driving a delight. In any situation, the car will respond instantly to any movement of your right foot.

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When choosing the “Eco” or “Normal” mode, the gearbox will choose the lower rev ranges, where impressive torque is available, enabling a powerful but very efficient drive. In these circumstances, even quite spirited driving will seldom cost more than 7 liters on 100 km. Selecting “Sport” will let the box choose revs, revs and revs. Even when pottering along at a constant 50 kmh in this mode, the box keeps the revs up to 3000 rpm in second gear, just to be ready to catapult forward should you put your right foot deeper. The engine redlines in the gears of course, and stays in them as long as it can, so you can use full engine pull and braking also when doing some serious work on windy roads. Of course, in the sports mode, the engine settings ae changed too…

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In all this, the progressive electric steering is also an absolute marvel, being precise and giving excellent feedback. The handling of the car is of course nothing short of superb, being neutral up to very high speeds. The brakes are of course also up to the job, and a word of praise is also fitting for the electronically controlled front axle inter wheel lock, (VAQ), a feature originally developed for motorsport.

The electronically controlled multiplate clutch is located between the differential and the right-hand side powered axle. When necessary, power can be directed 100 pct. to one of the front wheels, giving more traction and power to exit a corner.

Practical and economical

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Of course, with such a powerful car, your consumption depends even more than ever on your driving style. Driven with restraint, consumption will hover around the 6 liter mark, with the manufacturer quoting 6,2 liters /100 km as average, with CO2 emissions being 142 g/km.

On the practical side, the Octavia Combi earns of course high marks. Last but not least with its cavernous boot space, being 610 liters with the rear seat up, and 1740 liters with the rear seat folded down. Further amenities like a 12 Volt outlet in the boot space make life pleasant, along with the electrical opening of the boot lid and last but not least the glass panorama roof, appreciated in these early sunny spring days…

Conclusion

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A thoroughbred practical station wagon which breathes the uncanny expertise of the Skoda people when it comes to building a sporting car. Its pleasant, if not downright endearing sound, the deep throb, along with the formidable power, combined with excellent precision handling, balance and (mechanical) smoothness, all this makes this car truly stand out. You enjoy taking a short spin or long journey with this car, always sliding behind the wheel with a smile on your face, full of expectancy for the nice driving experience to come.

Last but not least, there is the build quality, the excellent engineering, which make it a car to have and own, for years on end, and enjoy every minute of it…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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