Škoda Octavia RS 2022 Review : Červená Raketa
Singapore - For those who are familiar with the previous Škoda Octavia RS, they’d know that the high performance sedan checks many boxes, fulfilling the requirements of many a value-conscious Singaporean buyer. Its replacement, we feel, does all of that, and then some.
The Czech automotive brand is well known for building cars, often blessed with greater practicality, when compared to its competitors. The new Škoda Octavia we recently deployed to jailbreak a Christmas tree from our TopGear hideout, was spacious enough to fit the four of us with ease, had enough grunt (150hp and 250Nm) to make a quick getaway (since we had our colleagues’ pressies in tow), and cruised on the highway, with comfort almost rivalling cars a class larger.
And on this base, the RS-badged Octavia is built upon. There are some carry-overs from the previous car, like the excellent EA888 2.0 TSI engine, though with some reshaping to the piston crowns and a new crankshaft seal to reduce friction - all of this for improved efficiency. Power and torque figures remain the same, at 245hp and 370Nm respectively, and drive is put through the front wheels via a 7-speed DSG.
The Škoda Octavia RS, stands out from its bread-and-butter brethren, with a black framed grille, and aggressively styled front apron, gloss black window frames, and 19-inch alloys. The rear-end gets decked out with a spoiler and black ‘Škoda’ text, as opposed to silver on the regular car. You also get sportier twin polished stainless steel tail pipes, and a reworked rear apron, complete with a gloss black diffuser. The car also sits 15mm lower, due to a different set of shock absorbers.
One of the first things which we noticed was the obvious jump in quality once we entered the car. There is greater attention placed on materials used, and that includes the dash, with its fabric-coated surface. In the RS-badged car, Škoda had chosen to go with red stitching for both the dash and seat fabric. The Octavia car now also utilises a shift-by-wire selector, similar to the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf, which in-turn reduces the clutter at the centre console area. The 10-inch infotainment screen, which is now a free-standing unit, features an RS-specific welcome animation when you start the engine, just to remind you that you are in Škoda’s go-quicker compact car.
Those who have a habit of connecting their mobile devices to their infotainment system, would be pleased to know that the Columbus unit supports both Apple and Android devices wirelessly. Like all other Octavia variants, the RS also gets a wireless mobile phone charger, but unlike the one in the Golf GTI, which sits east-west, and has a flap to prevent your device from flying away while you “build your Gs” around corners. The one in the Octavia, sits north-south, and does not include a flappity-flappity-flap. The 10.25-inch Virtual Cockpit also has a RS-specific layout, featuring a rev-counter, which spans across the screen.
What I appreciate about Škoda’s Octavia RS, is that getting there does not mean that the car feels like it only wants to get there quickly and only quickly will do. There are five different drive modes, and if you switch to ‘Individual’ the Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) has fifteen stages of bump-damping intensity, for you to finely tune how you would like the road to meet your bum (something you would probably set once and then leave it alone… the DCC, not your bum).
In both ‘Comfort’ and ‘Normal’ drive modes, the Octavia RS delivers similar comfort to the regular car, though there is more torque from that 2.0 up-front, and you have larger rims. Flick the drive mode over to ‘Sport’ and the suspension stiffens up, but not to a point that the car gets uncomfortable.
We got the Launch Control on, and had Octavia RS take off without much protest in first gear, with its 370Nm quickly building up to get the car off the line, and chirping the wheels in the process, once the bulk of its weight is carried forward. With the wet season back again, and damp tarmac below us, the Octavia RS hopped into second, squealing its front wheels again as they fought to take the next wave of torque, and quickly, we were at highway speeds. On full whack, the Octavia RS clocks 100km/h in 6.7 seconds, which is pretty quick. But that said, it is the slowest to reach the mark among the “hot” European compacts on offer. The Volkswagen Golf GTI does this in 6.4 seconds, while the higher-powered CUPRA Leon clocks 5.7 seconds, and is matched by the Renault Megane R.S. which is powered by a smaller 1.8 litre engine. The blunted performance is due to the added weight... I mean space that the Octavia RS is endowed with.
There is a new electronic limited-slip differential fitted on the car, that houses a 6th generation electro-hydraulic multi-plate clutch, designed to handle up to 1600Nm, and it works its magic in both ‘Normal’ and ‘Sport’ drive modes. We slipped the RS through a few turns and were impressed by how it happily obliged with maintaining its line. In-fact, it is very forgiving, since there is just so much grip from those front wheels, and for a front-driven car, very little understeer.
The rear suspension, a multilink rear axle, as opposed to the simpler torsion beam on the 1.5, tames that rear end, and this helped to keep the Octavia RS planted and pointed in the right direction, even over uneven surfaces.
But while all is good, there is that fake sporty engine noise which was also found in the previous car, and I personally think is an overkill. There is a speaker placed behind the dash, which bellows a baritone crossplane V8 sound into the cabin. And if driven long enough, one of (or both of) two things would probably happen, one is that it drives you absolutely crazy, and the other, that it annoyingly rattles the In-Vehicle Unit (IU). Fortunately, you can rid yourself of this, switching it off within the custom drive mode menu. And once you set the car up the way you like it, the Octavia RS is truly quite remarkable.
And for those who need more in a car, well because family… It is class-leading in passenger and boot space (600 litres for the latter), and it is loaded with features like Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), an electric liftback style tailgate complete with a kick-operated Virtual Pedal.
And it is safe too, with eight airbags, including one between the driver and front passenger. There are also active safety features, utilising the car’s surrounding sensors which includes a personal favourite - Exit Warning, which visually and acoustically warns occupants if a collision might happen when opening the car’s doors.
Check out Jay's first driving impressions here
Elsewhere, the Octavia RS is also offered as a Combi, and maybe… just maybe. Škoda Singapore might just bring us a limited run of the Combi variant.
But for now the sedan/liftback/hatchback/fastback version of the Skoda Octavia RS retails for $100 less than $200,000, no thanks to our lofty COE.
PHOTOS Clifford Chow & Škoda Singapore
2022 Skoda Octavia RS 2.0 TSI
Engine 1984cc, inline4, turbo
Transmission 7spd dual-clutch DSG
Top Speed 250km/h
Fuel Consumption 6.5l/100km (combined)