2020 Skoda Octavia RS 245 road test review
As we wind this year down, very few of us will look back at it with any sense of fondness. But driving a car that you didn't think you'd ever get your hands on, and one with a reputation such as the one the Skoda Octavia RS 245 carries, we'll take that as a nice goodbye gift from 2020. Launched just when the pandemic turned our world over, all units of the hot Skoda Octavia RS 245 were accounted for until the economic downturn that followed led to some cancellations. Lucky for you and us, there's now a few of them still going around.
2020 Skoda Octavia RS 245: What's different
This is the run-out special Octavia RS 245, 200 of which were brought in as CBUs to cap off this generation of the Octavia and to satiate buyers who couldn't get their hands on the earlier batch of 250 cars in 2017. As the name suggests, power from the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol has been bumped up to 245PS, a 15PS increase over the previous car. Torque has been bumped up too, by 20 Nm to a potent 370 Nm. The result is a significant drop in the 0 to 100 kmph time to 6.3s, from the 6.7s of the RS 230.
Another major change is that the old DQ250 six-speed DCT has been replaced by the newer seven-cogged DQ500, as seen on Skoda-VW's newest offerings. Equally pertinent is the new VAQ electronic limited-slip differential on the front axle and the 30mm wider rear track.
Skoda Octavia RS 245 Styling
The Octavia RS 245 looks racier than ever, largely down to the upsized 18-inch wheels lined with the serious 225/40 rubber and the model-specific red brake callipers. Combine this with the ride height being lowered by 15mm (but 15mm more than the international-spec RS 245), the Octavia RS 245 is by far the best-looking iteration of this generation of the Octavia. The RS-specific three-part bumper with the wide LED foglamps and gloss black grille seem to pair more cohesively with the controversial split headlamps that came with the facelift. At the rear, the austere gloss black spoiler, and the rear bumper with the functional chrome-lined tailpipes and full-width reflectors leave you in no doubt of its potency, while still being restrained enough to not be uncouth.
In fact, this final iteration of the current Octavia highlights the sense of agelessness that has been such a strong focus of Skoda's design language. This generation has managed to look and feel contemporary while rivals have come and gone for the better part of seven years now, no mean feat.
Skoda Octavia RS 245 Driving Impressions
Pottering around in the city, going about your daily routine, the Octavia RS 245 is striking in the way it handles the mundane. Sure, there is a bit more heft to the steering wheel and the pedals are a bit more alert, but other than this you could be driving any other Octavia. The multilink rear suspension setup of the RS 245, mechanically the same as the discontinued standard Octavia but retuned(India-specific) for a sportier drive, feels more pliant over sharp, low-speed bumps than the standard car. The larger wheels and tires add a tinge of firmness to the ride, but there's none of that slight choppiness that we complained of in the regular Octavia. With 141mm of ground clearance, the Octavia RS245 even has an answer to the worst that our speed-breaker gods have in store for it.
It's the same sense of ease with the engine and gearbox. There's only a distant rumble to be heard, the turbo-petrol and DCT melding into the background. Whether in traffic or on the highway, there's a solidity and linearity in the progress that'll be very familiar if you've driven any of the MQB platform cars from the VW Group. At highway speeds, there is a touch more tire noise expectedly, but the wider track means that the Octavia RS 245 feels very planted. The 250 kmph top-speed seems perfectly attainable if you ever get the chance.
Skoda Octavia RS 245 Ride and Handling
Point the RS 245 to a string of corners and things turn almost surreal. This is more or less completely down to the new VAQ electronic limited-slip differential fitted to this car. This system is essentially an electronically-operated hydraulic clutch pack that sits in the front axle. The system senses the wheel speed, yaw rate and steering angle to send up to 100 per cent of the engine's torque to the wheel with the most grip.
In effect, this makes even a relative novice like myself feel like a pro behind the wheel. The LSD lets you enter a corner tighter than you would otherwise dare and get on the power much earlier than you would otherwise think possible. It's very effective at nullifying understeer, the Octavia RS245 will hold its line regardless of how or where you enter a corner. Many new FWD cars use a variation of this tech now, but the one in the Octavia RS 245 makes this intervention feel the most natural and progressive. Although, ask too much of it and there is a distinct sense of the system fighting physics.
As for the rest of the package, it complements this agility well. In Sport mode, the steering becomes heftier, bringing more control to an already precise setup. Throttle response in any mode is quite eager and that becomes further accentuated here by the gearbox keeping the turbo spooled up at all times. It will rev the engine right to the redline, making the best of an already quite wide powerband. There's a stirring induction thrumble in the cabin, pepper with growls on the upshift. Even body roll is very well controlled, with just a touch of lean. We only wish the gearbox was a bit keener when tasked with heavy downshifts, but taking manual controls through the paddles solves that problem pretty quickly. As for slowing this racy Octavia down, the very effective uprated brakes feel largely linear to use with only a slight remnant of the sharp initial pedal response from the standard car.
Skoda Octavia RS 245 Interiors
The Octavia RS 245's interiors do well to convey its sporting aspirations. The all-black cabin is highlighted by faux carbon-fibre on the door sills and centre console. Other touches are the grippy flat-bottomed RS steering wheel, metal-finished pedals and unique red-themed graphics for the digital instrumentation and touchscreen.
Most striking though are the Alcantara sports seats, These one-piece buckets in the front are firm and supportive while still being comfortable. But those of a wider frame may find the heavy bolstering a bit intrusive. The Octavia was never kind to the third rear passenger and with the indents in the second row for the two passengers this situation has been exasperated. Other than this, the Octavia's rear seat continues to be as spacious and supportive as ever.
Notable equipment here is dual-zone climate control, panoramic sunroof, multi-colour ambient lighting, 12-way electrically adjustable front seats, hands-free parking and nine airbags. But with this being the flagship of the Skoda sedan range we were also expecting a branded audio system and a 360-degree camera.
Skoda Octavia RS 245 Verdict
We can't think of another car that manages to find as good a balance between everyday practicality and performance in our conditions as the Skoda Octavia RS 245. The RS is fast and exciting when you need it to be and comforting and luxurious when you don't. A big part of its appeal so far has come from how it was priced, well within reach of the average luxury car buyer. But with the new one priced at just over Rs 45 lakh on-road, the Octavia RS 245 isn't quite the no-brainer it always was. Especially when you consider that the BMW 330i is now within snapping distance. But as a car that brings a smile to your face every time you drive it, the Octavia RS 245 holds its ground stronger than ever.
Skoda Octavia RS 245 Real-world performance and efficiency
Starts Rs 16 Lakhs