CarsMotormouth Reviews

Octavia has some roar power

Skoda Octavia
Skoda Octavia

Skoda Octavia RS230

Performance cars are expensive, impractical, usually uncomfortable, and always hard to run. That’s not completely true though. Take Skoda’s Octavia RS – in combi form with the 2.0TDi (184bhp) engine, it’s the best all-round performance package for families.

You can have your cake and eat it, and the RS is a cake even Mary Berry would be proud of. But if the oil burner just isn’t enough, then Skoda has you covered with a 220bhp 2.0-litre petrol version. It’s a brilliant car that has real performance and enough room for all the family.

If 220bhp isn’t enough, then Skoda has that base covered as well. They’ve brought out a special edition RS230, which isn’t that hard to work out that it has 230 thoroughbreds under the bonnet. But it’s not just horsepower that makes this version special. It’s got a limited slip diff and a throaty exhaust that sounds as good as the car looks.

Think about this like a Golf GTi with performance pack – but having the ability to carry five passengers in comfort and their luggage also. This could be the ultimate fast family car (unless you have deep pockets for an Audi RS6 avant). I put the Golf GTi in my top three cars, and the best hot hatch you can currently buy.

This RS230 has me thinking though. You get pretty much the same performance, ok, the Octavia is a little heavier, but in truth, you won’t really tell the difference unless you are doing track days. The GTi handles better as it’s lighter and shorter but the Octavia has the practicality the GTi lacks. Oh – and there’s a small matter of a few grand saving on the RS230.

You’ll still have the badge snobs saying it’s a Skoda – but get over it, the Octavia is one of the best cars on the road, and my current favourite motor is the new Superb.

This special edition RS230 is car that ticks a lot of boxes, but the main ones have to be driving and performance. It excels in both areas, and the noise from the upgraded exhaust, makes it sound like something much more exotic and faster. It’s still bloody quick for a 2.0-litre.

I was worried that the RS230 wouldn’t get near the Golf GTi in terms of handling, but it wasn’t that far off being exceptional. The GTi does feel a little more nimble in the corner, but with the addition of an electronic differential lock XDS, the RS230 gets even greater traction, thus reducing the tendency to understeer.

The Octavia RS230 is geared up to be a performance car, and it handles brilliantly in the bends with little body roll. The suspension is stiff enough to allow you to carry speed in the corner but it’s also supple enough to give you comfort on a normal family day out.

The RS230 is really well equipped and the star of the interior is the bucket seats that provide excellent support as well as comfort. There’s 18-inch alloys as standard (my test car had 19s, which didn’t affect the ride too much), bi-xenon headlights with LED and upgraded exhaust, which sounds awesome.

I wouldn’t expect the Octavia RS230 to sell in big numbers, as the diesel-powered model is much gentler on the pocket. It is a great option if you don’t want to join the GTi club and, you fit a fair few sets of golf clubs in the boot.

The revival of the hot hatch is starting to take shape in Ireland, with plenty of new metal on offer. Skoda’s RS is a bit of a sleeper among the usual GTi, ST and Cupra brigade, but don’t count it out, in special edition RS230 guise, it could be the one to get your pulse racing.


Model: Skoda Octavia RS230 2.0TSi

Price: €36,500

Road tax: A4 €

0-100kph: 6.7s

Max speed: 250kph

Fuel economy: 6.4 litres per 100km

Luggage space:  litres


Paul Keown