Test Drive: Skoda Octavia Combi 2.0 TSI DSG7 RS: measured enthusiasm

The modern Octavia was launched 25 years ago and the  fourth generation is now available. Despite the current health crisis, it remains the Czech automotive brand’s best-seller. The RS version we tested for you is only available with powerful engines. Our test TSI-engined car makes do with 245 BHP and even the 2.0 TDI Diesel offers no less than 200 bhp. Due to the lack of components, the PHEV version is currently no longer available… and we won’t cry!

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A Skoda estate always means generous interior and load space volume. However, the iVth iteration of the car that disappeared (momentarily?) reduced the latter by 150 litres, no less. We’re not talking about the 10 litres capacity lost by the fuel tank. As you will see, testing the  petrol version is no punishment at all. As a reminder, this RS shares its powertrain with Her Majesty the Golf GTI- namely the 245 bhp 2.0 – EA888 engine mated to the usual 7-speed DSG transmission. Suspension wise, there are McPherson struts up front while a semi-rigid axle takes place at the back. The Volkswagen group excels in mastering such set ups and totally safe road holding is a given. Our test car was even a step ahead, being fitted with dynamic suspension control and selectable driving modes.

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I like it

This 4th generation Octavia brings along high connectivity and digitalization levels. The MIB system is now widely found on all Volkswagen Group cars. In the past, it could prove temperamental but now seems to work rather well. Of course, you must first master its digital workings. On the other hand, we appreciate the RS version neat fit and finish. There are stitchings throughout the interior, Alcantara on the dashboard and door panels, the steering wheel is nicely wrapped in leather and the seats’ perfect design  offer a successful compromise between sportiness and comfort.

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Quite clever

While we expect a Golf GTI to be overloaded with nice sensations and feelings for the driver, we must admit this is less the case with a Skoda Octavia Estate, even in RS guise. Because, on the one hand, it is a fine, comfy car with loads of interior roominess and high versatility but also… because it does not have the same heritage as the Golf GTI. We really liked this Czech wagon fitted with a powerful and flexible engine, allowing it to quickly leave behind any hazardous situation.

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I don’t like it

The widely used DSG7 gearbox is no help for spirited driving. True, it matches the engine perfectly in most situations… however, when you choose the Sport mode, you quickly realize you are short-changed when it comes to manually shifting gears via the (too small) paddles hidden behind the steering wheel. Just forget about this “sport” thing and the gearbox will be fully adequate most of the time.

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Why I buy it

Obviously, those in the know will tell you that it’s totally irresponsible to choose a car with more than 200 hp in this day and age. Taxes, insurance, fuel prices, not to mention the congested roads, are all reasons not to be tempted by this Octavia Combi RS. However, on top of its brilliant drivetrain (helped by its limited slip differential), this Skoda also retains all the traditional virtues usually associated with the brand: roominess, versatility and a huge load volume. Plus all those little thoughtful details that have endeared the owners to it for more than 25 years now.

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Why I don’t buy it

Starting from € 47,050,  “our” Octavia Combi RS eventually comes up to € 58,099 including the panoramic sunroof (€ 1,200), the head-up display (€ 750), the dynamic suspension control (€ 860), the Travel Assist (€ 700), the electrically opening boot (€ 970), the 19 inch wheels (€ 800).  The priciest extra is the RS1 Pack which costs € 4, 150 and includes, among other things, a 360° rear camera, 3-zone air conditioning, front camera and distance sensor, COLUMBUS navigation system, PARK ASSIST, mobile phone induction charger and front fogs with cornering light. True, that’s a nearly endless kit list but it nevertheless means footing an expensive bill, especially for a Skoda. On top of that, you’ll also have to budget for fuel if you’re eager and willing to take advantage of the 245 horsepower available. Hopefully, the 200 BHP 2.0 TDI diesel version should prove to be less thirsty… (Translation: Dimitri Urbain)

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