Carzone drives the fastest Skoda Octavia produced to date
Pros: Superb performance, incredibly practical, well equipped
Cons: Faster rivals, large wheels result in firm ride
We love hot hatch cars here at Carzone as they offer the practicality of an everyday family hatchback car, mixed with sports car performance. The Skoda Octavia VRS has been the most practical hot hatch on the market for a long time with its monstrous boot and range of petrol and diesel engines, but now there is a new upgraded version of the car which heats things up a little; welcome the RS 230. With a slight increase in power to 230hp, electrically adjustable suspension and a host of new styling features, the RS 230 makes for an enticing proposition on paper, but can it really match cars like the Volkswagen Golf GTi and Honda Civic Type R for sheer thrills?
What is it like?
The RS230 isn’t hugely different to the standard Octavia VRS in terms of exterior styling. New features such as a gloss black grille and door mirrors, a sports exhaust system, spoiler and 19-inch alloys with enlarged red brake callipers give the car a racier look. The version we drove is finished in a particularly eye-catching white and black colour combination means it will not be confused with a regular Skoda Octavia.
Inside the RS230 is noticeably better equipped with body-hugging electric leather sports seats and emblazoned with VRS logos, a built-in touch screen satellite navigation system and even a lap timer for those who venture onto track. The flat-bottomed steering wheel is also finished with red stitching and this is one of our favourite features. Completing the upgrades is privacy glass in the rear windows which works particularly well with the white on black colour combination.
The Skoda Octavia RS230 is powered by the same 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine as the standard VRS, but thanks to a new exhaust system and increased boost pressure, the power has been upgraded to 230hp. This means it accelerates faster; 0-100km/h takes 6.7 seconds with a top speed of 248km/h. While that’s not quite as fast as the new Volkswagen GTI, it is nonetheless exhilarating to drive.
Pressing the VRS button beside the gear lever allows you to select from different driving modes including eco, normal, sport and a custom setting mode, which allows you to manually change the exhaust sound, weight the steering, adjust the differential and more.Out test car features the six-speed manual gearbox which is precise and smooth, and there is also the option of Volkswagen’s DSG automatic transmission.
The Octavia RS 230’s wholesome torque delivery makes it incredibly fun to drive and means power is available throughout most of the rev range. It’s the first Skoda ever to feature an electronically controlled front axle inter-wheel lock and electronically-controlled multi-plate clutch which means power can be directed to one front wheel, resulting in more traction and grip. Handling is very impressive but perhaps not so much as other hot hatches like the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST, but that's to be expected. The larger 19-inch alloy wheels result in harder ride quality but it is still highly comfortable on most surfaces.
In terms of running costs, the Octavia RS230 is pretty reasonable. Annual road tax comes in at €390 and Skoda claims it can achieve in the region of 6.2 litres per 100km in fuel economy (45mpg). We managed slightly less but nonetheless found it to be certainly affordable to run as far as traditional hot hatches go. Those seeking better day-to-day economy should consider the diesel-powered Octavia VRS.
Prices for the Octavia RS230 in Ireland start from €35,995 which is quite competitive when you consider the amount of features it comes with. That price undercuts both the standard Volkswagen Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST, which aren’t as well equipped as the RS230. Whether the petrol-powered Octavia RS230 can hold residuals as strongly as its rivals remains to be seen though.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
The Octavia RS230 isn’t the fastest car in the hot hatch segment nor the most powerful, but it is nonetheless offers an impressive drive and makes for a great daily road car. If you are looking for your hot hatch to be more practical than most, with more focus than the regular Octavia RS, the RS230 is definitely worth considering. There are several examples for sale on Carzone right now, which you can search for using the search function.