Sporty models inspired by motorsport have long an inherent part of the Mladá Boleslav automaker. What is the difference between the character and driving features of Sportline and RS cars? Find out in our article.
In Škoda parlance, the word sporty doesn't mean a more distinctive exterior design. Whether we're talking about the Sportline trim line or the top-of-the-range RS designation, the engineers have always focused not only on design itself, but also on optimising aerodynamics, improving driveability and, last but not least, ergonomics of the seats and steering wheel. The Sportline, with several key equipment features and, above all, technical improvements, is available for a wide range of models from the spacious and versatile Karoq and Kodiaq SUVs to the best-selling Octavia, the luxurious Superb and the modern Enyqa iV electric car.
All Sportline versions can be recognised at a first glance by the front bumper with larger air intakes for the engine, the black radiator grille, the trim around the windows or the diffuser in the rear bumper. The black accents continue in the interior. The gloss black dashboard trim is complemented by the anthracite headliner or the silver thread stitching on the three-spoke steering wheel. This is also found on the sports seats with integrated head restraints. In the Karoq and Octavia models, the seats are upholstered in a special Thermoflux fabric and in the larger Kodiaq, Superb and Enyaq models in a combination of genuine leather and Alcantara.
Regardless of the model series selected, cars with the Sportline line are built on a chassis lowered by 15 mm with a specific tuning and geometry. The stiffer tuning of the shock absorbers and springs, combined with progressive power steering, supports the car's agility in corners without compromising comfort comparable to the classic versions of the model. In fact, through careful tuning and testing, the engineers have hit the perfect compromise of shock absorber settings, even for driving on lesser surfaces. In addition, the DCC adaptive chassis is available as an option for all models, with the ability to select the stiffness of the dampers independently of the chosen driving mode. In Individual driving mode, the driver then can adjust the sharp response of the engine and transmission combined with the compliant tuning of the dampers; a set up whose principle corresponds to that of the competition specials.
In addition, all-wheel drive with an inter-axle multi-plate clutch or a quick-shifting DSG dual-clutch gearbox with manual mode and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifts are available as options on most models. Both of these features add to the car's sportiness; especially on unpaved surfaces or snow. Another advantage of the Sportline trim line is the wide range of engines. For example, you can equip the popular Octavia model in liftback or estate body styles with one of the petrol or diesel engines, and there is also a G-TEC compressed natural gas variant or the plug-hybrid iV version capable of travelling up to 60 km without an internal combustion engine.
The sharper RS version
Even closer to the competition specials are the top-of-the-range RS versions. The legendary RS letters first appeared on a road car with the first modern generation Octavia at the turn of the millennium. Today, the fourth-generation Octavia RS, the seven-seat Kodiaq RS SUV and the all-electric Enyaq RS iV all boast the RS version, which offers the most powerful combustion engines available. In the case of the Kodiaq, a two-litre TSI petrol tuned to 245 hp. This engine can also be found in the Octavia, where co-friendly mild-hybrid powertrain with the same output and a TDI unit with a massive 400 Nm of torque complete the powertrain range. The most powerful road-going RS yet, the Enyaq RS iV, is powered by a pair of electric motors, with a combined output of nearly 300 hp and acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in just 6.5 seconds. There is therefore no shortage of straight-line dynamics in the top RS versions.
But these sporty cars don't lose out in the corners either. Like the Sportline version, the sharpened RS versions are equipped with an improved chassis. But the engineers have gone one step further and added stiffer arm mounts and stiffer stabilisers to the improved dampers and springs to limit body roll in corners and improve steering feedback. What does this mean on the ground? Much better control of the car at a dynamic pace regardless of the surface under the wheels, quicker response to steering wheel commands, and most importantly, significantly more confidence at the limit of grip even when driving at high speeds.
Something for everyone
The difference to the versions with Sportline equipment is noticeable as soon as the first corners are taken. This is despite the fact that the Sportline-equipped cars are already more capable than the standard versions in many areas. In short, you can tell that handling was a high priority when developing the RS cars. However, everyday usability was still maintained without compromising on driving comfort. The credit for this goes mainly to the adaptive dampers, which in the fourth-generation Octavia, for example, can be adjusted in several steps according to the current surface using a simple menu on the infotainment touchscreen. In addition, the RS differs from the classic Sportline versions with a more powerful braking system and an even sportier design. The aerodynamically shaped bumpers are not just for show, they also help ideal airflow to the flared entry sills and aerodynamically optimised cast wheels.
The interior features anatomically shaped seats with integrated headrests, a three-spoke sports steering wheel, dark headliner and details combining Alcantara and carbon fibre accents, similar to the Sportline trim. Also of note is the new Mamba Green colour available only on RS versions. This shade is even identical to that on the latest Fabia RS Rally2 factory competition special.
Which model impressed you more; the more comfortable Sportline with its sporty extras and wide range of engines, or the sharper RS derivatives, which are designed for enthusiastic drivers with their speed and handling characteristics? The choice is yours.