The new Octavia RS comes with a number of new features. And because it's definitely not just about the modified front end and the cosmetic changes to the interior, we asked rally driver Oliver Solberg to test its more powerful engine and revised chassis setup. What were his impressions of driving the popular RS-named model?

The Octavia RS has made huge progress in its four generations and more than 20 years of development. From the 180bhp of the 1.8-litre turbo engine that powered the first generation, its latest version gets 265bhp from a fabulous supercharged two-litre TSI. This, incidentally, is based on the EA888 engine family, which also underpins the power unit in the Skoda Fabia RS Rally2 competition car that Oliver Solberg drives in the World Rally Championship.

A more powerful engine with lightning-fast responses

If you ask the drivers of this rally car what they appreciate most about it, it's the engine's power at low and mid-range revs. And that's exactly what the Fabia has in common with the Octavia RS. The 2.0 TSI engine is fabulous in its supple acceleration and lightning-fast throttle response. Its charm lies in its ability to deliver turbo boost pressure to the cylinders almost without any delay and thus accelerate very quickly. It was the agility of the engine on the country roads that Oliver praised very much.

"The immediately available power is great. You don't have to think about the gear; all you have to do is touch the accelerator at any speed and the Octavia will shoot forward. This allows you to resolve a potentially dangerous situation in your operation in a flash. I also like the sound of the all-new exhaust, which has been carefully tuned, and sounds fabulous, especially in Sport mode. It's a proper sports sound that now dispenses with the help of speakers inside. In addition, Sport mode offers a sharper engine map, which makes throttle response even faster." Oliver describes with a big smile on his lips.

Precise and fun

On winding roads, another new feature stands out, and that is the chassis that is 15 millimetres lower. The car's lower centre of gravity is crucial for better handling and responsiveness to steering movements. The new Octavia RS has thus taken a step towards a sportier driving experience, because when driving more dynamically, you need a car that goes exactly where you want it to go without unnecessary tilts. However, it is important that the new model has retained what has adorned the Octavia RS since its first generation, which is, among other things, the comfort of the crew on long journeys. The car is firm and precise, but the shock absorber settings are not too hard. This means two important things. First of all, it does not tire the crew with bouncing during which short and fast movements are very unpleasant and exhausting. The second thing is perhaps even more important. With a terrific combination of precision and compliance of shock absorbers, the Octavia RS can follow the surface and maintain grip even on poor road surfaces, which is a great calling card for the development team.

The chassis of the new "RS" is simply an excellent compromise, as always. It's a little more spiced up with motorsport DNA, but certainly not in a way that bothers you. It fits perfectly with the slightly faster and more powerful car that the new Octavia RS undoubtedly is.

The front axle can handle the power

But isn't 265hp too much for front-wheel drive? After a few hot laps on the track, Oliver says no: "The Octavia RS has an electronically controlled clamp differential at the front, which helps a lot in transferring power to the wheels. Even when exiting sharper corners with lower gears engaged, the inside wheel won't spin and you won't lose traction. The front end also rolls very naturally into the corner under throttle, tightening corners in the same way as you know it from mechanically controlled clamp differentials. The system is very well set up. The car is stable and easily predictable."

"I also like the balance. Thanks to the large boot, the Octavia has a relatively massive overhang behind the rear axle. Compared to a hatchback, you have more weight in the back, and that's always the key to fun to drive. This is especially noticeable when entering corners, when the Octavia turns nicely around the corner and can be very neutral. With the stability control system in ESC Sport mode, the car can also over steer slightly, and I like that. Of course, I'm talking about very dynamic driving on the circuit."

Of course, the Octavia RS is not a pure track car, but after a few sharp laps it definitely made a good impression on Oliver. However, we must not forget the exterior changes of the car mentioned at the beginning.

A new, sharper front end

The new, sharper front of the Octavia RS has a sharper front end with a sportier look and new light graphics, the line of which is now more extended downwards. These LED Matrix headlights are standard. The front edge of the bonnet also slopes more towards the radiator grille, making the entire front appear lower and more dynamic. Inside, you'll find tried-and-tested sports seats with excellent lateral support and integrated headrests, a pleasing décor in a combination of black and red elements and, as is tradition with RS models, a wide range of equipment.

After a full day behind the wheel, Oliver summed up his impressions as follows: "It was a great drive; the Octavia RS is a great combination of speed, fun and comfort. Couldn't I have it as a company car?" Coming from the winner of several world rallies in the WRC2 category, this is a good calling card.