The Octavia RS is a popular constant in the Škoda Auto portfolio. Customers love it not only for its great equipment, but also for its speed and racing properties. In four generations, the Octavia RS has come a long way and we'll now show you how it has changed in more than 20 years.
Octavia is the first car in modern history to carry the famous RS badge, which until then had been reserved exclusively for racing or competition specials. Thus, at the beginning of the millennium, a car appeared in Škoda Auto's portfolio that gave ordinary drivers a taste of sporting experiences in the spirit of the brand's rich motorsport history. And the interest was immediately huge.
The RS version entered the Octavia line-up with the first major facelift in 2000. At that time, the car received a new front section with a different headlight shape and a completely new dashboard. The RS version received a turbocharged 1.8-litre engine with 180 hp with a top speed of 235 km/h, it became the fastest Octavia on offer. To tame that kind of power and speed, bigger brakes and body reinforcements were needed, especially at the rear of the car. Stiffer dampers were also used, but they don't affect the ride comfort too much. This is exactly one of the charms of the RS models, which can offer a great combination of speed without compromising their everyday use. The front anti-roll bar has also been modified. The interior is dominated by sports seats and a three-spoke steering wheel.
From a driving perspective, the first generation Octavia is still a very fast car. However, you can clearly see more than 20 years of development in the chassis and engine. The engine power comes on more slowly with a significantly greater turbo effect than the modern TSI engines used in the third and fourth generation. The chassis is soft, and not as precise as current cars, but the first RS is still great fun to drive.
Nowadays, cars in original condition are only increasing in value. The combi that came out in 2002 or the limited edition Skoda Motorsport 100 year anniversary are even rarer and they both have the potential to become interesting investment cars, which just illustrates the fact that the first generation really was a hit and miss.
The second generation was introduced in 2006 and is in every way a more mature car, with a number of new features. First of all, the performance and power of the engine have grown even more significantly. The turbocharged two-litre engine under the bonnet had an output of 200 horsepower and gave the car a top speed of 240 km/h, despite an increase in overall weight of almost 150 kilograms. The new six-speed gearbox also played its part. For the first time, customers also had the option of choosing between a manual and a DSG automatic transmission with two clutches. For fans of diesel engines, the RS TDI version with 170 hp and a top speed of 224 km/h was added to the range. The car was generally more robust than the first generation, was better soundproofed and especially at higher speeds provided the crew with a more comfortable ride. Inside, drivers found support in the new sports seats, with prominent side bolstering.
The second-generation ride is significantly more stable and quicker. The independent multi-link rear suspension gives you peace of mind over bumps and also confidence, especially at higher speeds. Compared to its nimble and action-packed predecessor, the successor is decidedly quieter and suits the faster sections rather than the twisty county roads. In character, the second generation resembles a GT car as it gobbles up miles like a true Gran Tourismo. And a little note on balance - this is easily the most over steering Octavia RS model of all; with the stabilisation system switched off, it folds really well into corners.
The Octavia RS went through the biggest change between the second and third generation. Although both cars are about the same weight-wise, the third generation feels lighter and sportier. Chassis geometry changes are more distinct than they ever were on the RS, and the fastest Octavia has suddenly become a car that feels great even on a twisty county road. The engine's power gradually climbed from 220 to 230 and, after the facelift, to 245 horsepower. The overall more driveable character is matched by the option of the optional VAQ electronically controlled front differential, which was available on the RS230 and RS245 versions. By the end of production, it even became standard equipment. Any passionate driver will recognise this in the driving characteristics. The car has more grip coming out of corners and turns naturally under throttle without slipping the inside wheel. Although the differential clamp is electronically controlled, its tuning is smooth and gives a very mechanical impression. It shows that a lot of attention was paid to this area during development. The car is surefooted, precise on twisty back roads, and doesn't bounce even on 19-inch wheels on poor surfaces. The comfort to sportiness ratio is again perfectly balanced. Even in the third generation, customers could choose between the TSI petrol and TDI diesel versions.
The sports seats with integrated head restraints and high side skirts are again brilliant. You could choose cloth or full leather versions, and the steering wheel had a flattened lower section for the first time in a Škoda.
The powertrain foundation of the 245-horsepower engine and electronically controlled VAQ clamp differential has remained with the latest addition. But between generations, the Octavia RS trumps its design leap. The new car looks really beautiful. In the lift back version, it has an extremely elegant flowing side silhouette. The front end has sharp, sporty features complemented by black gloss elements and the traditionally interesting design of the cast wheels. The black accessories complement the new Mamba green colour perfectly. The same goes for the interior, which features Alcantara and carbon black trim. The interior is modern and the DNA of motorsport really shines through.
Behind the wheel, the latest Octavia RS is even more precise and controllable than the previous generation. Very responsive to steering wheel movements, it's stable and beautifully balanced with a great portion of weight at the rear to easily help curl the car on corner entry. The speed and sure-footedness of the fourth-generation Octavia is truly remarkable.
In 23 years, the Octavia RS has matured into a car that's a real joy to drive and a joy to turn every corner in. While the domain of the first two generations was more about straight-line speed, the third and fourth can easily breeze through really twisty roads. It has become a far sportier car with a motorsport heritage that you can feel in every metre you drive. In all this, though, it has managed to retain the character of a car that can wrap sharper rides in a pleasing package of everyday usability and comfort.