UPDATE (22nd June, 2017): We've driven the updated sedan! Check out the 2017 Skoda Octavia Facelift Review.
First introduced in 2004, the Skoda Octavia vRS fast became the ultimate word for affordable performance sedans in the country. It helped fill a void that existed between the regular and luxury marquees. It’s customisable and tuner friendly nature also helped it find favour among the tuner and track enthusiast brigade in India. Even today, despite the car not being sale for almost half a decade, it is still revered as the ideal car by purists. And all they do is keep asking for more.
The latest one is the Octavia RS 245 which also happens to be the fastest production Octavia yet. Well, every RS is faster than the last one but this one is slightly more special. You see, the Octavia RS 245 is the even-faster version of the current Octavia RS. Where the standard Octavia RS churns out 230PS of power from the 2.0 TSI petrol engine, the 245 produces, as the name suggests, 245PS. This helps the car shave off another 0.1 seconds from the 0-100 time, with an identical electronically limited top speed.
So, it's natural that petrolheads like us will definitely want this car to come to India. And this time around, there is a damn good reason why. But to understand that we will need to bring out our history books.
The term RS was first used by Skoda for racing cars in 1974. Since then, the abbreviation has also found a place in sporty versions of the Skoda model range since 2000.
Skoda experimented by getting the Ocatavia vRS to India in limited numbers, possibly to gauge the response from potential customers. It was powered by a 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. The power output of the India-spec was 150PS, but the international versions produced 180PS. Why the discrimination? We didn’t have ideal fuel for the car (98 octane). Though the sedan was appreciated for its sporty characteristics the buyers were scarce in number.
Then the next gen Octavia which carried the Laura badge tried again with the Laura vRS in 2011. The 1.8-litre turbo petrol now made 160PS of peak power and was mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox. It certainly looked the part as it came with a rear spoiler, 16-inch alloy wheels, chrome dual exhaust, xenon projector headlights with dynamic levelling, cornering lamps, and LED position lamp. Then there was the bright shade of yellow that helped it stand out from the standard car, the petrolheads went crazy. It became a favourite of the tuner brigade, again. But, with a price tag of Rs 15.19 lakh and no significant power bump over the previous car, the numbers were less than expected. But then again, the purists were unfazed.
But, that was it. The next generation 2013 Octavia RS, which again was the fastest Octavia, never came around to receive our hospitality. It came with a 2.0-litre turbo petrol motor which produced a hefty 220PS of max power. The 0-100 time on this model dropped to just 6.8 seconds, 0.4 seconds faster than the previous generation. The top speed went up by 6kmph and was now 248kmph. Not just that, the goodies inside the cabin and the character outside the RS was significantly improved as well. But, we missed all of that. We got the Octavia but the vRS eluded us.
Fast forward to today and Skoda has gotten us hopeful again, there is a new Octavia RS in town, which produces a respect-worthy 230PS of power and 350Nm of max torque from a 2.0-litre turbo petrol motor. And for the first time, gets a 6-speed DSG as an option. The 0-100 dash now takes 6.7 seconds. If you are still not satisfied with the figures, Skoda has an option B - the 2017 Octavia RS 245. With 15 more horses at the crank the 245 is faster to 100kmph by 0.1seconds compared to the standard RS..
The diesel option has a 2.0-litre TDI with 184PS of max power and 380Nm of peak torque. The power of this engine is the same as the last-gen vRS but the 0-100kmph dash has been reduced by 0.2 seconds and is now 7.9 seconds. The top speed is the same as the older one at 232kmph. The diesel is also available in an AWD variant with the 6-speed DSG.
Now, we come back to our previous statement - the "damn good reason". Since the last vRS, the Indian market has changed and matured. The market has opened up to performance-oriented cars (insert massive smile here). We have seen the entry of hot hatches like the Volkswagen GTI and the Polo GT TSI, Abarth Punto and the latest, Maruti Baleno. In the luxury bracket, Mercedes has expanded its AMG range and BMW has brought in its M sedans and SUVs as well. In other words we are getting used to the idea of a car than do the regular office run and make you smile on the racetrack. Now, all that we need is a sensible and practical, everyday usable performance executive sedan, a spot tailor-made for the Octavia RS.
It is a near certainty that this generation of the RS will be coming to India by mid-2017. If so, it will carry a price tag of around 25-28 lakhs. Even for this price, the RS will be a phenomenal value of money sedan as it will offer similar and in some cases better performance than the cars from a segment beyond like the C-Class, 3-Series, A4, XE and the S60 T6. And still offer great levels of equipment.
Along with the power to shame luxury cars, the car will most definitely be an instant hit with the wide tuner, modification and track circle in the country as well, who by the way swear by their Skodas. As a result, a lot of Laura TSIs have wound up with remapped ECUs and aftermarket performance parts to enhance the cars' on road and on track performance. The launch of the RS will give the RS purists a reason to smile and a sigh of relief as buying a TSI and remapping its guts will no longer be necessary. And it will also be a great option for someone looking for an everyday car which can also handle a bit of spirited driving without spending too much time under the bonnet. In our opinion, despite challenges, the diesel market is still huge in the country. The 2.0-litre TDI RS should be an ideal sedan for daily use and having some fun when you are in the mood for it.
We have presented our case and the need of the Skoda Octavia RS in the country, but what about the 245? It is a more desirable car but if launched will carry a hefty price tag of around Rs 35 lakhs, which seems to be a bit too much for an executive-level Skoda. And though the market has grown, we are not sure it is at a stage where the RS 245 could be a viable choice. But, a limited numbers run like the earlier ones will surely be appreciated by the true blue driving enthusiasts of the country. After all, it gives you the power to shame smug-looking luxury cars with a gentle push of the pedal.
Do we want it, yes. Will we get it... fingers crossed.
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