It’s a car that perfectly sums up the ethos behind our magazine’s name; a sportscar for all seasons!
I love winters, but for a rather different reason. The air is denser in winters than other seasons which results in a more charged up combustion, which is why automobiles generally perform better in winters. They perform even better with forced induction, especially turbocharging. Get the drift?
I still remember my first tryst with a turbocharged car which was a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X. The heady rush when the turbo spools up and the all-wheel-drive thrusts you ahead is something that’s etched into my memory permanently! And baring the AWD, the Skoda Octavia RS 245 is a car that uses the same format as the legendary Evo X. There’s a stonker of an inline-four-cylinder, 2.0-litre turbocharged engine under the hood which makes scaring friends or family ridiculously easy. I plead guilty! And like the Evo X, the Octavia RS 245 was also sold as a limited edition model. Out of the 200 units that came to our shores, baring a handful all are sold out.
Both are special. Heck, the Octavia RS 245 looks special in this shade of blue. Those familiar with its predecessor, the RS 230, will notice the similarity in bodywork. Not much has changed except for a few blacked-out accents and snazzier looking 18-inch wheels. Not to forget, the spoiler and dual exhausts adorning the rear. The RS 245 feels special inside as well. The all-black cabin is swathed in leather with faux carbon fibre accents, the leather-wrapped and flat-bottomed steering wheel is a joy to hold and the bolstered Alcantara seats hold you in place snugly. Like the RS 230 where the numbers denoted the horsepower, the RS 245 here denotes the 245PS output. Peak torque produced is also up by 20Nm, to 370Nm. Another update is the switch to a new seven-speed DSG gearbox from the earlier six-speed unit.
Skoda claims the Octavia RS 245 sprints from 0-100kmph in 6.6 seconds and I totally believe them. Calling the car quick is a gross understatement, yes, but even more impressive is the throttle response. Turbo lag is minimal and in Sport mode the gearbox keeps the turbo spooled so there is an immediacy to response every time you step on the gas. The seven-speed box pretty much ensures you run out of road before you run out of performance! Oh, and the transmission is rated to withstand more torque, should you feel like adding extra performance bits. That said, when driven in normal mode the RS 245 feels surprisingly docile. It is easy to drive in the city and feels almost similar to a stock turbo-petrol Octavia, just that the pedals and steering are more reactive to inputs. The only thing you might notice is the subdued burble from the exhaust.
That’s not all on the performance front though. An inconspicuous button marked VRS sits next to the gear lever. Press it twice and exhaust note changes to a mild growl. It adds to the sense of occasion that the Octavia RS 245 is, as every go-fast bit in the car seems to suddenly work a lot faster to send even more power to the wheels. So throttle response sharpens and the gearbox lets you hold to each gear for longer, allowing the motor to rev right up to the redline before shifting. The steering offers a more weighted feel, allowing you to enjoy its precision and feedback even better. Upshifts are quick, but downshifts could have been a wee bit quicker. Thankfully you can downshift manually using the paddles. The mannerisms only get better around corners. The RS 245 uses a new, electronically controlled VAQ limited-slip differential. With the use of an electronically-controlled clutch pack on the front axle, the system is capable of sending up to 100 percent power to the one wheel with the most grip thus almost completely eliminating understeer – a bane in front-wheel driven sports cars.
I got nowhere close to overcoming the vast reserves of grip the tyres offered, but the system impressed me with the way it lets you tackle corners. Turn in with the throttle buried and you feel the inside front wheel digging into tarmac, pulling the car deeper into the corner. There is no escaping the slight body roll but it is not overwhelming enough for you to lift off the gas pedal. The RS 245’s rear track is 30mm wider than the 230 to make it more stable. Around corners is where I felt the gearbox didn’t allow me to downshift early enough – I had to wait for the revs to drop before the left paddle actuated a downshift. I really like the RS 245's brakes too. The updated, dinner plate-sized discs offer strong bite and you can rely on the brakes to get the near 1.5-tonne car to shed speeds rapidly.
Having spent a week with the Octavia RS 245, I can attest to its practicality as well. It rides lower than the standard Octavia but it did not scrape the underbody on speed breakers even with five passengers onboard. The ride is firm but not stiff and Skoda has balanced the ride and handling package beautifully. This despite the car’s low profile and 18-inch wheels. Besides the acres of cabin space and a cavernous boot you also get all the features expected in a luxury sedan. You get two large screens, dual-zone climate control, a touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay connectivity, electrically adjustable front seats and more to keep you and your passengers happy.
When it comes to duality of purpose, the Octavia RS 245 can play the Jekyll and Hyde roles close to perfection. Close because it could benefit from the optional Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) or adaptive suspension Skoda offers as an option on the Octavia RS 245 abroad. But that would bump up the price, which given the CBU import duties is already high and rather close to the rear-wheel driven BMW 330i territory. However, being a limited edition model the Octavia RS 245 is more exclusive and undoubtedly will grab more eyeballs. All things considered, the RS 245 can easily be the only car you need in your garage and certainly a sportscar for all occasions.
Skoda Octavia RS 245
Engine: 1984cc, Inline 4-cylinder, turbo-petrol
Power: 248PS @ 5,000rpm
Torque: 370Nm @ 1,600rpm-4,300rpm
0-100kmph: 6.6 seconds (claimed)
Price: Rs 35.99 lakh ex-showroom, New Delhi