Skoda is going from strength to strength in New Zealand, after they picked up the contract to supply the New Zealand Police with their vehicles. They are using the Skoda Superb Wagon, so if you’re looking for something to outrun them, the Octavia Wagon RS might be the one for you. Only kidding, well sort off. 

The Skoda Octavia Wagon RS is nothing to shrug your shoulders at, the latest offering has a 180kW and 370Nm engine, which makes the RS a sporty little number. The team at DriveLife were very excited to be the first in New Zealand to review this vehicle. John spent a week behind the wheel to see what this sub-$60K sports wagon was all about.

The Range

There are only two variants of the Octavia Wagon available in New Zealand. The luxury-focused Style and the sporty RS. The base model Style retails at $47,990 plus on road costs and the top spec RS retails at $57,990 plus on road costs. As we go through the review, remember how much the RS costs, as it may surprise you at how well it’s kitted out. 

The Style runs a 1.4L petrol- turbo inline-4 engine, which creates 110kW of power and 250Nm of torque. The RS moves to a 2.0L petrol-turbo inline-4 engine, which creates 180kW of power and 370Nm of torque. Both cars are two wheel drive, at the front wheels. The Style has an 8-speed auto transmission, while the RS has a 7-speed DSG gearbox. This gives the Style a 0-100km/h time of 9.1 seconds and a top speed of 216km/h. The RS does the 0-100km/h a lot quicker at 6.7 and has a top speed of 250km/h.

The spec list is an impressive one, the RS comes with everything as standard. This includes: 

  • Euro NCAP Safety Rating 5 Star
  • Front Driver & Passenger airbags, driver knee airbag, front & rear side and curtain airbags
  • Front centre interaction airbag – between driver and passenger
  • Crew protect assist – proactive crash protection front and rear
  • Driver alert system – fatigue detection system
  • Front Assist – vehicle, pedestrians, and cyclists collision
  • Adaptive cruise control with follow to stop + speed Limiter
  • Lane Assist with adaptive lane guidance + emergency assist
  • Side assist with exit warning 
  • Reversing camera with adaptive guidance lines 
  • Front & rear parking sensors 
  • Maneuver assist – low-speed automatic braking
  • Driving mode selection with sport (-15mm) suspension
  • Progressive Steering and XDS+ Front Differential Lock
  • Tyre pressure loss indicator – low pressure/flat tire alert
  • LED Headlights with LED daytime driving lights and fog lights
  • Matrix BI-LED headlights with LED daytime lights and fog lights
  • Full LED Tail Lights with animated turn signal
  • Auto high beam assist
  • KESSY with 5 door sensors with motion sensor
  • Virtual Pedal – automatic gesture & electronic opening of the tailgate
  • Electrically adjustable, heated, and folding exterior mirrors w/ memory
  • Sunset tint for rear windows from B pillar
  • Chrome Design Package (chrome front grill & window trims + roof rails)
  • RS Design Package (gloss black front grille, window trims, roof rails )
  • Keyless engine start/stop
  • Electronic child safety locks
  • Shift-by-wire selector with park button
  • Anti-theft alarm system with interior monitoring
  • Dual-zone automatic air conditioning
  • Umbrella located in driver’s door trim
  • Center front and rear armrest
  • Heated multifunction leather steering wheel & shift paddles
  • Heated sports multifunction leather steering wheel & shift paddles
  • Interior ambient front and surround lighting
  • Variable boot floor with flexible alloy rail
  • Electric height/lumbar adjustment for driver & passenger with memory
  • Standard comfort seats with half fabric/leather upholstery
  • RS Sports comfort seats with fabric/alcantara upholstery 
  • Heated front seats
  • Decorative insert Silver – Dashboard fabric pad black
  • Decorative inserts Carbon – Dashboard alcantara pad black, red stitching
  • Navigation Columbus 10″ infotainment touchscreen display & voice command with 8
  • speaker sound output & Smartlink incl. Apple Carplay & Android Auto – wireless connect
  • Digital Dash – 10.25″ digital instrument cluster
  • Wireless Smartphone charging
  • 2x USB in front, 2x USB in rear,1x USB in rear-view mirror
  • 18” Alloy wheels – Comet, black with bright machining 

The Style comes with everything the RS does with the exception of the RS styling options, you 17” Alloys wheels – Rotare Aero silver wheels and the following options: front centre interaction airbag ($500), Matric BI-LED headlight ($2750), heated sports steering wheel ($450) and electric lumbar adjustment for driver and passenger with memory ($1500).

Both cars come with a Skoda 5-year 150,000km warranty, with services required every year or 15,000km. You can add a Skoda scheduled service plan for 3 years up to 45,000km or a 5 year up to 75,000km. For the Style, the 3-year plan is $1200, and for the 5-year plan its $2250. The RS is a bit higher at $1450 for the 3-year plan and $2750 for the 5-year plan. 

For more information about the Skoda Octavia, check out Skoda New Zealand’s website at the following LINK

First Impressions

Whoever is styling the latest range of products from Skoda is giving 110%. The 2021 Octavia wagon RS is a great looking car, with a perfect balance of style and sportiness. With just a quick glance I would almost say the styling is inline with Audi. 

Our review car was Quartz Grey Metallic or dark grey. Right off the bat, you know this car is not a billy basic model. With the aggressive Matrix LED headlight, sporty 18-inch wheels and the blacked out body trim, it’s one of these cars that looks like it’s moving fast when it is still, which is a great place to start a review. However, I had hoped it was one of the more exciting colours, like Corrida Red or even Mamba Green

After a quick overview from the local Skoda dealership, I jumped and immediately knew I was going to like this car. 

The Inside

Where to start, well let’s start with WOW. Since when do Skoda’s look this good inside the cabin? Clean and crisp, nice materials, satin finish carbon fibre, alcantara, soft finish plastics. No clutter at all, just a nicely sized central touch screen display, a couple of buttons under it and that’s it. It’s a great space and I really like the door handles and how they were incorporated into the trim along the doors, making them blend in while being functional.

Even the gear stick was replaced with a chrome gear selector, which I liked as it was minimal. My only gripe with this was the shiny black plastic surround it had, which makes it a fingerprint magnet. So hard to keep clean, I would have much preferred to see some more of the satin carbon fibre in this area too.

In front of the gear selector is a tray, where you can put bits and pieces. This is a problem in so many new cars now, nowhere to put any personal things down. This tray also doubles as the wireless charging plate for any supported mobile phones. Beside this were two USB ports, both USB-C I might add, which is great to see. Our devices need more and more power and with USB-C we can rapidly charge them on the road.

Before we go much further, we have to talk about the seats. They look like they are straight out of an RS Audi or high performance sports car, with the VRS logo stitched into them below the head rest. They are so well sculpted I just fell into them, super comfy and supportive too. The materials really gelled with the rest of the carbin, leather, alcantara with cross stitch and a carbon fibre like pattern running up the center. Ten  out of ten for the seats, Skoda, great job. Oh, did i mention they are also massaging seats as well!

In the back you have a similar look and feel to the front seats, not as sculpted as the front, but the same style. The Octavia was a bit tight for space in the back, when the driver’s seat was set for a tall person like myself. It would be ok, for kids, or a set of average height adults, but not ideal when sitting behind someone that’s 2 metres tall. My daughter loved it, nice visibility for her all around, which is a big deal for young kids. Makes the difference between an easy and difficult trip. She also loved the massive sunroof too. 

There’s a full-length panoramic roof, which is a great standard feature. It lets so much light into the cabin, and can be covered up if needs be. Like many similar roofs, the front half opens, as a tilt up or half open slide back. The really cool thing about this feature are the controls. No buttons or dials, just a touch sensitive surface that you slide your finger across. There was a rather satisfying feeling when you did it, there was no sound, but when your finger slid across one of the two surfaces, you either opened the sunroof or closed the sunshade. Such a simple idea, but so satisfying.

The central touch-screen display was a good size, clear, and easy to navigate. It has all the standard and expected features, radio, media, car setting, sat-nav, phone connections, seat controls, and climate control. This also has wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto. The cabin has been set up to have many non-essential controls moved into the digital interface of the touchscreen. The base of the screen has a finger-width section cut into it. When you slide your finger up and down this surface it allows you to control the volume level of the audio. 

Drive modes are also set via this screen, with one click of the Mode button just below the screen. The drive modes are displayed on the screen above for selection. You have 5 modes; Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport and Individual. More on these modes later. Next to the drive modes you also have Parking Assist, which can automatically control the car into a parking spot in multiple different scenarios.

The boot space was really good, almost 600 litres, which is pretty good for a mid-sized wagon. Even more with the seats down, which I didn’t get to test as I had the baby seat in the back for most of the review. Much like other Skoda’s, this one came with a few features in the boot. Side pockets for loose items, and a package-retaining bar to help keep larger objects in place in the boot when on the go. These sorts of things are usually only available on very high end performance vehicles. So it was great to see in this price bracket

Every person I had in the RS over the course of my review, couldn’t believe the high-end and luxury finish that was in it. Several people even comment that more expensive cars don’t even come with some features as standard. That to me says a lot, Skoda, keep doing what you’re doing, because you’re doing it right. 

The Drive

Behind the wheel of the new Octavia I didn’t really know what to expect. But it didn’t take long to know that this car was not only everyday practical, but it had a sporty fun side too. You notice this when you start the car, and you have a nice low grumble note from the engine. This gives you that sporty feel, which is enhanced in the Sport mode. To be honest I am not 100% sure if the noise was coming from the engine/exhaust or from the speakers, and I didnt care. This car is not trying to be the flagship super performance wagon that some other brands have. It’s goal is as mentioned: everyday practical and fun. 

Driving the Octavia feels rather effortless, it’s so smooth on the road. Steering has a good feel and the ride is just right. Firm enough to feel the road, while soft enough to absorb all the bumps and noise. Brakes were good, easy to control and not over the top like some performance vehicles. I felt very at home behind the wheel, it was a doddle to potter around town, park here and there and navigate the motorways. Then if you wanted a bit of fun on your favourite stretch of road, you can with confidence place the car where you wanted on the road with smug satisfaction. 

On the central display there are 5 driving modes. Normal is the standard mode that the car starts in. This mode has a low grumble to the engine/exhaust noise and has adequate level of power to tackle the day to day. Comfort is much like the normal mode, but the engine noise is reduced so that it’s barely noticeable. This is great for long trips, where a constant gurgle or drone from the engine could get exhausting. Eco is another step further then Comfort, where it slows everything down. The engine has a delayed response to it, which helps the driver feed the power in when required, in an effort to make it the most efficient drive. Sport is the other end of the scale, this is where the engine/exhaust noise increases and both the throttle and transmission sharpen up. It’s fun to drive in this mode as you can get nice engine blips when you change down gears. Last but not least is Individual, which is a custom mode, allowing you to set up the car how you like it.

The array of driver assists are impressive, and it would take far too much time to cover each one. These include: Matrix LED headlights, predictive cruise, front assist, lane assist, traffic jam assist, side assist, emergency assist. All of these features work very well and subtly in the background. It’s great to know they are all there, as it’s like there is a second pair of eyes on the road at all times. 

I was surprised at the fuel consumption. Skoda advertises 6.6 litres per 100km for the Octavia Wagon RS. Over the course of my time in the car, I was only ever able to get it as low as 9.9, a bit of a jump from 6.6. It’s still pretty good, but not as good as they are saying it can be. I do find that many sporty cars tend to be hard to get low fuel consumption with, as the driver’s inner child can be sometimes encouraged to enjoy the ride. 

The one thing that I disliked –  ok, that I hated – was the auto stop/start. I am used to these systems, and use it everyday on my Land Rover Discovery 4. But this system was a bit weird, it was like it was trying to be too smart. For example, if you came up to a T-Junction, and you’re waiting for a gap to pull out, in my Discovery I could apply the brake enough to keep the engine going, while stationary. This allowed me to pop out into traffic when a gap was available, avoiding the engine shutting off and risking a delayed response. In the Skoda, this was very hard to do. I came up to the T-Junction, and even before I had stopped moving the engine would cut out. And I would have to press the accelerator to start it again, which would push me into traffic, so I left it off. This then created a bit of a delay if a gap presented itself. I am sure over time you would get used to how this system worked, but this is the first car in sometime where I tuned the auto stop/start off most of the time as I found it intrusive. 

The one thing that really impressed me, was how quiet the car is on the road. Put it in comfort mode and the engine gurgle goes away and the car is whisper quiet. Almost EV quiet, which is amazing. It really makes for a peaceful driving experience if you do not want to hear the sport sounds from the engine/exhaust or speakers. 

Some people scoffed at this car, saying “it’s just a Skoda”. But they didn’t really know what they were talking about. This car is not a Skoda, it’s the new Skoda. A brand that gives you a lot of car and does not ask you to pay the earth for it.

The Competition

I am not sure there is any real competition for the new Octavia RS in New Zealand. The only thing close would be the new SEAT Cupra Leon Sports Tourer, which we are keen to review, but that is still $8000 more.

The Skoda’s price point puts it way above the standard range of wagons still available on the market, most of which are base spec vehicles. It also puts itself way below the base model high-end euro wagons available, which are not even the performance variants. It seems to be in the perfect goldilocks zone, just right.

Brand / ModelEnginePower kW/NmNumber of SeatsFuel L/100kmBoot Capacity LitresPrice Highest to Lowest
Audi A4 40 TFSi Avant2.0-litre Turbo Petrol I4140/32056.0480$79,500
SEAT Cupra Leon Sports Tourer,2.0-litre Turbo Petrol I4228/40056.7620$65,900
Skoda Octavia Wagon RS2.0-litre Turbo Petrol I4180/37056.6600$57,990
Skoda Octavia Wagon Style1.4-litre Turbo Petrol I4110/25059.1600$47,990

Pros

  • Slick, modern styling
  • Sporty engine
  • Those wheels
  • Engine noise
  • Smooth and comfy ride
  • Great build quality
  • Sporty handling
  • Quality luxury interior
  • Tech level and safety features
  • Good boot
  • USB C connections all around

Cons

  • Fuel consumption
  • Auto Stop/Start sensitivity
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Economy
8
Interior
9
Performance
9
Safety
9
Styling
9
Value
10
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It started at a young age with bedroom posters, the Countach of course. This slowly grew into a super car die-cast model collection, fifty five 1:18 models at the last count. At which point it had almost taken full control, the incurable Mad Car Disease ran deep though my veins all the way to the bone. And things for my loved ones just got worse as the cars where now being bought at 1:1 scale, after a BMW, HSV, and couple of Audi's, the disease reached my brain, pushing me over the edge and down the rabbits hole into the world of the bedroom poster.

1 COMMENT

  1. That’s a lotta car for ya money. Damn, what happened to Skoda? Certainly lifted their game and thanks for the review John. Just wondering if the Auto Stop/Start that you loathed so much, could have had a affected the overall fuel economy during your review. Anyway it’s a great looking wagon.

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