SKODA Australia is under no illusions that its latest car, a higher performance version of its Octavia RS known as the RS230, will only appeal to a narrow cross-section of the Australian buying public – and it’s not fussed about it.
The Octavia RS230 adds seven kilowatts, an electronic limited slip diff and revised exhaust to the RS package, and will be available in both sedan ($41,490 plus on-road costs) and wagon ($43,190 plus on-road costs) forms.
This is almost exactly the same price as the DSG-equipped RS, which makes up between 10 and 20 per cent of Octavia RS sales.
Skoda Australia director Michael Irmer told GoAuto that the RS230 would not come to Australia with the six-speed DSG as fitted to the stock Octavia range.
“The RS230 is not available in DSG for our hot-climate market,” he said. “So the only choice is manual. Having said that, there is a positive in that it becomes a real enthusiast car.
“We’ve trying to bring it in for some time, but only now could we secure some production. What we hear a lot from the enthusiasts is a desire for more manuals, and I think it’s good that we can offer it.”
Just 70 examples will make it to Australia, despite a request for 100 units.
“We were hoping for more, but we’ll see. It’s limited at this stage, but there’ s a chance to get more,” Mr Irmer said. “I would like to get 200, but we will have to wait and see.”
The split between the two available body styles has been biased 70 per cent towards the wagon.
“This is indicative of the rest of the RS range,” said public relations manager Paul Pottinger. “It’s how the range has worked out, and how we’ve ordered the RS230.”
The RS230 differs visually from its RS donor thanks to a piano black treatment of its grille, mirror caps, rear faux diffuser, rear spoiler and roof. A set of RS230-specific 19-inch rims – known as the Xtreme – complete the exterior changes to the RS, which already sports a full body kit and twin exhausts as standard.
Mechanically, the RS230 uses a digitally updated version of the EA888 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine that is seen in the Golf GTI range, among others.
The engine upgrade is in line with the distinction between VW’s Golf GTI and GTI Performance twins. An ECU remap nets the Octavia RS seven more kilowatts to take it to 169kW to take a tenth of a second off the car’s 0-100km/h time, to 6.7 seconds. Torque remains the same.
Skoda says the sedan variant consumes 6.3 litres per 100km of 98RON, while the wagon will use 6.4L/100km. It emits 142 grams of CO2 per kilometre in both body styles.
Australian-spec RSs already have an electronically operated mechanical limited slip diff, but this unit – as fitted to the Golf GTI Performance – is an electro-magnetic locker that can instantly send 100 per cent of its torque to the wheel with the most grip.
A revised rear exhaust section with new mufflers rounds out the mechanical package.
The RS230 takes the standard kit from the RS model, which includes automatic lights and wipers, a drive mode selector, a touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, reversing camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a digital screen in the instrument binnacle, lane keeping and adaptive cruise control.
It also scores the updated safety kit recently announced for the Octavia range, which includes automatic emergency braking.
The RS230 adds part-leather powered sports seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, black headlining, contrasting red stitching and a lap timer.
The content package of the RS230 absorbs a handful of the optional packs offered by Skoda on the RS, including the $1700 Comfort Pack, $500 Black Pack and $500 19-inch rim option.
A $1700 Tech Pack comprising keyless entry, lane departure assist, an auto parking assistant with front and rear sensors and a 10-speaker premium stereo is also offered.
While RS sales make up about 40 per cent of all Octavia movements, the range is some 13 per cent down year on year, with 1550 units sold to the end of October.
The Octavia RS230 has few natural competitors in the space; the Subaru Levorg GT and the Volkswagen Golf R wagon are similar in execution but are more expensive.
The standard Octavia is outselling the Hyundai Sonata (1475) and Kia Optima (1169), but is being pummelled by its VW stablemate, the Passat, which has moved 2690 units to the end of October.