Skoda Octavia Combi RS 2.0 TSI 180kW [first drive review] - Doing the fifteen-step combi
Kuantan, Malaysia - It is no secret that Skoda designs cars with practicality in-mind. You get cars which often lead in their respective classes when it comes to space.
We had a go in the Octavia Combi recently, and liked it for its versatility and comfort. But what happens when the Czech manufacturer sticks the very excellent EA888 under the hood of this compact estate car, and then goes to town with a lowered adjustable sports suspension?
Well, you get something quite extraordinary really!
Estate cars have a special place in our hearts here, and the Octavia Combi RS is probably the best value-for-money “go-faster” wagon you could put money down for at the moment.
So with our borders opened again, we get the chance to take this, along with the new Kodiaq RS, driven by a hungry David Khoo, for a good shakedown en route to Kuantan, while driving on some of Malaysia’s tricky B roads.
We set off early to avoid the jam at the border, and soon-after, made a beeline toward Kota Tinggi, along the Mersing highway. Once travelling on narrower tarmac, flanked by plantations, we switch the wagon out of ‘Comfort’ drive mode, and let that engine breathe.
With 240hp and 350Nm bubbling up-front, the 2-litre feels incredibly unrestrained. The rev counter may say that the redline is at 6000rpm; but stick your foot to the floor, and the needle happily passes this, until 7000rpm, where the 7-speed DSG bungs up to the next ratio.
There is that simulated V8 noise, which accompanies you throughout your time in ‘Sport’ mode, which I feel can be a bit of an overkill; especially once you clock some miles in the car.
So while having the Octavia RS in ‘Sport’ mode could work wonders when zipping along most of our own local asphalt, it can get unsettling over here, when punching the wagon through a tight zig; and while focusing on your next zag, you find yourself skipping over gaps in the asphalt… or even sometimes having your tyres dip even deeper into the queen’s forgotten tarmac.
This is where the Octavia RS can boast about its 15-stage adjustable Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC). Slide your finger on the screen to adjust the suspension’s stiffness (just like this Volkswagen Golf GTi), and you can “Goldilocks” yourself into the right damping. For some contrast, many performance-oriented vehicles may only have between two to three settings (including this Audi S3, which shares the same architecture as both the Golf and the Octavia).
So after a few turns, we found our sweet spot a few notches down that slider, where the suspension provided just the right amount of play… and then suddenly, everything came together. There was simply more bite from the wheels and less skipping, as the tyres found themselves more purchase. Oh yeah, we also turned off that simulated engine noise, for some in-car peace and quiet.
What is new on the fourth-generation Octavia RS, is the electronic limited-slip differential, which has a new 6th generation electro-hydraulic multi-plate clutch, designed to handle up to 1600Nm. This kept that front-end in-check throughout our B road shenanigans, and understeer in the front-drive car was almost non-existent.
The progressive steering is appreciated here, ensuring that we can change directions quickly. And while the steering wheel might not look as fancy as the one on the Golf GTi, the buttons do not get in the way as much, meaning that you do not hop out of radio stations and the like at every other corner.
Oh yes! Before I forget, there is Launch Control on the Octavia RS, for those who are keen on a little entertainment, launching from the lights; but for us, we hardly had time to mess with this. We were after-all still headed to the fine sandy beaches of Kuantan, and had only shortly passed state lines, nearing Kuala Rompin, with another 150km to go.
So… before we hop over to David in the Kodiaq RS, I would dare say, that If you could have one car which can do just about everything, and maybe, just maybe you do not have lots of space to park it (and also… maybe, just maybe you actually have that nasty bicycle habit), the Skoda Octavia Combi RS really could be that one car for you.
PHOTOS Clifford Chow, Leow Ju-Len, David Khoo & Zotiq Visuals
2022 Skoda Octavia Combi RS 2.0 TSI
Engine 1984cc, inline4, turbo
Transmission 7spd dual-clutch DSG
Top Speed 250km/h
Fuel Consumption 6.6l/100km (combined)