Michael L purchased this Skoda Octavia new for $39,000 (including all on-road costs). Michael L would buy this car again because: “The Skoda Octavia RS is an exceptional, sporty family wagon with real ability. It’s just as comfortable lugging the family to sport or holidays as it is carving up a twisty country road, or surprising unsuspecting drivers at the traffic light drags.”
It was exceptionally reliable… for the first five years at least! I had very few issues in the first five years of ownership other than topping up the oil once in between services, which you expect with VW Group cars.
But after five years (and just after the warranty expired!) the plastic sump tray deformed over the years in the heat and started leaking oil. That was about $1500 to fix. But nothing nightmarish, and no issues with Skoda support.
My wife and I purchased an MY17 Skoda Octavia RS 162TSI wagon from Thomson Skoda in Parramatta. I wasn’t new to the Volkswagen ‘family’ – I have previously owned a 2012 Volkswagen Polo GTI (6R), and I replaced that with a 2014 Volkswagen Golf GTI (MK7).
When we got engaged, I agreed to sell the Golf in order to save money for the wedding. It was damn hard, but we did it, and traded down (way down) to my mum’s old RAV4.
I sold the Golf on the proviso that when we were married we would get a new car. Well, in the spring of 2017, we were only back from the honeymoon for 24 hours when a demonstrator offer I couldn’t refuse came up, and I immediately bought this lovely Skoda Octavia RS wagon in Black Magic.
Factory options fitted include the 19-inch Black Pack (19-inch wheels), Tech Pack (push-button start, upgraded stereo, and a host of driving tech like radar cruise control and semi-autonomous parking), as well as the panoramic sunroof. It all came in under $40K (2017), which was bang on our budget. I think it helped that the facelifted model had just come out to drive the price of this pre-facelift car down.
We only required one car between us but I love driving, so whatever car we bought had to be fun to drive. Only having one car meant that it needed to be able to carry a load, and I never seriously considered any SUVs because there are none available under $40K that appeal to the driving enthusiast in me.
So the choice came down to sporty wagons. The Holden Commodore SV6 was too big and brash, and used too much fuel. The Renault Megane was an appealing-looking car, but just didn’t have the zip I wanted. The Subaru Levorg was a consideration, but the CVT really killed the driving joy for me. Audis, BMWs and Mercs were too expensive for us, as much as I wanted a Euro car.
I came across Skodas for the first time as part of a VW owner’s group when i got my 6R Polo GTI. I had no real knowledge of the brand before. But the kind of people that owned them really appealed to me. I never met a Skoda owner that was a jerk. You don’t end up in a Skoda by accident normally. The process when coming to buying a Skoda usually involves a lot of detailed research and thought, perhaps that lends itself to good people owning them.
As a young married couple, the car suited our needs perfectly. Sporty enough that my driving satisfaction needs were met, safe enough that my wife was happy with the purchase, and practical enough we could haul all the IKEA we wanted home. And when our son came along a few years later it proved the perfect family car too. It swallowed all the prams, toys, travel cots, and other bits and bobs that come with a newborn.
I was slightly worried about the resale value of the car after 3–5 years, but the thing that sealed the deal for me was that Skoda offered me five years factory warranty, five years free servicing, and five years roadside assist. The savings and peace of mind this brought really tipped me over the edge into Skoda ownership. When eventually traded the car in (for a new Skoda Kodiaq RS) after 5 years, thanks to COVID making the market crazy, I got a decent price.
The experience wasn’t all roses, though. Literally one day after driving the car away from Thomson Skoda, the car beeped saying the oil level was too low.
A week later, it required washer fluid (okay, no big deal), and two weeks later, the car beeped again saying that the coolant level was too low! Now, it was a demonstrator with 6000km on it when I bought it, but I still would have expected that the dealer had checked oil and coolant as part of the pre-delivery checks they do.
I had few troubles though the first 80,000km of driving, but some issues began to occur right as the 5 year warranty expired. The sump tray, which is plastic, deformed in the heat and began leaking oil. That was a $1500 fix.
The shocks wore out around 90,000km. I seemed to be forever buying new tyres as the razor thin rubber on the 19-inch wheels cannot take even the smallest pothole, of which there are many around Sydney.
The car came with the first 5 scheduled services for free as part of the financing deal at the time, and I must say that there were no major issues, and indeed not small issues that couldn’t be fixed by the service department at Sydney City Skoda, where I ended up servicing it.
I was slightly disappointed that blind-spot monitoring, auto-folding mirrors, and electric seats were all cost options. I felt as though a car in this price bracket should probably have these as standard.
Additionally, my Golf GTI had the switchable suspension which was nice, and the Octavia didn’t offer it. I guess the have to save money to offer the car as a “value” proposition somehow.
The car came with the panoramic sunroof, which I loved so much I basically can’t live without it.
Having owned the Golf GTI before, I knew a lot about how this car was going to drive. I was not disappointed. It may be a few tenths or so slower than the Golf due to the extra weight it carries, but it doesn’t feel it behind the wheel.
The DSG does have that famous hesitation off the line, but it’s really only noticeable when absolutely flooring it from a stopped position, and I don’t do that very often. The car will still beat 90 per cent of the rest of the traffic at the traffic-light drag race. It’s the perfect sleeper car too, as people have no idea what it is or how fast it can go!
Driving around town like a normal person, the car is very easy to drive and behaves exactly how you want it to. It’s a kitten when driving in a docile manner, but plant the foot and it comes to life. Push the vRS Drive Mode button and select Sport mode, and the car turns into an animal – it just wants to attack the road. The engine holds the revs nicely, and the steering feels even more direct and connected.
Push the Drive-mode button again and select Eco mode, and the car becomes quite sedate – shifting up early to conserve fuel, the stop-start engine system becomes quite aggressive and will switch off even when just slowing towards a stop. The engine also engages neutral when coasting to save fuel. I quite like this feature. There’s another kind of driving pleasure to be derived from trying to drive as economically as possible and achieving the lowest litres per 100km figure you can!
Economy was good for a car that was often driven spiritedly. The usual work commute averaged about 9.5L/100km and the trip to our Jervis Bay holiday house averaged high 6s per 100km.
Overall, it had all the tech I needed at the time. Apple Carplay (wired) was smart, speedy and quite intuitive to use while driving.
The 8.0-inch touchscreen looked huge back in 2017 but perhaps now looks pretty average. The sat-nav system is good, and while it is not online it has a lot of stored points of interest: shopping, petrol stations, restaurants, landmarks etc. Just make sure you get it updated as roads seem to change constantly.
Especially on our way down south to our holiday house, it always seemed to think I was driving in a paddock and not on one of the beautiful new roads.
In hindsight, perhaps one of the things I didn’t love about this car was the firm suspension and the harsh ride on the 19″ wheels. I always wanted to downsize the wheels and upsize the tyres but never seemed to have the money or time to get it done before I sold it. The wheels were all rashed when I sold it, the huge wheels did make parking in tight city spaces a bit tough.
The handling for a “family wagon” was frankly phenomenal. One of the great joys of driving the Octavia RS is how it corners.
The steering is beautifully light, and while electronic, feels beautifully connected. Really, there’s very little different about the way it drives compared to the Golf, which is pleasing because it is a joy to drive. You forget that there’s a wagon behind you, as it does feel very much like a smaller hatchback to drive.
You could throw it around a corner at almost any speed and you never felt out of control.
The leather-trimmed bucket seats hold you nicely. I have a bad lower back and they were a godsend for me.
The back seats are big enough for fully grown adults to travel long distances, and while the car is not massive, the boot is absolutely huge. It swallows all our holiday luggage, and if you put the back seats down, the space is cavernous. I regularly transported large rolls of fabric for my job, and this car took them easily.
One of the heartbreaking things about owning a Skoda is that so many people have no idea what a Skoda is. I have had people ask me ‘What kind of Holden is that?’, ‘Is that an Audi?’ and ‘What’s a Skoda?’.
I really hope Skoda can get its brand recognition up there because it makes a fantastic car. It seems that owning a Skoda is a considered choice – you don’t end up with a Skoda unless you’ve done a good amount of research into the options available in the market.
All in all, the Skoda Octavia RS wagon was a perfect fit for me, and my young family, and I loved driving it.