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Skoda Octavia RS sedan 2023 review


The Skoda Octavia RS finds itself in a shrinking sedan market here in Australia, but what’s so good about the performance sedan that really turns the tables?

Good points

  • Brilliant driving dynamics
  • Strong 2.0-litre turbo engine
  • Front diff provides plenty of grip
  • Responsive dual-clutch gearbox
  • More affordable than a Golf GTI
  • Long seven-year warranty

Needs work

  • No electric seats as standard
  • Cheap-feeling shift paddles
  • Fake engine note a little boomy 
  • No wireless Android Auto
  • Quiet on the outside
  • Needs more engine theatrics!

In the final moments of Chasing Cars’ first Car of the Year, in March 2022, there were some very strong competitors fighting for the crown.

But from a field of 39 variants and 20 cars, the Skoda Octavia came out as number one. Chasing Cars editor Tom Baker said at the time that the Octavia “delivers a premium experience at an affordable price” and is “one of the best-resolved cars the Volkswagen Group has ever made”.

Skoda Octavia RS rear 3/4 close

Fast forward a year and I’ve been given the keys to a Skoda Octavia RS sedan to see whether we got the whole thing right at COTY 2022.

Priced currently at $55,990 driveaway, the Octavia RS sedan undercuts its related cousin, the Volkswagen Golf GTI, by $4000, yet offers more on the practicality front and provides the same levels of performance.

I’ve always seen Skoda as the underdog, but the truth is that cars such as the Octavia punch well above their weight. They might not sell in ridiculous numbers, but Skoda is a brand worth respecting.

Skoda Octavia RS front 3/4 side

The RS performance badge has been paired with the Octavia range since 1996 when the first generation of Octavia first went on sale.

Initially sold with a 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 133kW of power, the Octavia RS would later be made available with both the option of a manual or dual-clutch automatic transmission and even could be had in TDI turbo-diesel guise for some time.

Unsurprisingly, the diesel version made more torque than the current Octavia RS we have on test – 380Nm to be exact. The turbo-diesel went off sale in Australia in 2018.

Skoda Octavia RS 2023 badge

So which cars does the current Octavia RS sedan compete against? It’s a small, exclusive segment, this one.

The Hyundai i30 Sedan N is a strong choice, is similarly priced and offers a bit more power and torque. But now, let’s find out all about the 2023 Skoda Octavia.

What are the Octavia RS’s features and options for the price?

As standard, the Skoda Octavia RS comes very well equipped. Key features include a 10-inch central touchscreen, a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto connectivity, wireless phone charging, five USB-C ports (two front, two rear and one near the rear-view mirror), and four cup holders and four drink bottle bins.

Also included for comfort are RS fabric sports seats (manual adjust only), dual-zone climate control and a handy umbrella located in the driver’s door.

Skoda Octavia RS 2023 wheel

There is one option pack currently available for the Octavia RS, which costs $5400 and includes:

  • Adaptive damper suspension 
  • Head-up display 
  • Artificial leather upholstery 
  • Three-zone climate control
  • Powered and heated front seats
  • Side assist safety system with rear cross traffic alert 

The Octavia is available in several colours, including the brilliant Mamba green.

Interestingly, Mamba Green is a no-cost option, with all other colours costing, bar Velvet Red Metallic ($1100), $770. Colour choices include Race Blue Metallic, Moon White Metallic, Graphite Grey Metallic, Brilliant Silver Metallic and Black Magic Pearlescent.

Skoda Octavia RS 2023 umbrella

How does the Octavia RS stack up, then, in terms of feature and option value?

Without the option pack, I think the Octavia RS is still incredible value. As I will talk about later in the review, the car really doesn’t need adaptive dampers or artificial leather seats. The Octavia RS is great just how it is.

How does the Octavia RS drive?

Driving out on the road in the RS, it doesn’t take long to come to an immediate conclusion: this is one of the most polished all-round performance cars you can buy for under $60,000 driveaway. And I’ll tell you why.

When you drive the Octavia RS for the first time, you are met with a refined driving experience thanks to a smooth seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and quiet 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine.

Skoda Octavia RS 2023 driving front 3/4 far 3

This drivetrain produces 180kW of power and 370Nm of torque. You might think those are relatively modest numbers when compared to the likes of the 206kW/392Nm Hyundai i30 Sedan N or even the 206kW/350Nm Volkswagen Passat R-Line.

But trust me when I say that the RS’s 180kW tune is more than adequate in 90 percent of situations.

This is the identical engine and tune used in the current Mk8 Volkswagen Golf GTI, and makes the RS feel properly rapid right through the rev range.

Pinning the throttle pedal to the firewall results in a huge boost of torque that never really stops pulling you along. The EA888 engine is a deceptive one and truly feels larger in capacity than what it really is.

Skoda Octavia RS 2023 driving rear 3/4 5

If you do find yourself on a winding mountain pass, or perhaps just your favourite backroad, this is where you’ll experience the shining light of the Octavia RS.

Flick the transmission lever back to S, push the Sport button in the driver mode screen and row through the gears yourself with the paddle shifters and you’ll find the secret mongrel spirit of the Octavia.

The intake sound gets louder, the shifts get faster, the steering sharpens – this family sedan sure does have the power and poise to make the best hot hatches nervous.

Skoda Octavia RS 2023 engine

During testing, it was bucketing with rain (in typical east coast Sydney style), yet as I tackled some of the best corners south of Sydney, the Bridgestone Potenza rubber gripped down with complete confidence and I was amazed at the way the RS pulled itself out of tight corners, even in such a low-grip scenario.

No noticeable torque steer, no sketchy behaviour.

I described to a colleague that the RS felt as sharp as a scalpel – precise and capable of pinpoint accuracy. I did not expect to see, hear and feel the brilliance of such a corner carver.

Skoda has fitted a limited-slip differential to the front end of the RS and this only adds to the driving experience and the precise way that it delivers its power and torque to the road surface.

Skoda Octavia RS 2023 driving front 3/4 corner 2

I would not be surprised if the RS was capable of catching a much faster vehicle on a mountain pass – the capabilities of this car are really something else.

The ride, too, is well dialled in. Whether you’re doing the school run through the city streets or driving up the mountains, the passive sports suspension setup seems really well tuned for Australian road conditions.

Do you need the $5400 option to gain the adaptive dampers, among other things? I really don’t think you’ll need to invest further.

Skoda Octavia RS 2023 driving rear 3/4 4

I did not once think that I needed the option to change the softness of the setup myself – this passive setup really is a jack of all trades and something that Skoda’s engineers should be proud of.

But as much as the RS is capable right at the limit, it really begins to shine as a fine daily driver. It’s surprisingly comfortable, among other things.

I took some good friends of mine for a ride while the car was in my tenure and all of them agreed on one thing: they’d have no problem sitting in the sports seats for extended periods of time.

Skoda Octavia RS 2023 driving front 3/4 far 4

It’s rather quiet and refined when you’re not chasing the redline. The suspension handled the pretty poor road surfaces of Sydney’s inner suburbs with relative ease. I found myself asking the question: what can this Octavia not do?

It’s surprisingly powerful and capable all at once, and ultimately a comfortable car for the whole family. But what’s it like inside?

What is the Octavia RS’s interior and tech like?

The Octavia RS might impress with stellar driving dynamics and handling, but how is it inside in terms of creature comforts?

When you get into the RS, your eyes are immediately drawn to the dual-screen setup: a 10.0-inch centre touchscreen and 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster. Both screens work really well, and I was impressed with how much customisation you could do with the instrument cluster screen.

Skoda Octavia RS 2023 interior
Skoda Octavia RS 2023 interior buttons

You can tailor it just how you like, whether you want to see sports functions and outputs during a drive or the opposite: fuel economy and driving range. You can also put the navigation into the instrument cluster in a total Audi-like moment – however, it doesn’t pair with Google Maps, unfortunately.

Speaking of Google, Android Auto is wired for the Octavia RS, however Apple CarPlay is wireless.

It’s nice that Skoda hasn’t removed all physical buttons from the cabin. There are still toggle switches for climate control and drive modes, for example. The climate control pairs well with the screen software and is easy to use.

Skoda Octavia RS 2023 front seat

When you look around the cabin, the Octavia RS can’t hide its Volkswagen roots, but that’s certainly not a bad thing.

Despite not having leather seats and plentiful soft plastics, the RS still feels really premium and is genuinely a nice place to spend time in.

The sports seats are comfortable yet well bolstered if you do happen to find yourself whipping around a few corners here and there. They hold you tight but are soft and supple. I like the RS logos on them, too.

Skoda Octavia RS 2023 interior back seat

With the driver’s seat in my comfortable driving position, the back seat is still pretty roomy and spacious for anyone smaller than about 180cm.

If you’re taller than that, the back seat might be a little cramped for longer journeys. There is a fold down armrest with dual cup holders and two USB-C ports to power devices to keep the little ones amused.

The Octavia RS sedan we have on test has a huge 600-litre boot and also includes a cargo net, side storage bins and, in the case of our test example, a hanging grocery carrier.

Skoda Octavia RS 2023 interior boot

The sheer volume makes the Volkswagen Golf GTI’s 381-litre rear cargo space seem tiny in comparison.

All in all, the Octavia RS proves to not just be extremely capable behind the wheel but equally as practical, whether the RS is the main family car or a weekend warrior.

Is the Octavia RS a safe car?

The Skoda Octavia was awarded a five-star safety rating by Australian safety regime ANCAP in 2019.

The assessment scores in detail were 92 percent for adult occupant protection, 87 percent for child occupant protection, 73 percent for vulnerable road user protection and 79 percent for safety assist systems.

Skoda Octavia NCAP testing

The Octavia RS is fitted as standard with the following safety features, including:

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Driver fatigue detection 
  • Emergency assist 
  • Exist warning 
  • AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection 
  • Lane assist with adaptive lane guidance
  • Traffic jam assist 
  • Tyre pressure monitoring 
  • Speed limiter 
  • front, centre, knee and side airbags 

In terms of feature tuning, the Skoda Octavia RS sedan is surprisingly good at masking its safety abilities. The onboard systems didn’t feel intrusive or annoying and seem to run in the background without making a fuss. 

You can easily change the safety assistance settings via a dedicated button on the steering wheel, if for example you want to turn off the lane-keep assist function. 

What are the Octavia RS’s ownership costs?

When talking about the Octavia’s ownership costs, the RS is covered by a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

Skoda offers service pack pricing for the Octavia, which will cost owners $2600 over a period of five years with an average service price of $520 per year. A seven-year pack is also available priced at $3400. Servicing is required every 12 months or 15,000kms.

Skoda Octavia RS 2023 interior seat logo

When compared to one of the RS’s biggest competitors, the Hyundai i30 Sedan N, the Skoda is significantly more expensive to service. Hyundai quotes just $1675 for five years of servicing, albeit at shorter 10,000km intervals.

In terms of average fuel economy, Skoda claims a combined fuel economy figure of 6.8L/100km. However, throughout a week of dedicated testing in a range of conditions including highway, city and sporty driving, we returned a higher combined figure of 7.3L/100km.

However, it’s worth noting that if driving rather enthusiastically, the Octavia RS will push into the high eights and nines for fuel economy. The Octavia has a 50-litre fuel tank and requires premium 95-octane unleaded fuel.

The honest verdict on the Octavia RS

I’ve come away from my time with the Skoda Octavia RS with a great sense of sadness. Not because I’ve wanted for more, or that some things weren’t up to scratch. Instead, I feel sad because I want one and, on my pay packet, I won’t be able to afford one for quite some time.

The Octavia is without doubt a car with several desirable traits, each better and more sophisticated than the last. It is, in my eyes, a perfect daily driver. But it’s also a car that rewards you the more that you push it.

Skoda Octavia RS 2023 driving rear 3/4 corner 5

It’s a practical and stylish performance car that can play the role of school runabout or city commuter. But, most importantly, when you want to drive it to within an inch of its life and really have some fun, it will be there for you and reward every single one of your inputs.

It’s a really fun car, but I guess it can’t be entirely perfect. No car is.

The synthesised engine note can be a little over-the-top and droney from time to time, the seats are manual units only and the shift paddles mounted to the steering wheel feel a little cheap and tacky. But all in all, I could happily live with this small list of cons.

Skoda Octavia RS front 3/4 close

As I’ve said, I’ve come away from the Octavia RS feeling sad, but deep down I’m pretty bloody happy. It was an absolute pleasure to pilot the RS for the week.

I’m going to have to cut back on my smashed avocado toast and multiple daily coffees. I just need an Octavia RS in my garage.

I’m hoping one day I can make it happen. Well done to you, Skoda. This car is a peach.

Overall rating
Overall rating
Running costs
Overall rating
Running costs
Approximate on‑road price Including registration and government charges

Key specs (as tested)

1984 cc
180kW at 6500rpm
370Nm at 1600rpm
Power to weight ratio
Fuel type
Fuel capacity
50 litres
6.8L/100km (claimed)
Average Range
735km (claimed)
Front Wheel Drive
4702 mm
1829 mm
1457 mm
Unoccupied weight
1480 kg

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