Skoda New Zealand's hero Octavia RS will go electric by the end of the year
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The one Skoda that has achieved near-cult status in the last two decades is the high-performance Octavia RS. It's a traditional go-fast petrol-powered sedan or (especially) wagon. So prepare yourselves for a jolt: electric power will be coming to the New Zealand model by the end of the year.
The Octavia RS iV ("iV" being Skoda's new plug-in designation) PHEV is the first-ever electric RS model, although it won't be Skoda NZ's first plug-in: it's just launched the Superb iV in sedan and wagon forms.
The Octavia RS iV matches a 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine to a battery pack giving combined output of 180kW: exactly the same as the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) model, although the plug-in is a little heavier and therefore a little slower to 100km/h: 7.3sec versus 6.7sec.
The 13kWh battery gives a claimed pure-electric range of 60km. However, in Sport mode the battery can also be used to boost the car's performance, with 330Nm available from the electric motor instantly. The petrol engine alone makes 250Nm, while peak torque from the two sources combined is 400Nm (30Nm more than the ICE version).
There will also be an iV PHEV version of the standard Octavia Style, again with the 1.4-litre turbo-petrol and battery pack, but with combined power at 150kW/350Nm.
Pricing for the new Octavia iV models is yet to be announced, but a Skoda NZ spokesperson hinted to DRIVEN a post-rebate premium of around $6000 for the Style and $9000 for the RS over their ICE equivalents (both of which will continue in the local lineup).
With Government Clean Car rebates of $5750 for PHEVs, that would place the Style iV around $60k and the RS iV at $73k.
Skoda NZ seems to be stealing a march on sister brand Volkswagen in the EV space. We're yet to have any confirmation of plug-in versions of the Golf 8, for example. Supply for many brands continues to be a real challenge thanks to Covid-19, semi-conductor shortages and massive European demand for plug-in cars.
Skoda NZ general manager Rodney Gillard reckons the local arm's success with the NZ Police fleet is helping the cause with the factory, which is further highlighted by the Government's new Clean Car policies.
"You have to understand that NZ is 0.1 per cent of global volume, so you can see how hard it is to get things across the line. It comes down to relationships."
The big prize is of course the Enyaq iV SUV, Skoda's first-ever Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV). It's a sister model to the VW ID.4.
"Enyaq is coming," says Gillard. "We're still at 2023 [for a launch], but if I was a betting man I'd say it might be earlier.
"Having the likes of the NZ Police on board is helping the argument. Having the Government changing policies is helping. What the Minister said is helping.
"The factory needs to understand how important electric is to NZ and the changes from Government, with the pressure of the Clean Car Programme is definitely helping us get Enyaq across the line. Watch this space."