Skoda Octavia RS iV review: performance wagon with intravenous electicity
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Skoda Octavia RS iV wagon
Clean Car Rebate
- Beautifully integrated PHEV tech
- Better cabin ergonomics than VW Golf
- Practical performance wagon
- RS ICE sportier in every way
- Big price premium for plug-in
- PHEV version loses bootspace
Skoda New Zealand seems to be getting the jump on sister brand Volkswagen with its plug-in models. VW’s struggle to get anything electric out of Europe for Kiwis right now is well known: not just the ID range of battery electric vehicles (BEVs), but anything mainstream with plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) technology.
Skoda NZ is similarly hamstrung with the much-anticipated Enyaq BEV (its equivalent to the VW ID.4), but it does now have a bunch of PHEVs on the books.
It started last year with the Superb iV, the case with the factory helped by NZ Police enthusiasm about trying it on fleet. Now we have the Octavia iV, in a two-tier lineup topped by an RS version, no less.
In case you haven’t twigged already, “iV” is Skoda-speak for plug-in electric power.
The Octavia range is dominated by the wagon of course, which is very Kiwi – but also now very niche in an age of SUVs.
There are a few caveats with the RS iV. Despite the badge, it’s arguably more a powered-up version of the standard Style iV than an electric alternative to the internal combustion engine (ICE)-only RS: it gets the Style’s 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine and 13kWh plug-in battery, just with an extra 30kW/50Nm to make 180kW/400Nm.
So the RS iV does match the ICE version’s peak power, and it looks the part with all the RS warpaint. But the suspension doesn't go all the way to peak RS; more about that in a minute.
Auckland | Auckland City
$750.13 p/w $3,000.53 p/m
Auckland | Auckland City
$447.30 p/w $1,789.22 p/m
The PHEV is relatively expensive, too. At $72,990 the RS iV qualifies for a $5750 Clean Car Discount, making the real-world price $67,240. But that’s still $8250 more than the ICE version, so it’s up to you whether the electric-only commuting potential justifies the extra outlay.
Which is pretty decent, by the way. Skoda claims “up to 60km” in EV mode and during our week it was consistently offering 50-55km on a full charge in city commuting conditions.
The PHEV tech is nicely intuitive. You can select eMode and use the battery first, tick Auto and let the car decide how to use the powertrain, or specify what level of charge you’d like to maintain while you drive, via a simple graphic on the infotainment screen. That means you can charge the battery with the petrol engine if needed/wanted - more a feature for European congestion zones, but a nice feature nonetheless.
Electric running aside, the iV is virtually line-ball with the ICE model in the 0-100km/h sprint: just 0.2sec behind at 7sec neat. So it’s definitely not short of grunt.
It’s relaxed and torquey in town, but as with the larger Superb iV (same powertrain) that 1.4-litre starts to feel a little thin when stretched. Aurally, the RS iV has an answer in the form of a sound generator that pipes a growly engine note into the cabin under load in Sport mode. It can grate a little in the RS ICE, but it seems a lot more entertaining in the iV.
The RS iV has a slightly mysterious suspension setup. According to Skoda NZ it’s in a sportier state of tune, but it also rides a lot higher than the RS ICE – the same as the standard iV in fact. So it’s kind of a half-way house.
The RS iV does still get Progressive Steering and the XDS+ Front Differential Lock, a sporty adjunct to the traction control system that helps the front wheels maintain traction when you’re pressing on.
A higher, slightly softer RS is no bad thing, especially when you have that special steering/traction technology in the mix. It’s a very capable open-road machine; it’s just not as gung-ho as the RS ICE.
The Octavia has picked up 75 per cent of the minimalist cabin architecture of the sister VW Golf 8 – and that’s a good number, because you get the swish virtual stuff but also get to keep some physical buttons for key features.
There are some genuinely clever touches in there, too. The climate control recognises when there’s no front-seat passenger for example, and switches that side to Eco mode to save power. Also love the on-screen climate shortcuts: “Defog windows”, “Warm my feet” and so on.
You lose 150 litres of luggage space in the iV thanks to the extra PHEV batteries, which would be major in most cars. But the Octavia is an incredibly practical wagon to start with, so you’re still left with a very serviceable 490l.
The iV still feels as special as any RS inside: it has the fancy seats, the Alcantara trim and Rallye Sport logos everywhere. It’s just the powertrain experience and handling character that fall short of what the RS ICE can offer. The iV is good; just not as good.
There is an RS Plus Pack that adds a bunch of extra equipment including 19-inch wheels and the full Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) adaptive suspension, but that’s another $6450. It theoretically makes for an even more dynamically appealing RS iV, but to be honest we’d probably stick with the $7k-cheaper Style iV and be very happy.
At $60,240 after the Clean Car Discount, the entry Style iV seems to offer a winning blend of value and performance. And you can always shout yourself the $5450 Style Plus Pack or some nice wheels with the change.
SKODA OCTAVIA RS iV WAGON
ENGINE: 1.4-litre turbo-petrol four with 13kWh plug-in battery and electric motor
GEARBOX: 6-speed automated dual clutch (DSG), FWD
CONSUMPTION: 1.6l/100km, 37g/km, EV range 60km
PRICE: $72,990 (qualifies for $5750 Clean Car Discount)