The 2017 Skoda Octavia RS was launched in India at a price of Rs 24.62 lakh (ex-showroom, pan-India). Previous iterations of the Skoda Octavia RS have enjoyed popularity among enthusiasts and have been known to be great handlers apart from offering a slight performance punch and sporty styling. However, with no performance-focussed variants of other sedans in its segment, this third-generation 230PS Skoda Octavia RS is the only choice if you are looking for the same. In a similar 'segment by itself' is the Volkswagen Polo GTI, the only 192PS hot hatch, which costs Rs 19.9 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).
At 4,689mm, the Skoda Octavia RS is 19mm longer than the Skoda Octavia 1.8 TSI Style Plus, and also 20mm taller. The former's wheelbase is 9mm shorter than the Skoda Octavia 1.8. The Octavia RS weighs 1,418kg which is 42kg more than its 1.8 TSI sibling. This added weight negates the power gain of the new motor as we will see below. The Volkswagen Polo meanwhile is shorter by a metre, considering it is a hatchback, and weighs 1.273kg.
The 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol TSI engine in the Skoda Octavia RS produces 230PS of power, which results in a power to weight ratio of nearly 130PS per ton. This a smidge lower than the 131PS per ton on the lighter Skoda 1.8 TSI. The 1.8-litre TSI engine on the VW Polo GTI produces 192PS, leading to a much better 151PS per ton. However, the Octavia RS wins out on the torque front with 350Nm, while the other two produce a similar 250Nm.
All this power isn't worth anything if it doesn't reach the wheels. The Polo GTI and the Octavia 1.8 both come kitted with a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox and paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. The RS, meanwhile, features a six-speed automatic gearbox. The change in gearing may result significantly in terms of response, but how this car behaves will be clear once we get our hands on it.
Traction is a major aspect when it comes to better performance and the Skoda Octavia RS definitely wins this one with wider 225-section tyres sitting on larger 17-inch rims than its 1.8 TSI sibling. The Polo's tyres are close featuring a 215-section, but have 16-inch rims. What will add to the grip is the stance of the car, and at 141mm, the ground clearance of the Octavia RS is 9mm lower than its sibling, meaning the car carries its weight closer to the ground, that potentially reduces its body roll through quick cornering manoeuvres.
Price-wise, the Rs 24.62 lakh cost of the Skoda Octavia RS makes it the highest priced car in this comparison, and the Volkswagen Polo GTI which received a price-cut is the cheapest at Rs 19.9 lakh, and the Skoda Octavia 1.8 TSI Style Plus costs Rs 20.9 lakh (all prices ex-showroom, Delhi). So while the price advantage may be in favour of the Polo GTI, the Skoda Octavia RS brings with it the luxury and status of a sedan as well as torquey motor and sportier dynamics that may make it quicker. How well each goes around a track remains to be seen.