Prior to my weekend with the Skoda Octavia RS245, the only fun fact I knew about the Czech Republic was its runner-up position in the 1996 European Championships. I remember seeing Czech hearts being crushed after Oliver Bierhoff headed in the winning goal during extra time; the football team never reached the same heights again.
But while the country has faded into obscurity in the sporting arena, its automotive exports are making a lot of noise for all the right reasons. And the carmaker leading the charge is Skoda.
The brand had departed the local market a number of years ago, but returned last year thanks to the Volkswagen Group. Within a year, Skoda has managed to capture a significant market share, and even garnered a few awards along the way. With the launch of the Octavia RS245, I reckon that its second year here will prove to be just as fruitful.
At its core, the RS245 is a performance car and its masculine looks – aggressive rims and large brakes the colour of a matador’s cape – hint at the power beneath the hood. That, it has in spades. The turbocharged two-litre engine pumps out 242 horses, just slightly more than the Volkswagen Golf GTI. Yet, the RS245 costs almost $40,000 less. While both complete the century sprint in the same time (6.4s), the Skoda is notably weightier.
Its size and heft, however, belie the car’s surprising agility. Due to Skoda’s decision to employ a limited-slip differential, the RS245 speeds out of the corner faster than most of its contemporaries, without any risk of understeer. There’s a lot more to discover and like about the Skoda Octavia RS245. Just know this: we don’t think this Czech will just be a runner-up.