Skoda Octavia RS & Triumph Street Triple RS
This is the year I turn 40 and that means it’s time to sell the house and buy a Porsche. Which ain’t gonna happen, just like the getaway to Bali that my college mates are planning ain’t gonna happen either. But one of these two are on the cards. I know I want an RS. Which RS, now that’s a question that gets answered on the second day of the New Year as I crank up the Skoda Octavia vRS and fire off my first Instagram Story. Yes sir! My mid-life crisis will be properly documented; I even banked a shot of my coffee being brewed for the #wakeup #nespresso posts that the kids insist is mandatory.
“I love it and I’ve shamelessly made every excuse in the book to borrow a series of Skoda Ocavia vRS over the past few months.”
Pre-dawn Insta Stories tutorial from our filmmaker Alameen and we proceed to annoy Pune’s fitness enthusiasts as the #OctyRS braaps up the gears. Now 2017 was an epic year and I sampled plenty of cars to blow the lottery winnings over. Except I didn’t win the lottery and that means price to performance matters a lot. The Skoda Octavia vRS has a PP ratio (I just made it up!) to blow everything else out of the water. Mind you, Rs 30 lakh isn’t cheap, but for what you get at this price – horsepower, space, practicality, Alcantara-clad sporty cabin, cool badge – nothing comes close. I love it and I’ve shamelessly made every excuse in the book to borrow a series of Skoda Ocavia vRS over the past few months.
But you know what I love best about the Skoda Octavia vRS? It’s a daily driver. The suspension is sporty and when we drove it against the BMW 330i last month it was the Bimmer that scored on ride quality (surprise! surprise!) but it still isn’t uncomfortable. The belly doesn’t scrape over speed breakers. It doesn’t stress you while driving to work everyday. The very fact that it is not a Porsche that you can’t park anywhere and gives you stress lines about getting scratched or bumped, puts you at peace. The bodywork is the same as a run-of-the-mill Octavia and for the most part you will deal with the same issues as regular Skoda owners. Or not. It is all the car you will ever need. And for those who know their cars… the RS commands respect all the way. This particular shade, Nardo Grey, is the least photogenic of the lot but I love it the most. Because it’s called Nardo, because it’s so understated, because it’s so cool. But you’re reading evo India so you don’t care about colours.
“The speeds are serious but it doesn’t feel brutal.”
Time to floor it. 227bhp is a fair bit for only front wheels to handle but the Volkswagen Group has made a habit out of churning out brilliant FWD platforms. 4WD not so much but their FWD cars have always been awesomely capable and this MQB platform with stiffer RS-spec damping is a riot. Our test car has done the rounds of magazine testing and every one of quickshifter and it snarls, howls, shrieks and sends shivers down your spine. Of course there are plenty of motors that send shivers down your spine but what works for the Street Triple RS is the exact same thing that makes the Skoda Octavia vRS so brilliant. Usability. Ease. Composure. Forgiveness. Any twit can get into a fast car and drive fast. A twit on a fast bike will die. At least the Street Triple RS does not kill you instantly. From the first corner that you tip the Triple RS into, you know this chassis is special.
The speeds are serious but it doesn’t feel brutal. It’s just… so… easy. You whip up that beauty of a motor and the sublime chassis means there are no heart-stopping wiggles and wags. It literally floats from corner to corner, the steering is so easy and quick and the wide handlebars put you in control of the bike. The Triple RS; it does everything. In the hands of our stunting pro Hrishi Mandke, and with the electronics switched off, it will pull wheelies all day long, making it look effortless. In the hands of mortals like your writer, the traction control makes sure the front wheel doesn’t go skywards giving you a seizure, or the rear wheel lifts off giving you another seizure.
“You can dial the Triple RS down on the traction control and accidentally whacking open the throttle won’t kill you.”
Oh the brakes. What brakes! It takes half the day to get to grips with how good the Brembo M50s are and just how late you can get on them. There’s no fatigue, no fade, the only limit is how late you can dare yourself into braking. And then after a day of thrashing the bike around, your bones aren’t aching like mad. At 40, that’s something to think about! You don’t want to go for a Sunday ride and hobble around like there’s a stick up your backside through the week. The track-oriented suspension is stiff on the road, I grant you that, but some careful setting up to your weight and it should be okay. The seat is wide and nicely padded, the pegs are low and the ergonomics are great for street riding. It didn’t inflame my tailbone.
You can dial it down on the traction control and accidentally whacking open the throttle won’t kill you. This is the bee’s-knees. There’s nothing to fault it for. Nothing is built to a price. The kit is top drawer. Showa Big Piston forks up front and Ohlins at the rear. Rubber is Pirelli’s super-sticky Supercorsa SPs. The TFT dashboard makes the Skoda Octavia vRS look, erm, cheap. The slip-assist clutch has a precisely light lever action and the ride-by-wire throttle is equally precise and jerk free. And the engine will power the Moto2 grid from next year – how’s that for bragging rights? The Triumph Street Triple RS isn’t the most powerful, most exotic, most expensive or even the most gorgeous bike I rode in in 2017. But it is the best bike I rode in 2017. Now I have six months to decide which RS makes it to my garage.