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With 191,900 units delivered last year, the Octavia consolidated its position as the best-selling Skoda. It’s getting a nip and tuck for 2024, an update that brings styling revisions, a bigger display, and a streamlined engine lineup. The Czech brand is also unveiling the flagship RS, complete with the more practical wagon body style and a bit of extra oomph.

A more spacious alternative to the recently updated Volkswagen Golf, the Octavia gets new matrix LED headlights that look a bit like they’re melting. The new lights have an adaptive glare-free high beam and will be an optional feature on the lesser trim levels but standard on the RS. The latter has lost the separate lower lights that Skoda had been mounting inside the bumper since the second-generation Octavia RS facelift launched in 2009.

The rear has been largely carried over, although the optional design for the taillights now sends a bit of an Audi vibe. The 2024 Octavia comes with a refreshed array of alloy wheels varying in size from 16 to 19 inches, along with daring colors like Phoenix Orange and Mamba Green. The font used for the make and model have been discreetly revised while the RS logo at the front and rear is bigger now.

Predictably, the cabin has been largely carried over, except for a new infotainment system with an enlarged screen featuring a 13-inch diagonal. Even the base mode now has a 10-inch digital instrument cluster and dual-zone automatic climate control. Skoda has updated the trim and upholstery options while retaining the ventilated and massaging front seats available at an additional cost.

Surprisingly, the engine lineup has some glaring emissions because there’s no mention of a plug-in hybrid, even though the Golf eHybrid is sticking around. In addition, the Octavia RS is only going to be offered with a gasoline engine, meaning that the 2.0-liter diesel that was offered with front- and all-wheel drive is no more. Perhaps the demise of the 2.0 TDI in the sporty version is no big surprise seeing as how diesels have fallen out of favor in Europe. So much so that pure electric cars outsold diesels in Europe last year for the first time, according to data published by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA).

A performance diesel is a niche model, and with emissions regulations getting stricter, the death of the oil-burner Octavia RS makes sense. After all, the mechanically related Golf GTD is also gone. Skoda is not saying a word about the Octavia RS iV plug-in hybrid either, despite the fact VW will continue to sell a Golf GTE.

Skoda Octavia (2024)
Skoda Octavia Combi (2024)

The regular Octavia has lost the three-cylinder, 1.0 TSI engine, meaning the lineup now kicks off with the larger 1.5 TSI. The four-pot unit is available in standard and mild-hybrid configurations and you can choose from either 114 hp and 220 Nm (162 lb-ft) or 148 hp and 250 Nm (184 lb-ft). The non-electrified variants come with a six-speed manual gearbox whereas the ones with 48V technology get a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. The 1.5 TSI models are exclusively front-wheel drive.

The flagship, FWD-only Octavia RS uses an upgraded 2.0 TSI engine now making 261 hp, an extra 20 hp compared to the pre-facelift model. It matches the grunt of the new Golf GTI and offers 370 Nm (272 lb-ft), a torque figure that remains unchanged. The clutch pedal is nowhere to be found, echoing Wolfsburg’s DSG-only hot hatch.

Come 2025, Skoda is going to introduce an all-wheel-drive gasoline version with a 2.0 TSI dialed to 201 hp channeled to both axles via a DSG. It’s an increase of 13 hp compared to the previous model offered with this engine. Torque stays the same, at 320 Nm (236 lb-ft).

Skoda Octavia RS (2024)
Skoda Octavia (2024)

Meanwhile, a diesel engine is still available, a 2.0 TDI with either 114 hp and 300 Nm (221 lb-ft) or 148 hp and 360 Nm (266 lb-ft). The former sticks to a manual gearbox whereas the latter is an auto-only affair, with both having a FWD setup.

Going forward, Skoda is adjusting the trim structure by selling the 2024 Octavia in Essence, Selection, Sportline, and RS flavors. A luxury-oriented Laurin & Klement is not available.

With VW already announcing the next-gen Golf is going to be completely electric, we could be looking at the final update for the Octavia in the combustion engine era. Since moving underneath the VW Group umbrella, Skoda has delivered more than seven million units of its most popular car, across four generations. To this number, we can add the 360,000 examples of the original rear-wheel-drive Octavia sold between 1959 and 1971. An Octavia-like electric wagon is scheduled to go on sale in 2026.

The chances of seeing Skoda in the United States are slim to none as former VW Group CEO Herbert Diess ruled it out in an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on Reddit a couple of years ago. It’s a real shame since the Octavia RS Combi would be an excellent all-rounder in America’s rarified car segment. This is basically a Golf GTI wagon, ideal for a one-car garage. VW does sell a more expensive Golf R wagon with 315 hp, AWD, and a DSG in some markets, but that one too is a forbidden fruit here.

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