Škoda RS: 40 Years Of The Cult Of Speed

May 27, 2014 By Mike Lee
Last updated on August 6, 2015
  • ŠKODA 180 RS/200 RS: established in 1974 as the first original RS models of ŠKODA’s successful motorsport era of the 1970s and 1980s
  • Legendary ‘Porsche of the East’: the ŠKODA 130 RS
  • The new era: from the first generation ŠKODA Octavia RS (2000) to the fastest ŠKODA Octavia of all time (2013)

RS – ŠKODA aficionados associate these initials which, according to ŠKODA historians, stand for Rally Sport, with very sporty, racy, classy and dynamic cars. The ŠKODA RS story began in 1974 with the ŠKODA 180 RS and ŠKODA 200 RS racing cars. The legendary ŠKODA 130 RS in the 1970s and 1980s was one of the most successful sports cars of its time. The Czech car makers launched the ŠKODA Octavia RS (known in the UK as Octavia vRS) as the first RS model of the new era in 2000. Then came the ŠKODA Fabia RS (also known in the UK as Fabia vRS) in 2003. The new ŠKODA Octavia RS has been the current star of the ŠKODA RS racers for the past year – it is the fastest and most powerful Octavia of all time.

“Our RS models are sporty power machines for the ŠKODA brand,” says ŠKODA CEO Prof. Dr. h.c. Winfried Vahland. “This is just as true today as it was 40 years ago. The RS initials denote ŠKODA’s successes in motorsport as well as the high performance and passion represented by select production models. They are an expression of our outstanding motorsport tradition,” says Vahland.

1974: ŠKODA 180 RS and 200 RS – spectacular racing cars

ŠKODA used the abbreviation RS for the first time as a model designation in 1974. ŠKODA 180 RS and 200 RS racing cars are considered to be the original RS cars. The reason for the development was a desire to compete in the more prestigious and higher-volume racing classes, as well as challenge internationally successful brands on the race tracks.

After just half a year’s preparation, in the spring of 1974, ŠKODA launched three super sports models (one 180 RS, and two 200 RSs), which ran in an official motorsport competition for the first time in June of the same year, then known as the ŠKODA Rally. “The ŠKODA 180 RS and 200 RS models represented the brand’s entry into top-class rallying,” says Michal Velebný, Restoration Workshop Manager at the ŠKODA Museum.

This fireball’s bonnet concealed a 120 kW (163 PS) two-litre engine with an overhead camshaft. The top speed of the ŠKODA 200 RS was 210 km/h. In addition to its acceleration power and high top speed, the vehicle impressed with its outstanding handling, favoured by a newly developed trailing arm rear axle. The transmission came from Porsche.

ŠKODA 130 RS – a racing legend is born

Positive experiences with the 200 RS quickly decided those in positions of responsibility to build a vehicle for general motorsport. Just one year later, the ŠKODA 130 RS drove into the international racing limelight ready for the 1975 season. This was the start of six great years of motor racing.

The ŠKODA 130 RS became one of the most successful racing cars of its time and was a powerful competitor in rallies and races until the beginning of the 1980s. Many motorsport fans are familiar with the 130 RS, also referring to it as the ‘Porsche of the East’. The successes of the 130 RS have shaped ŠKODA’s great reputation in motorsports to date.

The 130 RS celebrated its greatest triumphs with a double victory in the 1977 Monte Carlo Rally in the up to 1,300 cm3 cylinder capacity category and a victory in the European Touring Car Championship of 1981. Even in major Czech competitions, such as the Barum Rally, the Bohemia Rally or the Sumava Rally, the vehicle achieved many victories.

The rear-wheel drive racing car was powered by a 103 kW (140 PS) 1.3 litre four-cylinder engine. The racing configuration was successful among other things due to Weber carburettors for fuel/air mixing, an eight-port cylinder head and dry-sump lubrication. The racer, around four metres long, 1.72 metres wide and just 1.34 metres high, achieved a top speed of 220 km/h.

When production of the 130 RS came to an end in 1981, the RS era at ŠKODA was interrupted for almost 20 years.

RS goes into standard production – ŠKODA Octavia RS (2000-2005)

At the turn of the millennium, ŠKODA sets again a clear signal in terms of production sports cars, with a clear reference to the RS era. In 2000, the manufacturer launched the ŠKODA Octavia RS. Four years before, the new Octavia had celebrated its debut – the first model from the brand to be developed from scratch after the fall of the Iron Curtain and Volkswagen’s association with the Czech manufacturer. Now the new ŠKODA best seller was the first to have its own RS version as a consumer model – another homage to the tradition of the ŠKODA 180/200 RS, and in particular the successes of the ŠKODA 130 RS. The new era RS model proved to have immediate consumer appeal. A more powerful engine, outstanding handling and sporting charisma, combined with all the advantages of a compact family car – an irresistible combination.

The vehicle had a 1.8 litre four-cylinder turbo engine with 132 kW (180 PS). The gear system was a manual five-speed transmission. The Octavia RS accelerated from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.9 seconds; peak speed was 235 km/h. The first generation Octavia RS was produced from 2000 to 2005.

In 2001 a racy Octavia RS special model attracted much attention. On the occasion of the first centenary of ŠKODA Motorsport, the brand launched a limited-edition of 100 pieces of ŠKODA Octavia RS WRC Edition.

Following on from the ŠKODA Octavia WRC rally car, which had competed in the World Rally Championship (WRC) since 1998, ŠKODA trimmed its Octavia RS WRC with some sporty design features. These included, among other things, 17-inch aluminium wheels and xenon headlamps. The vehicle was also fitted with ESC as standard.

The first generation ŠKODA Fabia RS (2003-2007)

In 2003 the manufacturer extended its RS range with a second model and gave starter’s orders to the sportily designed small car ŠKODA Fabia RS.

The first sporty hatchback model of the brand was powered by a 1.9 litre diesel turbo engine with 96 kW (130 PS) and a six-speed transmission. The vehicle accelerated from 0 to 100 km/h in 9.6 seconds and was capable of a top speed of 204 km/h. The first generation ŠKODA Fabia RS came off the production line between 2003 and 2007.

The second generation ŠKODA Octavia RS (2005-2013)

A new ŠKODA Octavia RS followed in 2005 with the second generation ŠKODA Octavia. The second generation sports car was manufactured up to 2013. In addition to the saloon, the RS version was also available for the ŠKODA Octavia Combi.

In addition, ŠKODA fitted the new ŠKODA Octavia RS with two engine versions. The customer had the choice between a two-litre petrol turbo engine with 147 kW (200 PS) and a two-litre diesel turbo with 125 kW (170 PS). Both engines could be combined with manual six-speed transmission or for the first time also with automatic six-speed DSG transmission.

The second generation ŠKODA Octavia RS was impressive with once again significantly improved acceleration and speed values. The petrol engine accelerated from 0 to 100 km/h in just 7.2 seconds (up to then it had been 7.9 seconds), and achieved a top speed of 240 km/h.

The second generation ŠKODA Fabia RS (since 2010)

At the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, ŠKODA launched the new second generation ŠKODA Fabia RS. For the first time since then, the compact sports car has been available as a hatchback or as an estate.

A small car with a powerful engine: the Fabia has an automatic seven-speed DSG gearbox fitted as standard. Its twin turbocharged 1.4 TSI petrol engine 132 kW (180 PS) accelerates the car from 0 to 100 km/h in just 7.3 seconds. Its top speed is 224 km/h.

Current generation ŠKODA Octavia RS: The fastest Octavia in series production

The third generation of the ŠKODA Octavia RS continues to set new standards among cars tuned for sporty driving. Customers may choose from either liftback or estate body styles in combination with an advanced 2.0 TSI petrol engine with an output of 162 kW or a 2.0 TDI (135kW) turbocharged diesel unit utilising state-of-the-art technologies to achieve an excellent combination of fuel consumption and on-road dynamics. The petrol version of the ŠKODA Octavia RS reaches a top speed of 248 km/h, which rightly gives it the title of the fastest-ever series production model in the ŠKODA Octavia range.