Pretty much every BFYB in history has thrown up one or two cars that, on the basis of the spec sheet, look like good prospects. And then we put them to the BFYB sword only to discover that they somehow fall a bit short.
This year, the Skoda Octavia RS230 would be one of those cars. But here’s the redress: That’s only because the things that make it a great road car also make it a less than totally stellar BFYB contender.
Which, of course, means that if you want a car for the real world, the RS230 has the elements to make a damn fine choice. But under the harsh terms and conditions of Mistress BFYB, those same elements play against it. That’s it, plain and simple. So where do the cross-purposes surface?
Well, let’s start with the chassis control. Clearly, the Skoda is sprung in a way that won’t offend its occupants out in Pothole County. And fair enough, but it does mean that it lacks that last little bit of accuracy when you start hoking it about a racetrack.
That’s reflected in the steering responses, too, and the car that felt so sharp and accurate on the road feels a tiny bit vague in faster corners. A quick squiz at its apex speeds at Winton confirms that much. Same goes for the speed potential of the RS230.
At road pace it feels totally fit and brisk, but when you start stretching it out on the dragstrip, it can start to feel a little strangled up top. And what you thought were rippling on-road muscles turn out to be a bit weedy and a bit long in the gearing once you’re on the noisy side of the pit wall.
The other bit of this particular puzzle is that the SS Ute dominated the speed-trial element this year. It did it in such a way that everything else felt a bit soft. So, even though the Skoda was second fastest through the 400-metre traps, on a corrected BFYB score, it was still back in the pack. And finally, there are those amazing looking front seats.
On the road, they’re bliss, but when centrifugal forces begin acting on the indigestible object formerly known as lunch, the support simply vanishes. The other element to play against the Skoda was the judges’ individual scoring.
In fact, the judges left it pretty high and dry with not a lot of love for its track smarts, despite everybody who drove it on the road falling for the thing. That’s life. That’s BFYB.
Engine: 1984cc inline-four, DOHC, 16v, turbo
Power: 169kW @ 4700-6200rpm
Torque: 350Nm @ 1500-4600rpm
0-100km/h: 6.83sec (3rd)
0-400m: 14.98sec @ 158.17km/h (3rd)
Lap Time: 1:42.4sec (2nd)
Bang Index: 99.4
Bucks Index: 81.7
BFYB Index: 92.3
WARREN LUFF SAYS
“Should be able to go a lot faster than what it actually did. Probably the biggest disappointment is not being able to turn the ESP all the way off. Through the tighter sections it really does limit the drive off the corner."
For everyday road driving it’s a good safety net so you don’t make a big mistake. There are lots of things the car does well. It rides the kerbs nicely, and the nice engine’s geared well, it leaves you wanting a little bit more out of it."
"You think it’s going to be a little bit better than what it is.”
David Morley - 8th: “Thinking person’s hottie. I’ll have mine in a wagon, thanks”
Dylan Campbell - 6th: “Feels happiest at eight-tenths; why it’s great on road but not on track”
Louis Cordony - 6th: “Punchy, grippy package only lacking a little killer instinct”
Tim Robson - 7th: “I’m a big fan of the RS, but the race track is not its natural home"
Want more? Check out the rest of 2017 Bang For Your Bucks