Skoda’s RS badge wins buyers’ hearts for good reason
Can you help me love the Skoda Octavia RS 245? How reliable is it compared to a Toyota or Mazda? I know Skoda's part of the VW Group and I'm concerned about their past transmission problems.
Milton Halepis, via email
I'm a huge fan of the Octavia RS and it comes in sedan and wagon versions. Certainly, Skoda's new five-year warranty should alleviate fears. More reliable than the Japanese? Only time will tell. Skoda's often near the top of customer surveys in the UK where the brand is far more established and popular than here. Concern about the VW Group's DSG transmission is fair enough but there's a simple solution - buy the manual and you'll enjoy the RS 245 even more.
Can you please tell me about the quality of fuels sold by independent outlets? They're always cheaper but are they the same quality as the big name outlets?
Peter Murphy, email
Tricky one this and there's no point asking retailers as they'll tell you their fuel is best. Anecdotally, a good way to ensure you're getting quality, non-contaminated fuel is to go to a servo with a high turnover, such as highway stations, as the storage tanks should be well sealed (you don't want water/moisture contamination) and refilled with fresher fuel more often. Aussie fuel is low quality compared to most developed countries due to its high sulphur parts per million (ppm). Premium fuel is more expensive but has one-third the allowable sulphur content of regular fuel, as well as more detergents and additives. I treat my race car to BP Ultimate as it seems to run better using it than anything else I've used.
My 2016 Subaru Outback has had its diesel particulate filter warning light on three times in the past 18 months. It's cost me $73 at my Subaru dealer each time to have the problem rectified. They say the light comes on if the car's not being driven for long periods of time. I drive my car nearly every day for about 50km. Is this problem common?
Warren Highland, via email
Sounds frustrating. Subaru Australia advises that your Outback can get a program update now, which the company says you've been told too, and this should help alleviate concerns. The maker also says you weren't charged for two instances of oil dilution or for a reset to the oil dilution sensor on your third visit.
Re not buying a vehicle with a diesel particulate filter. These are now compulsory on all new diesel vehicles. Diesels aren't suited for short trips so anyone with a diesel car needs to be doing regular longer journeys to keep the filter clean.
Steve Atkin, email
Good point, Steve. I've heard of many cases of filters needing replacement at huge cost. Many buyers had no idea their diesel car wasn't designed to sit in traffic or to be used only on short trips. Car sales people should be making this clear.
ORDER BOOK OF GENESIS
I've just retired and want a luxury car. I've looked at the Volvo S90, Jaguar XF and Mercedes E-Class but, having seen overseas reviews, it seems the Genesis may suit me as I'm not a brand snob. Could you shed some light on when Genesis will arrive in Australia?
Anton Candir, email
Genesis spokesman Bill Thomas expects the new stand-alone Genesis brand to have its mid-size G70 and exec barge G80 luxury models on sale by September or October, a few months later than original expected. In terms of specification, Thomas says the G70 will have two engine options, 3.3-litre twin-turbo and 2.0-litre turbo (same as the Kia Stinger), there will be three grades of trim and the price will be from the mid-$50K mark.
BRAKE FOR A COMMERCIAL
Any Toyota Prius or Camry Hybrid taxi (or private) owner will tell you, due to the regenerative braking in our cars, the hydraulic brakes are used only about a third of the time, so pads and discs last a lot longer. It's normal for us to get 200,000km-plus from a set of brake pads.
John Lapworth, Prius Club of Qld, email
Good selling point for these hybrid cars, alongside their city fuel economy. A replacement battery, if required, is about $3000 though. We've been inundated with tales of long brake life. John Birbeck got 285,000km on the original pads in his Chrysler 300C (built in Austria). Among the standouts are commercial vehicles: Paul Barry's Toyota HiAce work vans, 265,000km and 295,000km; and Greg Tomamichel's 2009 Mitsubishi Triton, 270,000km.
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