First Drive: Skoda Octavia vRS

First Drive: Skoda Octavia vRS

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2013 Skoda Octavia vRS

SKODA’S second generation Octavia has been something of a quiet success story. A little bigger and more refined than the company’s first example, it is routinely spoken of in glowing terms in the same breath as more expensive cars from traditional premium manufacturers.

This third generation Octavia is, again, a little bigger and more refined than the one it replaces. And just like before, there’s also a stealthy-looking quick Octavia complete with vRS badge.

With attitudes towards diesel-powered performance cars having changed some time ago, such a formula is no longer a novelty. However, as considerable progress has been made combining horsepower with low emissions and fuel consumption, there’s an element of being able to have your cake and eat it with this Octavia vRS.

Consider these facts: a combined economy figure of 61.4mpg and a modest C02 rating of 119g/km. This combination alone should be enough to get company car user choosers jumping up and down at the prospect of getting into an upmarket performance hatchback.

But that’s not all, as this frugal and tax-friendly Octavia also has a fun side. How does 184 horsepower, a zero to 62mph sprint time of 8.2 seconds and a top speed of 132mph sound?

And remember, we’re talking about a diesel Skoda here. The Octavia vRS has always been something that, for most buyers, has existed under the radar but this latest version promises discretion and a decent turn of speed for a fraction of the price of some so-called premium alternatives. For business users, the Octavia vRS promises a low tax, low outlay ownership proposition – enough to have the premium brands losing a little sleep.

Certainly, the Octavia’s cabin – be it regular or vRS flavour – does much to rival that of more expensive alternatives. And, being an Octavia, there’s enough room fore and aft to put much larger cars to shame. Move to the rear and it’s the same story in the Octavia’s boot. The hatchback format allows easy access, while folding the rear seats transforms the car into a convincing holdall.

Of course, if you want the full load-lugger experience you’ve got to go for the Octavia estate. Boasting 610 and 1,740 litres of space with the rear seats up and down respectively it’s capable of swallowing most things whole. And when sensibly loaded there’s little difference in the way to behaves relative to the hatch, ensuring keen drivers don’t have to compromise thrills for the realities of everyday motoring.

Just like with the previous model, only more so, are the things that make the Octavia vRS special: sorted handling in the wet as well as the dry, an accomplished ride over even the roughest of urban roads, diesel refinement and rapid turn of speed. And it’s these attributes which make the oil-burning Octavia vRS something of a hidden gem in the world of performance driving.

Essentially if you want a discreet, quick, well-equipped family car that won’t cost a fortune to run, this is what you should be driving. The same is true if you’ve got a free reign over the company car scheme. With a Benefit in Kind-friendly C02 rating and compact hatch levels of economy, what’s not to like?

Yes the petrol vRS model is a little more lively, thanks to its 220 horsepower turbo motor and a 6.9 second zero to 62mph sprint time. However, you do have to work the engine that bit harder to achieve a similar pace to the diesel model. Granted, the Octavia’s six-speed manual gearbox is a good one, and there’s the option of a slick DSG alternative for both variants, but there’s no denying that the torquey diesel’s character better suits the Octavia’s understated personality.

Thankfully there’s nothing understated about the car’s standard specification. Packing DAB radio, Bluetooth, big alloy wheels, xenon headlights, tyre pressure monitor, sports suspension, supportive sports seats and an alphabet soup of traction and stability electronics, the big car feel extends beyond the Octavia’s physical size and into its generously equipped cabin.

Offering one of the best bang to buck ratios in the market, Skoda’s Octavia vRS delivers accessible performance for the keen driver in spades, while ensuring the value for money theme is ever present in the form of a plush, high class cabin and a long list of standard kit.


Model: Skoda Octavia vRS vRS 2.0 TDI CR 5dr, from £23,260 on the road.Engine: 2.0-litre diesel unit developing 184bhp.Transmission: 6-speed manual transmission as standard, driving the front wheels.Performance: Maximum speed 119mph, 0-62mph 8.2 seconds.Economy: 61.4mpg.CO2 Rating: 119g/km.


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