Fan of the fabulously engined Fabia vRS, Lisa Curtiss tries out the brand new diesel vRS Octavia to see if this Skoda really does sizzle as much as they say!
Surely by now, the days are gone when you would only buy a Skoda if you wanted a new car and couldn’t afford another make. The company has gone from strength to strength, excelling at customer service, produces some extremely competitively priced, full featured, cracking cars and haswon more than a few awards along the way.
If you’re still harbouring some brand snobbery and consider a Skoda a poor relation, take a few for a spin. I’m sure you’d be in for a pleasant surprise. And so to, the vRS. The Fabia flew and the Octavia, whilst disguised as a family/fleet car, is still a sneakily, punchy pleasure to drive. And this isn’t just a ‘normal’ Octavia with a sport badge, as a real host of engineering changes, built upon lessons learned from Skoda’sWorld Rally Championships, have been made to the car to ensure that this vRS really delivers.
The rear section of the body has been braced with special reinforcements to increase torsional strength, while the suspension has been lowered by 12mm all round and features modified shock absorbers and springs. And, to reign in the extra power, larger, ventilated brake discs are fitted as standard, together with a host of electronic safety systems including EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution), ASR traction control and of course, ABS (Anti-lockBraking System), ESP and TPM. Taking us swiftly on to the all important engine… The 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine producing 170bhp, offers 350lb ft of torque from just 1,800rpm, to provide pretty impressive thrust from low revs.
Thanks to piezo injector technology which provides accurate high-pressure fuelling to each cylinder, the diesel-powered vRS is as rewarding to drive as its petrol counterpart. The 0-62mph is just 8.5 seconds (8.6 seconds for the Estate) and top speed is a rather rapid 140mph (Estate 139mph). I found the pulling power in the 60mph + range extremely good, making motorway overtaking a cinch – and life therefore a tad more interesting. All the grunt you need is just ready for the taking without any issues or excuses. The ride is ‘just right’ – I get to keep my fillingswithout the car slopping around. You feel the speed, but it’s smooth all the way. Cornering was neat, tidy and as curb kissing as you could want, gear changes smooth and forgiving for even the most ardent gearbox crunchers amongst us.
Pleasing to the pocket in terms of fuel economy, both the hatch and estate versions of the vRS return a highly respectable 48.7mpg on the combined cycle, which gives it a potential tank range of a stunning 589 miles. Which, when you consider they are true five-seater sport models, is something pretty remarkable and makes a welcome change from being punished heftily at the pumps for performance. The vRS is fully EURO IV compliant and fitted with an advanced diesel particulate filter (DPF) to help reduce exhaust emissions to a minimum. In terms of CO2 output, both the hatch and estate versions produce just 157g/km. The hatch we saw, given the cavernous size of the boot and storage with the seats down, made us wonder why anyone would need the estate version.
Family friendly, both versions can more that adequately carry five adults and their luggage thanks to the huge load compartments – 560 litres for the hatchback and 580 for the estate, increasing to 1,350 and 1,620 with the rear seats folded down. Deceivingly larger than it seems from the outside, good head height and leg room makes the car incredibly practical, just as Skoda claims. A looker? Well, it’s not bad. Not the most stylish sports saloon out there, but certainly far from the worst. With deeper bumpers, body-coloured side strips and new 17 inch ‘Zenith’ alloy wheels, the vRS does convey an air of sportiness. The unique vRS touches such as red brake calipers and vRS badging on the tailgate give clues to the car’s sporty nature. Inside it’s functional but fresh.
No gimmicks or eyepopping gizmos here, just everything to hand and in the ‘right’ place. Additions include aluminium-effect trim on the instrument panel and doors, black roof lining and a leather gear knob. More importantly probably, are the new silver and black sports seats which provide good support even on long haul journeys. Creature comforts such as climate control, CD player and alloy wheels are fitted as standard as is a host of safety equipment including ESP and traction control, driver, passenger and side airbags. The Octavia 2.0 TDI PD vRS costs £18,370 (OTR) for the hatch version and £19,220 (OTR) for the estate. Just £845 over the 2.0 TFSI petrol version. Family or fleet, this car’s a star. Having lived with it for a while, carrying it out all sorts of kiddie, shopping, pet, garden, motorway and work duties, I can’t really fault it. Performance, practicality and value Skoda says. I have to agree.
On sale: Now // £18,370 hatch
- Price: £18,370
- Engine: 1,968 4-cyl turbo diesel
- Max Power: 170PS at 4,200rpm
- Max Torque: 350lb ft at 1,800rpm
- Combined Consumption:48.7mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 157g/km (D)
- 0-62mph: 8.5secs
- Max speed: 140mph
Standard Diesel vRS:
Deep bumpers with integrated front air intake/Rear boot or tailgate spoiler/17″ alloy wheels with Škoda red brake calipers/Chromed dual exhaust/Lowered suspension/Tuned exhaust/Projector halogen lamps/Cat’s eye reflectors in rear bumper/vRS badging/Silver and black sports seats/Three-spoke leatherwrapped steering wheel and gearknob/Aluminium effect trim on instrument panel and doors, black rooflining/ESP traction control, plus ABS,MBA, MSR and ASR/Tyre pressure monitor (TPM)/Six-CD autochanger/Remote central locking/Climatic air conditioning/Driver and passenger front and side airbags/Octavia’s folding luggage hooks
Curtain airbags £280/Electric sunroof £665
18″ alloy wheels £450/Satellite navigation £1,350
Punchy performance, huge amount of storage space, impressive fuel economy for such a quick machine
Could be fresher / sleeker on the exterior design front. Traditional curves don’t really reflect its impressive sports performance