THE Skoda Octavia vRS is the motoring equivalent of blowing away the cobwebs on a crisp and breezy day … refreshing and invigorating.Its lusty performance and responsive, agile handling are welcome antidotes to life’s routine – a behind-the-wheel breath of fresh air.From those two paragraphs you have probably gathered that I’m a big fan of the Czech Republic manufacturer’s high performance model.
It’s a car I have known for the past ten years, driving previous versions and lapping up their pace and control, all wrapped up in a classic body style. So, would I like the latest model, the third generation? Would it live up to or exceed memories of previous weeks in earlier incarnations of the vRS?
Flush Magazine spent seven days in the 2.0 TSI 220bhp petrol-engined version – there’s also a 184bhp diesel unit – taking in a mix of motoring, from tootling around town to tackling twisty country lanes and hauling along the motorway. The interior is characterised by a black theme, with integrated ambient lighting for the internal door handles, newly developed vRS-design sports seats and a sporty three-spoke steering wheel with perforated leather trim to match the gear stick and handbrake coverings.
Sill plates and pedals are made of stainless steel, and the instrument panel has a unique vRS design. Steering wheel, gear stick, door sill panels, seats and floor mats all bear the sporty logo. The vRS (apparently it stands for Victory Racing Sport) proved an engaging drive throughout – without every feeling lairy – delivering sharp handling and grippy cornering aided by sports suspension. The six speed manual gearbox is smooth and well-mated to the turbo-charged engine.
Features include, Bluetooth, DAB radio, daytime running lights, driver alert system for fatigue detection, dual zone air conditioning with humidity sensor and control, lane assistant (to keep you on the straight and narrow), LED rear lights, intelligent light assistant (high beam control), auto stop/start, touch-screen info centre with posh sat nav, CD player and proximity sensor and electric sunroof.But there’s practicality alongside the pace in the saloon-shaped five-door hatchback, with a boot the size of the Albert Hall (590 litres, extendable to 1,580 litres) and bags of legroom all round.Added to that, there is a host of clever features, such as double-sided boot flooring (with one side rubber for wet kit and soggy Labradors) an ice scraper in the fuel cap and a high-vis jacket under the driver’s seat. The backrest of the rear seat can be folded 60/40.
There are also litter containers, multimedia holders and a number of storage compartments, holders and hooks. The estate version of the vRS has an optional adjustable boot floor. A jacket shelf under the boot cover is new in the estate and the roller cover for the load area can be removed and stowed under that floor
Fit and finish is first class throughout, as is the driving experience, enhanced by a ‘vRS button’ which performance-tweaks the engine, suspension and even exhaust note. This thinking man’s hot hatch is a joy to drive, perhaps something of a wolf in sheep’s clothing with sparkling performance lying beneath those conservative lines.
Engine: 2.0TSI 220bhp; Transmission: 6spd manual;
Performance: 0-62 mph, 6.9 secs, top speed, 152mph;
Fuel: 44mpg (combined);
Emissions: 149 g/km;
Price: £25,145 (OTR).