£24,460 - £27,970 Price range
44 - 64 MPG
In the 15 years since Skoda was acquired by the Volkswagen Group a lot has changed. Gone is the raft of Skoda jokes – the best of which were the cars themselves of course – and in its place a reliable, German-backed, manufacturer with a growing pedigree.
So what of the Skoda Octavia vRS? Well, for a start, the Octavia has won awards left, right and centre. So we know that it will tick a lot of boxes as a family runaround, with plenty of space for the kids and the shopping. It has a host of Golf GTI parts including its petrol engine (there is also a diesel option) and running gear, so that should cover the excitement segment and it looks pretty smart too – check out colour guide to have a look at the various shades available.
Although not too bold with its styling, Skoda has nodded to the vRS’s 200hp-plus status with angular twin-exhausts, 18-inch wheels, a smattering of vRS badges, racy looking callipers and a honeycomb lower grille. The other key styling tweak is the addition of a subtle rear spoiler and a rear diffuser. Other than that things are fairly run-of-the-mill – though very smart with it.
On the diesel, though it’s a shame to say, the second of the twin-exhausts is a dummy, purely there for aesthetics. While this isn’t the end of the world, we’re sure potential buyers of the vRS diesel would rather it was functional.
For those looking to tip the balance towards the sensible purchase, the Octavia vRS’s 2.0-litre diesel not only performs well but also offers up to 61.4 mpg, making it remarkably economical. The diesel model is also offered with optional four-wheel drive.
The Skoda Octavia vRS has some fairly stiff competition from within the ranks of the Volkswagen Group. Not least the Golf GTI, which offers a more nimble sporty driving experience than the vRS but has far less luggage space. The SEAT Leon Cupra and the Ford Focus ST also fill a similar space in the market, with the vRS sitting sandwiched between the two with regard to mpg scores. Again, though, the Skoda trumps the competition on space.
The Skoda Octavia vRS is for the driver who wants a mix of practicality and speed, but doesn’t want the price tag and potential impracticalities of other Volkswagen Group offerings.
Cheapest to buy: 2.0 TSI 220 manual
Cheapest to run: 2.0 TDI 184 manual
Fastest model: 2.0 TSI 230 manual
Most popular model: 2.0 TSI 220 manual
The Skoda Octavia vRS doesn’t get what would be called the ‘full-works’ on the interior, rather, it gets a smattering of racy apparel. The most noteworthy feature is the pair of front bucket seats. With vRS emblazoned on each and body hugging proportions, they’re quite a sight to behold. However, once seated, the driver and passenger look out over a fairly normal setting. Granted the pedals are adorned with aluminium, the vRS logo is to be found on a number of items and the underside of the wheel is squared-off but that’s the lot really.
On the upside, those front seats will make most drivers feel pretty special; they’re both functional and stylish, and keep you in place during harder cornering.
Skoda Octavia vRS passenger space
The standard Octavia is a clear leader in its class when it comes to passenger space, and the vRS loses none of that practicality. Rear passengers get more legroom than in the Golf GTI or the SEAT Leon Cupra, and decent amounts of headroom. The rear doors open usefully wide, making it easy to get in and out and also a doddle to put child seats in to either of the two Isofix mounting points on the rear seats.
Skoda Octavia vRS boot space
The Octavia vRS is streets ahead of its competition when it comes to luggage space. With 590 litres in the boot and a total of 1,580 litres with the rear seats folded down, it leaves the likes of the Golf and the Leon standing, and comes close to the Ford Mondeo. The rear seats fold easily, though unfortunately don’t quite leave a flat surface.
Well, it’s still not a Golf GTI – we’ve established that. Then again though, it is a good deal cheaper than its beloved cousin. It also offers significantly more room inside and actually performs really well on the road.
Due to its extra width the car does lack some of the agility of other cars built using the same platform but the addition of XDS+ does help in the twisty bits. XDS+ is an electronic differential lock that applies the brakes to the inside wheels in fast corners to stop the car running wide.
The Octavia vRS is available with either a 2.0-litre turbo diesel or a 2.0-litre turbo petrol, both with either a manual or DSG gearbox. The DSG box allows for paddle shift or automatic mode, with the paddle shift offering sharp, snappy gear changes that would have been reserved for top of the range Porsches just a few short years ago. Not only is it fun to play with but the option to slip over into auto mode is sure to make the commute that bit easier. Choose the DSG, however, and you’ll lower the car’s mpg and raise the 0-62 mph time slightly.
For those who want to squeeze the best out of the vRS there is a selection of driving modes: ‘sport’ tightens everything up and readies the car for a slight thrashing, while the eco-mode optimises everything for maximum fuel economy. If you have the inclination there is also the option to use ‘individual’ settings, allowing you to set a range of performance-related parameters to your own liking.
With wide, low-profile tyres, features such as XDS+ and a variable ratio steering rack the Octavia vRS certainly can corner and with up to 217hp available it’s not short of oomph either, however, some may find that the ride is a little firm for the longer commute.
The only area where testers felt slightly let-down was on long journeys, during which reverberation could be heard coming from the doors. This began to wear a little after a time; it’s clear that there is slightly less in the way of soundproofing than there is in the favoured Golf.
It’s also worth noting that upgrading to the 19-inch wheels is not recommended by most buyers – they make the ride far too firm. They do look great, mind you.
Skoda Octavia vRS 4×4
In 2015 Skoda added a four-wheel-drive option to the diesel Octavia vRS, thus making it the most affordable 4×4 performance diesel car. Despite a price increase of around £1,500 compared to an equivalent front-wheel drive version, the 4×4 vRS is still cheaper to buy than its main rivals and none of them offer four-wheel drive.
Adding a 4×4 system to an already good car only improves it. The benefits will be most evident in a particularly bad British winter where the traction and stability will give you extra peace of mind.
Even in dry conditions the added grip lets you apply power earlier and get out of corners quicker, while the 0-62mph time is down by half a second to 7.6 seconds. The only drawbacks of the four-wheel drive upgrade are worse fuel economy (57mpg vs 60mpg) and a 2mph slower top speed at 142mph. Hardly a deal-breaker.
Both of the engines available to those wanting to own the Octavia vRS can be found elsewhere in the Volkswagen Group, most prominently, of course, in the Golf GTI and GTD. The Octavia gives you the chance to get your hands on these two great engines for far less money than in the Golf, however.
Skoda Octavia vRS petrol engines
The petrol option is a 2.0-litre turbocharged unit that produces an impressive 217hp, dashes from 0 to 62mph in 6.8 seconds, has a reported top speed of 154 mph and offers a more-than-passable 46 mpg. The engine has a great delivery of power right through the rev-range and the turbo kicks in nice and early, making the power quite manageable.
This really is the option to take if you are wanting to get your hands on the fastest Octavia out there and are not engaged in a long petrol-guzzling commute. It’s lively and exciting at high-speeds and nice and quiet around town.
Skoda Octavia vRS diesel engines
For buyers with some miles to cover the options are to spend significant amounts of your wage on the petrol or take the slight hit on horsepower and go diesel.
The 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine in the vRS produces 184hp and has a top speed of 144mph.
The headline figures are good but the real news is that the diesel option can manage 61mpg, meaning this version of the vRS is hugely practical as an everyday commuter vehicle.
Another benefit of the diesel option is the ultra-low 119g/km CO2 emissions. Granted, there are many cars out there that offer far lower, however, not so many of those offer a 0-62 time of just over 8 seconds.
The only other big question once you have chosen between the practical diesel and the more exciting petrol is whether to take the DSG option or not. Our advice? Take the DSG with the diesel and the manual with the petrol.
Octavia vRS 230
In 2015 Skoda added a more powerful version to the vRS range, called the Octavia vRS 230. What is essentially a performance pack adds a new exhaust, larger brakes, 10hp and shaves a tenth of a second off the 0-62 mph figure. Its limited-slip differential makes the car even quicker in the corners. The pack will set buyers back £2,520, but is money well-spent if you are an enthusiast. The Octavia 230 also gets leather sports seats, a trip computer that can measure lap times, park assist as well as sat-nav. The sexy 19-inch wheels are also included in the pack.
The Octavia earned the full five stars when it was tested by Euro NCAP, so it’s a safe place for you and your family.
The car comes with seven airbags as standard and a system that jams the brakes on after a crash to prevent you spinning off to have more crashes.. Electronic stability control ensures the car stays on the road and ABS brakes help avoid skidding under heavy braking.
Exclusive to the vRS are a set of uprated brakes and of course those wider low-profile tyres, which improve grip over the standard vRS, while lane assist keeps you on the right track on the motorway. In the back two Isofix fitments keep children secure and safe from harm.
As the pedigree of Skoda continues to grow, so does the stock in the badge and while it is still Volkswagen Group’s entry offering, it is no-longer the ugly runt it once was.
With the above in mind it’s no wonder the price of a Skoda has crept up over the past few years. Largely, though, quality has kept pace. Inside and out the car feels sturdy and solid.
The standard inclusion of a DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity in a car of this price is worth noting, as are the cruise-control and steering wheel controls. Outside the standard 18-inch alloy wheels add style.
As for what is under the bonnet, well, how can you argue with the Golf GTI engine? It’s fast, it’s full-bodied, it provides power across the rev-range and it is surely good for more miles than most will ever see.
The Octavia is offered with a range of extended warranty including a five-year/100,000-mile option for £515 – the standard package covers the car for three years/60,000 miles.
All told, there are two ways to look at the Skoda Octavia vRS: Either it still sits slightly in the shadow of its sibling the Golf, or it takes the best of the Golf, but adds a lot of extra legroom and boot space for less money money.
The vRS offers a different balance for the wallet, for efficiency and for space. It’s a balance that will be right for an awful lot of people.