It’s an expensive Skoda but it takes value to a new level
Skoda isn’t exactly the first name that springs to mind if you’re thinking about performance cars. There are other companies within the VW Group that would tick that box, like Audi or Porsche or Lamborghini. And the performance vRS sub-brand at Skoda has been largely ignored, with the Fabia version gone and a planned Superb version shelved. Which leaves us with this, the Octavia vRS.
Skoda has at least paid some attention to the hot hatchback. The previous, limited-edition vRS 230 has now been replaced by a full production run vehicle, the vRS 245. Not only will it be more powerful, and not only will there be more of them, but there will also be an estate version as well.
But for now we’re in the hatchback, with an enhanced version of the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. Power is up from 227bhp to 242bhp and torque is similarly up from 258lb/ft to 273lb/ft. As you can see, those aren’t massive increases, and they’re good for just a tenth off the 0-62mph time, which is now 6.6 seconds.
Skoda Octavia vRS 245 DSG
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo, petrol;
Kerb weight: 1390kg
Gearbox: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic;
Top speed: 155mph
CO2/tax band: 146g/km
It’s not totally energetic at low revs but it builds hard and revs freely, so it’ll bring a smile to your face. Even if there are a lot of competitors out there now who are pushing 300bhp for similar money.
A new addition which helps smooth that power is a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch auto transmission. With one more cog than previously, it not only helps keep things boiling sweetly, it also improves fuel efficiency, with a claimed 44.1mpg. And, naturally, it makes cruising along even more of a relaxing affair.
And when you’re cruising you’ll appreciate all the solid Skoda qualities, like a cavernous and comfortable cabin, now with a top infotainment system which gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto mirroring, and a sense of well-built confidence.
The ride is slightly on the firm side, but if you keep the standard adaptive dampers in Comfort mode you will enjoy that eponymous state. And when it comes to the corners you’ll really appreciate the electronic differential on the front.
The e-diff really does a good job, helping get the power down, helping keep the front end tied to its line through the corner. It will understeer eventually, but you have to be pushing really hard to provoke it. The body control is excellent although slightly more responsive steering would be a boon.
The drive modes, from Eco to Sport, tighten everything from throttle to gearshifts as you move up the modes, to the extent that, in Sport, it goes and sounds like a very sporty car indeed. The exhaust sounds quite lairy if a touch artificial, reminding you that you’re in a hot hatch, not just a big and comfy Skoda.
Which is clever, because you’re in a big and comfy Skoda Octavia, with nothing lost to make it a more sporting proposition. The garnishes to the exterior add just the right hint of power without overclaiming, and the whole package is well balanced while being endlessly practical and spacious as always.
Is it worth the £2500 it costs over a standard vRS? It’s still cheaper than a Golf GTI. We’d say so, although we might go for the manual gearbox for yet more driver involvement.