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MotorBar - New Car Reviews
Skoda Octavia Estate vRS 2.0 TDI 184PS 4x4 DSG

Click to view picture gallery“It wasnt that long ago when family
  responsibilities automatically exiled
  family drivers from the joys of
  motoring, consigning ardent wheel-
  smiths to the boredom of driving
  a placid people-carrier
...”


THESE DAYS such unfair compromises are long gone thanks to family cars such as Skoda's Octavia vRS estate, put on this Earth to save keen drivers from the never-ending duties that are part and parcel of family life.

Not only does the Octavia wagon offer oodles of room for up to five family members (plus the mutt), it also comes with one of the largest luggage corrals in its class. And in 184PS vRS guise it's not short of performance: 136mph and 0-60mph in 7.8 seconds with all-wheel drive, all-weather traction and good economy.

This latest Octavia is fronted by the range's twin-light LED headlamp arrangement featuring crystalline detailing and a purposeful vertically-slatted and belligerently black grille that, along with the vRS bodykit, jazzes up 'the look' no end. The bonnet is of a crisply profiled clamshell design while clean flanks emphasise meticulously flat-cut wheelarches packed out with gloss black 19-inch alloys. In your face? Actually no, because it's all nicely laced with subtlety.

The vRS’s 2.0-litre
turbodiesel serves up a
tasty mix of power
and torque (181bhp with
a brawny 280lb ft on tap from 1,750rpm)
so there’s no
shortage of pulling power
— the benchmark
0-60mph is zapped in a
robust and unruffled 7.8
seconds and top speed
is 136mph...”
Power choices will satisfy both diesel and petrol fans but this past week it's the 181bhp (184PS) turbodiesel that we've been driving. This four-pot 2.0-litre unit serves up a tasty mix of power and torque (with a brawny 280lb ft on tap from 1,750rpm) so there's no shortage of pulling power — the benchmark 0-60mph is zapped in a robust and unruffled 7.8 seconds.

And the 2.0-litre TDI makes plenty of sense when sweetened by the six-speed DSG autobox. Tapping the selector lever back a tad to toggle from Drive to Sport mode unleashes willing extra muscle with a satisfying getting-you-there-on-time vibe that's perfect when pressing on along testing B-roads or for a spurt of safe overtaking.

Should you want to go fully 'hands on' with the gear shifting then nudge the lever to the left to engage Manual mode, after which a pull on the paddles will finger-walk you up or down the ratios whenever it suits. Left to its own devices the DSG 'box reveals an easygoing nature, especially on traffic saturated roads.

Despite the 136mph top speed, motorways can be legally cruised with a nonchalant air — just the thing when driving Miss Daisy or indeed your clan. And all while returning a mile-per-gallon figure that will keep you smiling: 46.9 mpg during our hard-driven eight days (the official Combined Cycle figure is a frugal 55.4mpg and less indulgence than we permitted ourselves should certainly see owners regularly enjoying the brighter side of 50mpg). Appreciated too is a tank that should fuel a reliable 650 miles between fill-ups.

In the dry the four-wheel drive makes itself known by the vRS's impressively unblinking and chirp-free pull-aways and then, once on the move, its surefootedness through corners and hairpins; reassuringly, when the blacktop is slick with heavy rain it feels just the same. And neither, in the vRS 4x4, need you fear the curse of the White Witch.

In the dry the four-wheel
drive makes itself
known by the vRS’s
impressively unblinking
and chirp-free
pull-aways and then,
once on the move, its
surefootedness through
corners and hairpins.
Reassuringly, when the
blacktop is slick with
heavy rain it feels
just the same.
And neither, in the vRS
4x4, need you fear
the curse of the
White Witch...”
The estate vRS benefits from a tweaked and lowered (by 15m) suspension that, as you'd expect, feels a tad firmer than that of the standard car, along with an electro-mechanical front locking differential. Press on and you'll quickly appreciate the benefits, including well-managed body control that ensures corners are taken flat, accurate steering with wieldy turn-in, and decent grip.

Further boosting driveability is Driving Mode Selection which allows the driver to choose between four drive settings: Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Individual. For the record, even choosing Comfort mode doesn't handicap the vRS's single-mindedness when hunkered-down and hustling through the twisties. For a family-swallowing estate of this size (4.7-metres nose to tail), it's a real grin-maker.

While it can seriously motor, it's not the kind of road-racer that's a hoot for its driver but hell for the passengers. The vRS's ride, even on 19-inch alloys, is well fettled and designed to handle real-world lumps and bumps with sympathy, and in Comfort mode the ride is pliant and composed — in fact we spent quite a lot of time completing quick A to B runs in Comfort while being stirred but definitely not shaken!

The vRS's cabin will appeal to both its driver and his or her passengers. Driver first: upholstered in plush Alcantara, the electrically-adjustable front sports seats are as supportive and comfortable as they look for the one doing the steering, who also enjoys a fine Supersport multifunction wheel with a perforated leather rim that's great to use.

A first-rate driving position can be set in seconds, plus there's a multiple seat memory recall if you're sharing the driving duties with one a 'significant other'. Usefully, the vRS also comes with three keys so each different driver's key can be programmed with their individual seat position, preferred driving mode and even their personal music selections so all are immediately set the second they climb aboard. Both front occupants, incidentally, enjoy three-stage seat heating.

While it can motor,
it’s not the kind of road-
racer that’s a hoot for its
driver but hell for the
passengers. The vRS’s
ride, even on 19-inch
alloys, is well fettled
and designed to handle
real-world lumps and
bumps with sympathy,
and in Comfort mode
the ride is pliant
and composed...”
The dash layout is appealingly logical with a wide centre stack neatly integrated; top of the stack is a smart 8-inch touchscreen for the infotainment and navigation while beneath it is a two-zone climate control panel with what will please many drivers — rotary control knobs that are easy to use on the move. These same drivers will also be happy to find a trad-style pull-up manual handbrake.

In-cabin storage is family-sized and along with an air-conditioned bin beneath the sliding and height-adjustable centre armrest is a lit, lined and damped glovebox, a tray with a sliding cover, lined 'coin box' in the driver's-side fascia, bottle-holding door bins, dual-usage cupholders, and a drop-down sunglasses case. For convenience you'll also find a compact brolly tucked away beneath the passenger seat.

Fit and finish are spot-on and combined with the Alcantara create a welcoming ambiance that makes any journeys in any conditions agreeably relaxing. And if you really like your sounds, an extra 505 buys you a 10-speaker Canton premium hi-fi. The Amundsen infotainment system is feature-packed with SmartLink+ (Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink) and a WiFi hotspot so all the family can browse the Internet, stream music and send emails on their individual devices.

Screen graphics are crisp and clear and other vital functions include displaying the posted speed limits on the sharply-drawn 3D mapping. Full postcode destination input is fast and foolproof. Other online infotainment services cover weather reports, fuel prices, traffic information, traffic flow on the chosen route in real-time, parking space availability, etc, as well as the option of topographical Google Earth views for the navigation route.

The Octavia estate’s
vast inner space —
more than you’ll find
even in some more expensive cars from the
class above —
  guarantees generous
room for adults using
either the front or the
rear seats. Wide
opening doors ensure
easy access, and for
those choosing to travel
in the rear cabin life
is sweet...”
Additionally, a Care Connect feature provides remote access to your vRS (current parking location displayed on your smartphone; alerts if your car is being moved by a third party in an unauthorised manner — be that too fast, or outside a specified area; fuel level, etc) plus emergency assistance as well as facilitating route planning done away from the car which can then be transferred to the vRS's SatNav. Naturally there's Bluetooth and DAB.

The vRS is well-specced with all you'll need and, in addition to that already mentioned, that includes voice control, powerfolding (on demand and automatically when locking and leaving) heated door mirrors, cruise control, rear parking sensors, ambient cabin lighting (can be set to one of ten different colours), front and rear electric windows (with child safety switch), auto-dimming rearview mirror, privacy glass, and 19-inch alloy wheels.

It also scores five EuroNCAP stars for safety, has a full set of airbags, including one for the driver's knee, as well as the likes of Front Assist emergency braking with a Predictive Pedestrian Protection function, post-collision braking, Lane-Keep Assist, Blind Spot monitoring, Rear Traffic Alert (that when you're reversing monitors passing traffic warning, and if necessary, braking for you, if there's any collision risk), Intelligent Light Assist (orchestrates the full LED adaptive lighting to maximise light intensity for the conditions and automatically dipping to prevent dazzling oncoming traffic), driver fatigue sensor, tyre pressure monitoring, height-adjustable front seatbelts, rain-sensing wipers, LED daytime running lights, cornering front fogs lights, and LED rear lights.

The Octavia estate's vast inner space — more than you'll find even in some more expensive cars from the class above — guarantees generous room for adults using either the front or the rear seats. Wide opening doors ensure easy access, and for those choosing to travel in the rear cabin life is sweet thanks to decent headroom, legroom and foot room. For two adults it's perfect as the wide central armrest can be folded out to provide armchair-like lounging with cupholders easily to hand, air vents in the centre tunnel console, magazine pouches on the front seatbacks, and bottle-holding door pockets. Home from home!

Swing up the tailgate
and there really does
look to be enough room
for a spot of glamping.
At 610
boxy litres
the boot truly is a huge
one and will carry
more than most anything
else for the money.
And it doesn
t end there
because pull the release
levers in the boot and
the 60:40-split rear
seatbacks spring forward
and self-fold to create
a massive 1,740-litre
loadbay
...”
For those not interested in some serious chillaxing, the large windows provide a widescreen view of the passing scenery. Combine all that with the laid-back manner in which the vRS lopes along motorways and it's easy to get why it's one of the few cars where sitting in the back is as coveted as riding shotgun. For the record, when needs must, there's more than enough room for a friendly three-in-a-row.

Swing up the tailgate and there really does look to be enough room for a spot of glamping. At 610 'boxy' litres the boot truly is a huge one and will carry more than most anything else for the money. Boosting versatility, the rear backrest's central load-through section is large by ski-hatch standards, making transporting long and bulky items doable while at the same time still carrying two adults.

And it doesn't end there because pull the release levers in the boot and the 60:40-split rear seatbacks spring forward and self-fold to create a massive 1,740-litre loadbay (that's substantially more than the 1,526 to be found in a Volvo V90 wagon).

The resulting cargo bay floor is both seamless and all on one level. Plus there's no lip to load over, so cargo can be slid smoothly in and out. A two-height boot floor adds about four inches to the boot when set at its lower level, and one of the boot lights is a removable torch that recharges while you drive. And if tow you must (note that Trailer Assist is available as an option) the vRS willingly hauls a braked 2,000kg.

The Octavia estate vRS is a genuine all-weather-capable, all-rounder for five with enough luggage and load space to survive the end of the world. It's also a satisfyingly focused 'steer' that will keep keen drivers grinning even when their entire tribe is along for the ride ~ MotorBar
.
Skoda Octavia Estate vRS 2.0 TDI 184PS 4x4 DSG | 30,225
Maximum speed: 136mph | 0-60mph: 7.8 seconds | Test Average: 46.9mpg
Power: 181bhp | Torque: 280lb ft | CO2:135g/km

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