site search by freefind
MotorBar: 1200+ unique in-depth car reviews. Plus travel & destinations, and 1000 DVD and CD reviews. Online for 14 years. Written by experts.
Skoda Octavia vRS 230

Click to view picture gallery“One in every five Skoda Octavias
  sold in the UK wears the famous
  three-lettered vRS badge, and to
  date Brits have bought almost fifty
  thousand of these performance
  versions...”


THAT'S A LOT OF 'GO FASTER', although the very fastest vRS leaves even the latest, and hottest, 227bhp version in the shade — in 2011 a vRS clocked 227mph to set an international land speed record at Bonneville.

When the first high-performance Octavia vRS appeared, its everyman's price and high equipment levels meant that no rival came close for value and driving entertainment and, not surprisingly, it proved an instant hit with hard-charging family drivers with a yen to stay under the radar.

After a decade and a half of making happy drivers, we thought we'd check out the on-going appeal of the Octavia vRS. Which is how we came to be sitting behind the grippy, flat-bottomed wheel of a gleaming metallic Moon White 227bhp range-topping vRS.

“This is the hottest vRS
so far: mated to a six-
speed manual ’box, its
227 horses and 258lb ft of
torque are enough
to take it to more than
twice the legal limit —
all the way to 155mph —
and to get it off the
blocks to the benchmark
62mph in a crisp
6.7 seconds...”
Recently introduced, this is the hottest vRS so far: mated to a six-speed manual 'box, its 227 horses and 258lb ft of torque are enough to take it to more than twice the legal limit all the way to 155mph and to get it off the blocks to the benchmark 62mph in a crisp 6.7 seconds.

With its subtle, almost Audi-like lines, a well-blended mix of sports saloon and hot hatch styling, the Octavia vRS exudes an understated aggression that's reinforced by the black body trimmings (door mirrors, grille and headlights) and racy Xtreme-design 19-inch black alloy wheels wrapped in 225/35 lo-pro rubber.

'Discreet' sums it up nicely even the black vRS badging, small rear wing and black gloss tailpipes are low-key. But then that's precisely what appeals about the vRS and next time one appears in your rearview mirror check your speed because a lot work as undercover traffic police cars.

Pull open the driver's door and you'll be welcomed by a firmly-bolstered vRS-branded sports seat upholstered in black leather with red stitching and a vRS-badged flat-bottomed steering wheel with a matching black leather and red-stitched rim with perforated 'work' areas. And for those of you who know how to perform a J-turn, the traditional handbrake will be a welcome sight.

Drop into the comfortably supportive pleated leather and your ideal driving position, with clear views over the bonnet, can be set in seconds courtesy of full power adjustment including lumbar the driver also gets three memory settings for theirs. Headroom is plentiful and there's plenty of room for elbow twirling on the twisty bits and perfectly usable outer armrests when pootling.

Dash ergonomics are first-rate, all the more so due to their simplicity and clarity. This is a car you can hop into and be away without any fussing whether you're just off to the day job, dropping the kids at school, or taking the family away for a week at half-term.

Inside, this latest third-generation Octavia is even more cavernous than its predecessors and everyone aboard gets more than enough personal space with superior legroom and a comfy seat. While the trim is sporty high gloss black and chrome, there's plenty of sense and sensibility: good size bottle-holding door pockets, triple cupholders, a fair-sized cooled glovebox, etc.

“You’ll be welcomed by a
firmly-bolstered vRS-
branded sports seat
upholstered in black
leather with red stitching
and a vRS-badged flat-
bottomed steering wheel
with a matching black
leather and red-stitched
rim with perforated
‘work’ areas...”
Between the crisp white-on-black dials dead ahead there's a display showing a wealth of driver data ranging from navigation cues and digital speed readout to core trip information.

Centre-dash is a seven-inch touchscreen for the infotainment and car settings flanked by hard buttons for direct entry into the main menus for radio, media, phone, voice, navigation, and traffic, plus there's an easy map zoom. It's all so straightforward you can skip the handbook and just use it.

Sharply defined 3D mapping (with speed limit traffic sign recognition and display) is quick and destination input and navigation directions foolproof, and if you like your sounds the stereo will be music to your ears; when, that is, you're not listening to the sports exhaust.

Standard kit is comprehensive and includes heated sports seats, sports suspension, dual-zone climate control (with a very nice line in 'chilled'), SatNav, front and rear parking sensors, rearview camera, Bluetooth, DAB tuner, cruise control, lap timer, tinted glass, auto-dimming rearview mirror, one-shot up/down windows, powerfold door mirrors (on demand and automatically on locking and leaving), ally pedal set, auto lights and wipes, drop-down sunglasses holder, Bi-Xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights, sports exhaust and striking 19-inch alloy wheels.

Safety is equally well addressed with a five-star EuroNCAP rating, a full set of seven airbags (including driver's knee), Hill Hold, Lane Assist, a driver fatigue sensor, and automatic post-collision braking to prevent knock-on accidents after a crash.

Access to and from the rear cabin is made easy by doors that open wide although even half-open it's easy to get in or out handy in car parks. Once aboard there's plenty of room for knees and feet plus the backrests are set at a relaxing angle. The wide and well padded centre armrest (with triple cupholders) is just the job for two adults sharing, who can also enjoy dedicated climate control air vents. Views out in all directions are good, and the atmosphere airy even though the decor is all-black. Three side-by-side is doable and all will enjoy a fist of headroom.

There's a lot more to the Octavia than meets the eye when you stroll around to the tail and pop the hatch-style bootlid. With the seats up, you're presented with a huge 590 litres; pull the levers in the boot to fold them and the boot maxes out to 1,580 litres more than many out-and-out estate cars.

The petrol-drinking
227bhp 2.0-litre
makes an entertaining
road-buddy — as punchy
as it is revvy, it always
feels ready to rumble,
helped by the accurate
and clean-changing six-
speed manual ’box...”
Although the rear seats don't fold completely flat, it's not something that hampers carrying cargo, and adding to the 40:60-split back seat's versatility is a central load-through hatch plus a stretchy storage net, four bag hooks and plenty of tie-down points.

The petrol-drinking four-cylinder 2.0-litre makes an entertaining road-buddy as punchy as it is revvy, it always feels ready to rumble, helped by the accurate and clean-changing six-speed manual 'box.

You could opt for a paddle-shift DSG two-pedal set-up but then you'll take an extra tenth of a second to hit 62mph! Power is put down through the front wheels (for the record, 4WD is available but it only comes with the less brawny 181bhp turbodiesels).

Aiding and abetting the top-performing vRS's 227bhp is 258lb ft of torque that's fully on tap from 1,500rpm all the way to 4,600rpm; put the pedal to the metal and you'll be pleased to find it's torquey from low revs right through to its red-line and it sounds as good as its turboed delivery feels.

Potent powerplant aside, there's another on-board features that rachets up the excitement: Performance Mode Selection. This allows drivers to choose between Normal, Eco, Sport and driver-customised Individual, which lets you personalise responses from the steering, engine, front diff lock, and even the Performance Sound Generator that delivers an enhanced engine note into the cabin.

Mention the P word (Performance) and expectations of decent fuel economy tend to disappear, but even with an official 45.6mpg quoted for the Combined cycle we were still very pleasantly surprised to record an overall average for a week's pretty hard driving of a hand-on-heart 41.9mpg! Not that driving slow 'n' easy with the family unit aboard is a hardship, especially as swift 'n' sassy is always waiting in the wings.

The vRS has a longer wheelbase than the Golf GTI 5-door it shares its chassis, running gear and engine with, something that swings its character from outright hot-hatch to agile and involving sports saloon. Not that that's a problem because included in the package, along with the sports suspension set-up, is a generous supply of grip and steering quick enough to exploit it pressing on, this high-powered vRS feels enjoyably 'together'.

The vRS’s character is
less outright hot-hatch
and more agile and
involving sports saloon.
Not that that’s a problem
because included in the
package is a generous
supply of grip and
steering quick enough
to exploit it...”
As in any sporting saloon, back seat passengers would generally prefer their driver not to throw the vRS around. Well, not too much… However, thanks to near-bucket-style seats it's a different, more indulgent, story for the driver and their front passenger for whom it's 'game on' whenever the mood strikes.

All passengers will, however, appreciate the well-damped, civilised ride even rolling on the 19-inch alloys, it's never too firm and smoothes out the bigger the numbers on the digital speedo get; but just below the 'comfort' strata there's always the easily-reached 'purposeful'.

Whenever you really want to up the pace you'll be glad of, and backed up by, the 230's standard-fit electro-mechanical front locking differential. This not only aids traction but adds tangibly more focus to the car's balance; throw the vRS into a bend and you can feel the diff helping to hold your line without compromise. And whenever you need to be on the anchors, the beefed-up brakes deliver composed stopping.

Nothing's changed: the Octavia vRS still hits the spot it's a tasty concoction of hot-hatch action and family guy practicality, all packaged in a roomy, good-looking five-door body. All in all, a smiley ownership proposition. ~ MotorBar

Skoda Octavia vRS 230 | £26,350
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-62mph: 6.7 seconds | Test Average: 41.9mpg
Power: 227bhp | Torque: 258lb ft | CO2: 142g/km