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Skoda Octavia vRS 2.0 TSI 245PS DSG
Click to view picture gallery“Hankering after some PPP poke,
  pace and performance
but finding
  yourself light on the readies?
  No problem
Skodas affordable
  go-faster vRS Octavia could be just
  the ticket...”

AND WITH 242BHP backed up by 273lb ft of torque it's unquestionably fit for purpose. Top speed is 155mph and the 0-62mph sprint is dismissed in an agreeably rapid 6.7 seconds. With more power and classy technology these latest fourth generation vRS Octavias double-up as a fast, roomy and splendidly practical family motors. No surprise, then, that one in five of all Octavias sold in the UK are vRS models.

While you don't get a lairy picnic tray spoiler or rorty exhausts, the vRS's red brake callipers, meaty 19-inch anthracite-coloured alloy wheels, slatted radiator grille, lower air diffuser, and 'air curtains' above the front fogs ensure there's absolutely no doubt that you're looking at a hard-edged Octavia. In point of fact, fast-charging owners will be sure to welcome the vRS's ability to stay under the radar.

You can have your vRS
in one of three flavours:
242bhp straight petrol;
plug-in petrol-electric
hybrid also with 242bhp;
or 197bhp turbodiesel
with the option of
all-wheel drive
Visuals aside, the vRS comes in three different underbonnet flavours: petrol, plug-in hybrid, and diesel. The petrol version reviewed here favours a 242bhp turboed 2.0-litre TSI engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with power put down via the front wheels. The iV DSG plug-in hybrid variant runs a 1.4-litre petrol engine/electric motor combo that exactly matches the petrol drinking 2.0-litre's 242bhp. Finally there's a 197bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel, also with a DSG 'box but which additionally offers the option of Skoda's advanced all-wheel drive system.

Swing open the driver's door and you'll find the interior is invitingly sporting. Highlights are the purposefully-bolstered, track-style seats with integrated headrests and supportive shoulder 'wings' upholstered in suede-like Alcantara. Embellished quilted centre panels, distinctive red stitching and embossed 'vRS' branding along with a padded dash panel of the same red-stitched suede all boost the appeal. The sporty three-spoke, flat-bottomed multifunction steering wheel with paddle-shifters and a perforated leather rim looks — and feels — invitingly grippy. And, like the front seats, the wheel rim gets three-stage heating. As you can guess, and boosted by big pedals with plenty of room for booted feet, the driving position is spot-on.

Trim materials are pleasingly tactile and combined with carbon-optic decorative inserts, a 'free-standing' landscape-format, tablet-sized 10-inch touchscreen infotainment/SatNav system, 10.25-inch Virtual Cockpit digital instrument display, and a set of aluminium pedals, makes for a tastefully finished cabin that confidently blends comfort and practicality with sportiness. Adjustable manual lumbar support and height adjustment on front seats roomy enough for larger drivers and passengers ups the physical comfort on long hauls.

Fit and finish is noticeably good and the layout of controls and switchgear well thought-out: everything you need to touch is exactly where you'd expect it to be, which is exactly at it should be in a car where 'driving' is The Word. Performance credentials aside, what especially sets the vRS apart from its peers is the space; there's a limo-load of it both for passengers and luggage, and far more than you'll find in rival offerings.

Often overlooked when people go for a test drive is in-cabin storage. Even if you forget to check, Skoda has got your back — there are ample places inside the vRS to tidy away all your personal odds and ends thanks to a generous-sized coin box in the fascia, chilled glovebox, large and lengthy bottle-holding door bins, a storage box beneath the height-adjustable centre armrest, a deep tray-cum-'bed' for your smartphone with adjacent USB slots, dual-use cupholders, and an overhead drop-down glasses case for your shades.

Power reaches the front
wheels via a smooth-shifting seven-speed DSG autobox that’s particularly well partnered with the 273lb ft of twist on tap from 1,600rpm. The vRS has all the rip-roaring eagerness you’re ever likely to need; it’s fast when called on (0-62mph in 6.7 seconds) and delivers a robust punch that’s ripe with instant low-end grunt yet still retains plenty in hand at the top-end...”
The vRS comes tricked out with a generous dose of the latest tech, most notably the brand's much-admired Virtual Cockpit instrument panel offering five different crystal clear layouts that show as little or as much information as suits you. Naturally all include a large digital road speed readout. You also get the line-up's range-topping Columbus infotainment and foolproof navigation system fronted by a large touchscreen display. Well worth the extra cost is the optional head-up display that keeps you fully informed of speed and navigation prompts without you ever needing to take your eyes away from the road.

While the dual-zone climate system is controlled through the main screen, the most-used controls (heated seats and dual-zone temperatures) along with the current settings are displayed permanently for you to finger-tap-adjust directly, making for safer interaction when driving. Also easy to use is the strip of 'piano key' switches covering major functions (hazards, drive settings, climate mode, etc) that sits immediately below the touchscreen. Other regularly used controls such as those for the heated steering wheel rim and voice command activation are immediately to hand on the steering wheel boss.

Another smart touch is the minimalist DSG selector tab — this dinky lever is satisfyingly flickable through its R-N-D/S gate. A stand-alone Park button automatically applies the electric handbrake for you while locking the transmission. For other times there is a separate button for the electric handbrake as well an Auto function that's a boon in stop-start traffic. Enhancing driving pleasure is Skoda's Driving Profile Selection that offers a choice of five settings from Eco to Sport.

Needless to say that vRS models are generously fitted-out with all the expected must-have kit including keyless entry (front and rear doors) and push-button engine start/stop, electric-powered boot, Adaptive Cruise Control, heated front seats, automatic dual-zone AirCon, virtual dials, top-end SatNav, front and rear parking sensors with Manoeuvre Assist, privacy glass, LED ambient interior lighting, DAB radio, Pro-active services, Smartlink (includes Android Auto and MirrorLink) plus wireless Smartlink for Apple CarPlay, and powerfolding heated door mirrors (on demand and auto on locking & leaving). And — always an essential in the UK! — you also get a compact brolly stored in the driver's door!

Safety kit includes full LED Matrix headlights with AFS (Skoda's adaptive front light system designed to provide maximum light at night without dazzling other road users), LED daytime running lights, LED front fogs, LED rear lights, e-Call with SOS button, curtain airbags plus front side airbags and a driver's knee airbag, Isofix mountings on the front passenger seat as well as the outer rear seats, Front Assist (collision-alert system with automatic emergency braking), Lane Assist, auto lights and wipes, and tyre pressure monitoring.

Despite the Octavia hatch's coupe-like roofline, the rear cabin is welcomingly roomy with well-padded seats upholstered in the same quilted Alcantara as up front. Climb aboard and you'll find masses of legroom along with plenty of air around your head and your feet — despite their size, the large 'bucket'-style sports front seats leave plenty of space for those travelling behind. Passengers seated either side of the wide and nicely cushioning central armrest can chillax to their hearts content; and even if three need to travel side-by-side none of the trio will feel in the least bit restricted.

Riding shotgun
alongside the pilot during
B-road blasting is a
pretty stirring place to be
but equally good is
being chauffeured over
several hundred miles in
the quiet rear cabin
where it feels more like
re aboard a far larger
luxury car.
s engineers have
got the ride:comfort
balance bang to rights —
the über-sporty vRS
handles bumps and
blacktop imperfections
with far more grace than
most other
When it comes to stowing your personal gear there's more good news — individual pouches on the front seatbacks are provided to keep your smartphone safe and accessible with larger main pouches for other stuff. And along with dedicated rear cabin air vents there is also a pair of fast-charge USB ports, big door bins, pop-out cupholders, privacy glass, and windows that drop fully into the door for dedicated two- or four-legged fresh-air fans.

Riding shotgun alongside the pilot during B-road blasting is a pretty stirring place to be but equally enjoyable is being chauffeured over several hundred miles in the quiet rear cabin where it feels more like you're aboard a far larger luxury car. Skoda's engineers have got the ride:comfort balance bang to rights — even rolling on its 225/40 19-inch Bridgestone rubber, the über-sporty vRS handles bumps and blacktop imperfections with far more grace than most other 'hotties' so your passengers can lap-up the unexpectedly good gait (especially in the Dynamic Chassis Control's Comfort setting) and reach their destination as calm and collected as when they first set off.

For the keen pilot, the vRS is a precise driving tool, albeit one that doesn't need winding-up to satisfy. Our test vRS was fitted with the optional (£1,040) Dynamic Chassis Control with Driving Profile Selection which enables you, whenever you like, to switch the driving mode between Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport and Individual. Driven quickly the vRS is reassuringly predictable, composed and pointedly under your control. Body movement is well-contained but there's ample pliancy in the sports suspension (lowered by 15mm) to keep it planted, and its nose will commit to and hold your line faithfully even when faced with the unexpected.

The vRS also benefits from Skoda's progressive dynamic steering and serves up decent feedback while delivering brisk turn-in. Not all fast cars come with 'team player' brakes but the vRS's red-painted callipers do far more than simply look good — the hefty, vented discs front and rear are backed-up by decent pedal feel and are trustworthy and nicely progressive used at any speed. Taken together, the vRS's well-honed dynamic characteristics make for an engaging driving experience every time out.

The standard-fit electronically-controlled limited slip differential is slickly effective without being too hardcore and helps keep the vRS feeling light on its feet through the twisties. So, feel free to go hell for leather along demanding roads because this vRS has no hidden vices. That said, the real joy is to be found savouring its easy-going nature which makes pressing on point-to-point as unruffled as trickling nonchalantly around the houses.

Power reaches the front wheels via a smooth-shifting seven-speed DSG autobox that's particularly well partnered with the 273lb ft of twist on tap from 1,600rpm (and which continues uninterrupted straight through to 4,300rpm). On today's roads the vRS has all the rip-roaring eagerness you're ever likely to need. Fast when called on (the 0-62mph sprint is done and dusted in 6.7 seconds), the turboed 242bhp 2.0-litre TSI lump delivers a robust punch that's ripe with instant low-end grunt yet still retains plenty in hand at the top-end.

The boot is impressive;
big enough to be called
a ‘hold’ due to its
600-litre capacity, it will
swallow a huge amount
of luggage or cargo.
Loading is easy courtesy
of a high-lifting lid and
a generous opening
along with a fast-acting
electrically-powered rear hatch...”
Select Sport mode and you'll love the vRS's addictive yeeha side. Spare the welly and it uses its muscle to shrink the miles, whisking you along while keeping distances between fill-ups as far apart as possible. Officially it will return 40.4-40.9mpg on the combined cycle; on hard-driven real-world roads we saw 38.3mpg without ever trying to maintain a light right-foot. For the record, the 197bhp 4x4 turbodiesel vRS will hit 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds and return 50.4-51.4mpg.

Given the Octavia's 4.7-metre length, the boot is impressive; big enough to be called a 'hold' due to its 600-litre capacity, it will swallow a huge amount of luggage or cargo. Despite the rakish tail treatment, loading is easy courtesy of a high-lifting hatch and a generous opening along with a usefully square boot layout. Appreciated too is the lid's fast electrically-powered opening and closing conveniently operated via the cabin switch, key fob or the tailgate buttons.

If you want bigger, simply pull the release levers in the boot and the 60:40-split rear seatbacks will fold forward and down for you without further ado, opening up a versatile 1,555-litre loadbay. For the record, longer items can be carried between the two outer rear passengers courtesy of the large ski-hatch in the wider backrest section. Handy too for smaller bags are the extra pockets at the boot's rear corners, plus the bag-hooks are genuinely robust.

For £32K the vRS makes a very persuasive proposition whether you're buying one for its family-friendly practicality and versatility, its spacious, comfortable, and well-specced interior, or purely for its pace and pleasingly rapid fuss-free driveability. Given you get all these things for your money, the vRS is a winning blend and it most definitely gets our vote! ~ MotorBar
Skoda Octavia vRS 2.0 TSI 245PS DSG | £32,300
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-62mph: 6.7 seconds | Test Average: 38.3mpg
Power: 242bhp | Torque: 273lb ft | CO2: