This week, we attended the international launch of the new Skoda Octavia vRS in Austria. The rest of the Octavia range has seen some subtle, but nice, changes of late and the cars now don newer grilles, better technologies and a more refined engine line-up. It's time for the vRS to get the same treatment.
For those of you who don't know, the Skoda Octavia vRS is Skoda's answer to the Golf GTI. It comes with a higher-powered engine than your run of the mill Octavia, but, like the Golf, offers the same practicalities that you would get in the entry-level model.
The thing that visually distinguishes the Skoda Octavia vRS most from the regular Octavia is those 3 letters, “V.R.S” on the nose. The initial Irish petrol offering will give 230hp. Also available is the diesel model which offers 181hp, and makes some nice noises (yes, the sound symposer plays its part here).
Mentioning the 230hp engine is a bit pointless though, because within a couple of months of launch, this will be replaced by a 245 hp engine. Sadly, this wasn’t available for the launch drive, so our beasts of choice were the 230hp petrol and the diesel.
Of course, the petrol model is the more thrilling of the two on offer at the moment and it offers masses of fun. I guess the reason why they left the 230hp engine on the fleet for the test drive is so that we could sample some of the technologies on offer with the car. Most of our test drives were confined to various tracks in Austria. We battled dry slaloms, wet slaloms, drift courses and a 1km track - all of which we navigated repeatedly. On the wet, the ESC in sport mode did an excellent job in keeping the car safe. Where we should have been doing 360s, we were exiting safely and straight. The correction was excellent.
On-paper, the new 230hp vRS offers 0-100km/h in just 6.7 seconds. All you need to know if you are opting for one of these is that it can go from 0-100km/h impressively quick and it makes some nice noises to compliment that fact. The power is impressively felt with torque kicking in at a relatively low 1,500rpm. If you're like me and like your fast car to sound like it drives, then press the vRS button and a playful burble can be heard as you make your way through the gears.
The 2.0TDI diesel offering is available in both front and all-wheel drive – of course, this is a good choice for those of you who live on mountain roads or in areas prone to a bit of snow – but for most punters, the front wheel drive will probably be the motor of choice. Both petrol and diesel models are available with 6-speed manual or DSG gearboxes.
As is with the pre-facelift model, the steering is precise and the car feels grounded with its weight distributed nicely around the vehicle. vRS models also come with firmer sport suspensions – which can, and probably will, result in a bumpy ride on some of our potholes in Ireland!
Our Skoda Octavia 2017 review
Where the Octavia beats the likes of the Volkswagen Golf GTi or the Ford Focus ST is in the practicality game. All three are sporty versions of practical cars, but the Octavia from entry level is far more practical than a base Focus or a base Golf. This makes the vRS that little bit extra special. It’s in a position now where even parents could get away with buying a sporty car… because they can now fit in the buggy and the child seats and the suitcases… and the other stuff. Another bonus about the Octavia vRS is that it’s available in estate form… now you’re talking! The hatchback model offers an excellent 590 litres of space, while the Combi (estate) version gives a brilliant 610 litres.
The updated vRS also comes with a new 9.2” touch screen, which is not dissimilar to the one found in the Volkswagen Golf. As usual, you can also expect some nice equipment within in the Octavia. The plastics are good and there is good connectivity (USB and Bluetooth) to the front.
Leg room and cabin space to the front and rear is excellent, and the boot in both the hatch and estate (or Combi) is class-leading.
In terms of price, we’ve been told by Skoda Ireland that the Octavia RS will start from €34,450 (RS – 2.0 TDI 184hp), while the Combi starts from €35,450. Both cars are available to order now. If it was my pick – I’d spend the extra grand on the Combi.
All-in, and once again, Skoda has succeeded in bringing an excellent product to our market with a reasonable price tag attached. The Octavia vRS has a good mix of thrills, practicality and pure driving fun.