A genuinely quick and entertaining addition to the Octavia line-up. But more worthy as a rapid estate car than a hot hatch rival

Our Verdict

Skoda Octavia vRS
It's not difficult to distinguish the standard vRS from the more conventional models

We test the all-new version of Skoda's Octavia vRS, which combines Golf GTI performance with practicality and a reasonable price tag

19 September 2006

What's new?

Only the engine, really. This is Skoda's idiosyncratic Octavia vRS - the big hatch oddity that tries hard to be a hot hatch - in diesel form. That means 170bhp, 258lb ft of torque from 1800rpm and over 48mpg.

What's it like?

A hoot. Mated to the trusty VW Group six-speed gearbox, the 170bhp diesel lump packs a serious punch. This is a car that pushes you back into the seat in first, second or third gear and it's easy to believe Skoda's claimed 0-60mph time of 8.5sec, and the top speed of 140mph.

That grunt doesn't come without the odd side effect, though. There's lag, naturally, although the torque is far enough down the rev range that it's negated in all but first gear. Then there's the clatter - even when it's warmed up, this is not an oil-burner that fades into background hum. And don't bother going beyond half-throttle in the wet either, because when the traction control steps in to tame all that torque, you get horrendous juddering.

In better conditions, though, the diesel vRS experience improves considerably. On the move, the Octavia has always been a car to disguise its bulk and that continues here. Given a decent B-road, the TDI PD munches miles with great aplomb - those wallops of torque mean that it's easy to maintain momentum, particularly in third or fourth.

It's quick to turn in - pointy, even (possibly due to the extra weight over the front wheels) - but the back end never feels like it's about to desert you. That, in part, is down to a good suspension set-up, for Skoda's engineers could clearly teach their colleagues at Seat at thing or two about damping. The ride is reassuringly firm without being as intrusive as anything sporting a Cupra or FR badge.

The Octavia is an entertaining drive, then, albeit a clear step behind a Focus ST or Astra VXR. But this package is about more than that - there's plenty of room in the rear and even in regular hatchback form, the boot is massive. The fuel tank isn't small either, resulting in a range of nearly 600 miles - almost double that of the Ford or Vauxhall, in other words.

Inside, the kit list includes climate control and CD player, as well as driver, passenger and side airbags. It's a bit sombre but it feels well made. Flashy vRS seats do their best to brighten the mood.

Should I buy one?

If you want space as well as fun and don't place great importance on how good your engine sounds, the Octavia TDI PD vRS is a solid choice. This is a genuinely quick car that can easily cope with four adults. But given that this combination is its biggest selling point, you might be better off spending the extra £900 and going for the vast estate model instead.

As a hot hatch, the Octavia is just not quite there. But as a fast load carrier over long distances, it suddenly becomes far better value.

Join the debate

Comments
11

26 October 2007

I went for the estate version with a truly useful boot. With a young family, a labrador and a lust for the great outdoors, there are few cars that ticked all the boxes for me. I needed something that would be fun on the twisties, refined on the motorway and frugal for my 50 mile round trip commute.

The engine is just beginning to loosen up and starting to release more urge after 4k miles and yes, whilst there's no mistaking it's diesel lineage, once on the move and warmed up, it fails to intrude.

With huge dollops of torque, a judicious right foot is required to avoid spinning up the driving wheels - I have not suffered the vibes that the tester experienced - however there is a distinct lack of any torque steer. The unintrusive traction control is best left on as it still allows you to manage the power and make progress refreshing change from the stifling control in a previous Golf GTtdi.

My friend was amazed at how I managed to stay with him in his Focus ST3 on a range of roads - and even better I was enjoying at least 15mpg more during that time.

If you are a family man that doesn't want to give up the right to have a blast every now and again, yet requires a safe, sensible and frugal family load lugger, you can do a lot worse than the VRS Tdi.

26 October 2007

John, I am a complete Skoda fan. I ran an 02 plate mk1 vRS from new and was completely bowled over by the whole ownership experience. Although it was a company car, I take as much care over them as if they were bought with my own hard earned.

Being a hatch had no draw backs when it came to carrying large loads. It handled everything I asked of it in two years of ownership and 120,000 miles, with nothing more than the usual tyre replacement and servicing being required.

I changed jobs and always wanted an Alfa Romeo, so had my new employer said no to the Alfa I would have gone for the mk2 vRS diesel.

Enjoy your car, as you will be hard pushed to find a more complete car for the money.

29 October 2007

I will be driving our long term Octavia VRS diesel to Germany on Friday, and am actually looking forward to the trip. You're right - a more complete car would be very hard to come by.

7 March 2009

I have hade the Octvia 1.9 TDI Estate for the past three years fom new. I test drove the new 2.0 VRS hatch and brought one there and then. It arives on the 2nd April 2009 can't wait.

I use the car for aout 30k - 35k a year in miles during the week I am on my own for most part and will have nothing but fun burning them miles up. On the weekends I have my family two boys 4 & 6 and my wife the car then becomes a family saloon and drives as one, very different than the foot down head pushe into the seat Monday - Friday car.

I recommend this to any family man who wants to keep his boy racer side and keep the wife happy at the weekends.

Thanks Skoda for the new VRS............

14 May 2010

Having been told I could replace my Peugoet 407 company car, I spent a while looking at my options but nothing I looked at ticked all my boxes like the diesel vRS did. Having test drove an estate vRS with manual gearbox on 20/03/10, I duly returned to the dealer and placed an order on 22/03/10 for the hatch version with DSG gearbox in race metallic blue.

Frustratingly it doesn't look like I'll be taking delivery until early July at the moment (getting an update from the dealer end of May) but every review I've read shows that the wait will be worth it. Looking forward to driving around the country in it for work during the week on my own having fun and then using it (slightly more sensibly) as the family car at weekends with my wife and two kids (boy 9 and daughter 5).

Quite a few people have raised their eyebrows when I've mentioned my choice of new car so am desperate to take delivery and prove them all wrong and continue the turnaround in public opinion of Skoda cars, a badge snob I am not but I can still remember most of the Skoda jokes from my school days in the 80's, I think the cars have come a long way since then.

14 May 2010

they have never ,really, been bad cars even if you go right back to the rear engined 130's which used to win their class every year in the rac rally.i dont know where the prejudices came from in the first place,probably because they were made in an old warsaw pact country i suppose.......... i have driven the tdi vrs and was very impressed with the engine,which pulled like a train but was still extremely smooth.im looking to replace my landy with one too(tho,i may go for the fsi version,which is even smoother,apparently)

14 May 2010

[quote Vicky Parrott.]a more complete car would be very hard to come by.[/quote]

a more boring car would be very hard to come by.......oh wait there's the Golf

15 May 2010

[quote blasos1983]

[quote Vicky Parrott.]a more complete car would be very hard to come by.[/quote]

a more boring car would be very hard to come by.......oh wait there's the Golf

[/quote] If you've driven one, you'll see that it's far from boring. A tad boring in basic guise, yes, but the complete opposite in VRS guise. What I can say is that it's a joy to drive, beautiful to look at and be in, and surprisingly economical. Ours it the pre-facelift limited edition version - everyone comments on it and anyone who's snobby about Skodas these days is clearly still living in the dark ages. Enjoy your new car! :)

"The creative adult is the child who survived."

16 May 2010

golf.....boring,octavia vrs not!

17 May 2010

[quote rubym75]

Quite a few people have raised their eyebrows when I've mentioned my choice of new car so am desperate to take delivery and prove them all wrong and continue the turnaround in public opinion of Skoda cars, a badge snob I am not but I can still remember most of the Skoda jokes from my school days in the 80's, I think the cars have come a long way since then.

[/quote]Rubym, I have been in exactly this position but it was when the Mk1 vRS was in circulation and believe me the sniggers and ribbing I took prior to taking delivery all fell away when collegues realised just how good a car it was. Still makes me smile today.

You will enjoy not just the drive but the whole Skoda experience, the dealers I came into contact with have all been excellent.

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