Skoda pioneered the diesel hot hatch with the Fabia vRS, and the Czech manufacturer has now done the same for its bigger Octavia model. The engine is the punchiest diesel in the VW stable, with 170bhp and 275lb ft of torque. That torque is available from 1800rpm, so flexibility should be excellent. But the diesel can’t match the petrol’s outright pace: the diesel hatch takes a second longer than the petrol to reach 60mph. Its economy and emissions are a little more wallet-friendly, however, at 48mpg on the combined cycle (giving over 580 miles on a tank) and 157 g/km. The petrol manages 35mpg and puts out 190 g/km.
Available as a hatch or estate, equipment is comprehensive and prices start from £18,370 for the hatch and £19,220 for the estate.