3 November 2004

SKODA is putting the finishing touches to its fastest ever production car – a 200bhp vRS version of the latest Octavia. The new hot hatch will go on sale towards the end of next year powered by the turbocharged 2.0-litre engine from the new VW Golf GTi – whose £19,995 price it is set to undercut by some margin.

The Octavia will feature much more aggressive looks than its predecessor, which will continue to be sold alongside the second-generation Octavia range until its replacement arrives.

‘It will take the vRS brand one step further,’ said Skoda’s head of technical development, Harald Ludanek. ‘You will be surprised by it.’

Skoda is keen to draw more overt links between its vRS models and its world rally team, which could be spearheaded by Britain’s Colin McRae next year. There may also be a diesel Octavia vRS in the pipeline (the Fabia vRS supermini is diesel-only) although no final decision has yet been taken.

As part of the sporting makeover, Skoda will drop the ride height, as it did with the outgoing vRS, which sits 15mm lower than the standard car. Other changes will include uprated springs, dampers and brakes.

Ludanek confirmed that Skoda will build a successor to its range-topping Superb saloon, despite its slow sales in the UK. The second-generation car will be a hatchback and is unlikely to arrive before the end of 2006.

The company is also preparing a concept car for next year’s Geneva Motor Show that will foreshadow the first Skoda MPV. It has already displayed one people-carrying concept, 2003’s Roomster.

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