22 April 2004

Details of the next-generation Skoda Octavia vRS have leaked out, courtesy of the Czech company itself. These photos of a vRS-style model appeared as thumbnails on the company’s European website, despite Skoda’s official line being that a vRS model doesn’t yet exist.

However, senior insiders have confirmed plans to replace the current version. It will become Skoda’s most powerful road car when it arrives in early 2006, and these pictures reveal that the typical vRS styling cues will be carried over from both the current Octavia and Fabia vRS models.

These include oval exhaust pipe, vertical shafts in the front air intake, a rear bumper without rubber strips and all-new bumper designs front and back. A small boot spoiler completes the subtle but purposeful sporting makeover, while the interior will get the usual vRS-specific changes such as two-tone seats and chrome-rimmed dials.

Under the bonnet, the second-generation Octavia vRS should get a power increase over the current car’s 180bhp from the ubiquitous 1.8-litre turbo engine currently used across the VW group. Insiders suggest it will use the 200bhp 2.0 FSi turbo engine bolted into the VW Golf GTi concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show last year.

Skoda may also follow up last year’s diesel-only Fabia vRS, amid talk of a new 2.5-litre V6 VW engine pumping out 180bhp.

Skoda will drop the ride height, as it did by 15mm with the current vRS, and is also expected to upgrade the brakes, dampers, springs and anti-roll bars. The standard Octavia hatchback hits UK showrooms in June; the estate will arrive early next year, around eight months after the hatchback’s launch. Along with the vRS, the full Octavia family will be completed by the addition of 4x4 models, both saloon and hatch, in 2006.

Our Verdict

Ariel Atom

In every form the Ariel Atom delivers thrills as exhilarating as any car can deliver. And there’s no greater recommendation than that.

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