Diesel power is not, and never has been, the first thing that comes to mind when hot hatchbacks are the subject of discussion.
Not that anyone has told Skoda when it comes to the Skoda Octavia vRS.
Skoda has long ploughed this particular furrow, and has to some extent made the niche its own with a line of fast, frugal and clandestine products that stretches all the way back to the boxy Fabia vRS supermini of 2003. Yes, the entire vRS sub-brand sprang into life via the black plump.
Which is perhaps why, when so many car makers are ditching diesel and heading for the hybrid hills in order to reduce their average fleet emissions, Skoda is reprising its quick TDI Skoda Octavia vRS for no less than the fourth time.
Admittedly, this latest mode also comes in Skoda Octavia vRS petrol and petrol-electric plug-in hybrid Skoda OCtavia vRS forms, both of which have powertrains considerably more powerful than the 2.0-litre TDI we’re testing here, and so bets are most definitely being hedged in Mladá Boleslav. But the decision to give the diesel derivative a stay of execution suggests Skoda recognises how much satisfaction this car’s forebears have given their often loyal owners, and that there is life in the concept yet.