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Amid a broader vRS refresh, Skoda has built its most powerful Octavia yet to take on the established order

If you’re fond of an underdog such as the Skoda Octavia vRS, it’s rather hard not to hold a candle for Skoda’s vRS brand.

By rights, and in the grand scheme of the Volkswagen Group’s thinking, it ought not really to exist at all.

Rather than make a messy reference to ‘245’, Skoda has chosen to identify it with a blacked-out ‘v’ on the vRS badge. We rather like that

Seat is supposed to deal with the low-priced sporty stuff, while Volkswagen peddles the more prestigious GTI and R badges.

The Czech division is for practicality, good sense and affordable functionality. The Skoda Fbia vRS was spiked long ago, and the Skoda Superb variant never even arrived, ending up an unseen stillborn of cancelled development. And yet the Skoda Octavia vRS soldiers on.

It does so because, like the current stock model on which it’s based, the car does rather fill a void. Its curious size – virtually reaching D-segment proportions while still gamely clinging to its C-segment status – means that it serves a clientele that values spaciousness and utility almost as much as it does pace and hot hatch-style desirability.

It is this niche and impressively loyal customer base that have kept the vRS going despite the odds, encouraging Skoda not only to update the model as part of the Skoda Octavia’s broader facelift but also to build the most powerful version it has yet put on sale: the Skoda Octavia vRS 245.

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Fittingly, even this seems a little counter-intuitive. While the vRS may surreptitiously flaunt its relationship with the VW Golf GTI underneath, the car’s volume is founded on the diesel model – a patron of the same powertrain used by the Volkswagen Golf GTD.

So furnishing an Octavia with the VW Group’s criminally underused 237bhp bi-turbo diesel engine might have produced a more likely headliner.

Instead, the 245 gets the same 242bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine used by the Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance edition (the now ‘standard’ vRS gets the 228bhp variant) and is available as either a hatch or an estate.

If the format doesn’t completely make sense, it does at least inspire some hope in the end result. That’s because although the vRS has proven likeable in its own offbeat way, none of the preceding versions has ever managed to stake an authentic claim to its own USP, each being less a large Golf GTI and more a moderately fast Octavia.

Armed now with not only its sibling’s higher output but also the electromechanical front differential to properly modulate it, the vRS might at last make the move from fringe omega to real-world alpha.  

 

Skoda Octavia vRS 2013-2020 First drives