What is it?
It’s tricky to shake the feeling that viewing this diesel-powered, four-wheel-drive Skoda Octavia vRS through a traditional hot hatchback lens would be doing it something of a disservice. After all, there isn’t a huge amount about its recipe that seems capable of making fans of the Ford Focus ST or Renault Mégane RS sit up and pay attention.
Not only is it a fair bit bigger (and heavier) than those two titans of hot-hatchery, but with 197bhp on tap, it might also appear to be a touch under-endowed in the power stakes. Of course, 295lb ft of torque is still incredibly healthy, but oil-burning four-cylinder engines have never been the easiest powerplants to get excited about - particularly when paired with a self-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
And yet, ever since the first Octavia vRS TDI appeared in the mid-2000s, the car has carved out a fairly successful niche for itself. It’s a family-friendly performance hatch for the driver who is firmly rooted in the real world. Yes, it’s reasonably swift, but it’s also practical, economical and pretty comfortable.
This four-wheel-drive version adds a healthy additional dose of all-weather usability into the mix. It can be yours for £33,745 if you opt for a hatchback like this one, or £34,975 if you go for the boxier estate.