The vRS badge means different things depending on which variant you’re talking about. However, the line-up helpfully mirrors that of VW’s hot Golfs.
The petrol Octavia vRS uses the same 242bhp 2.0-litre TSI as the Golf GTI; the plug-in hybrid Golf GTE donates its 1.4-litre TSI and electric motor to the Octavia vRS iV, to deliver the same 242bhp as the pure petrol, albeit achieved differently; and the 197bhp 2.0-litre TDI tested here is shared with the Golf GTD.
As well as generating 16bhp more than the unit it replaces, this new Evo turbo diesel also benefits from VW’s latest selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology, known as ‘twin dosing’. AdBlue is injected upstream of two SCR catalytic converters arranged in series, with the claimed result that NOx emissions are 80% lower.
What makes the Octavia vRS TDI unique from its VW GTD counterpart, and from the petrol-powered vRS models, is that it is available with a clutch-based four-wheel drive system, which gives the car an added element of usability and an undeniable USP. However, our test car goes without rear driveshafts – its powertrain is solely front drive – and is equipped with the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox that is the only transmission option available. Anybody who specifically wants a manual gearbox will need to turn their attention to the petrol vRS, or to Ford’s 187bhp Focus ST diesel.
As for its chassis, the Octavia vRS once again pairs Golf GTI hardware with a longer wheelbase, which has in the past successfully injected control and agility into the car’s practicality-minded brief. The standard-fit vRS-specific passive suspension sets the body 15mm lower than the regular Octavia, though for only £945 it’s likely most owners will go for the optional Dynamic Chassis Control, which offers numerous damper settings selectable via the cabin’s central touchscreen. However, once again, our test car keeps things basic.
The steering rack has also been quickened, from 2.7 turns between locks in the regular car to 2.1 for all vRS models. What this front-driven TDI version does not get – but what the TSI model does get and what the four-wheel-drive TDI doesn’t need – is any form of limited-slip differential. The TDI also uses marginally smaller brakes than the TSI, though both cars are fitted with striking 19in alloys.
Stylistically speaking, the new Octavia builds on the Skoda’s increasingly menacing exterior design for vRS models. There are copious angles, elements of gloss-black trim, full LED headlights and, more fundamentally, the wider rear track width than standard, which adds attitude. You might even begin to question just how much Q-car appeal the Octavia vRS today holds.