What is it?
You’ve got to feel a little sorry for the Skoda Octavia vRS. It’s consummately loveable for its astonishing practicality allied to cut-price hot hatch thrills but, despite sharing hardware with the Volkswagen Golf GTI, it’s always had a whiff of ‘know your place’ about it in comparison with its illustrious VW stablemate.
Yes, it’s got the same MQB platform and engine, but with a Golf GTI you're allowed a Haldex electronic differential and adaptive dampers. You can't get either on the vRS. And the Skoda is heavier than the Golf, so it’ll be left behind in a drag race. Perhaps, then, this vRS 230 special edition is the Octavia’s moment to climb out from under the Golf’s shadow.
The 2.0 TSI engine gets an extra 10bhp (hence the 230 badging) thanks to a higher boost pressure and a freer-flowing sports exhaust. Crucially, though, it’s got the e-diff, and when combined these upgrades make it 10 seconds a lap quicker around the Nürburgring than a regular vRS.
The vRS’s chiselled looks remain, but with added menace courtesy of a gloss black finish on the grille, door mirrors, spoiler and exhaust trims. Red brake calipers and 19in alloys finish the effect.