What is it?
A grey Skoda. Not the most tantalising of propositions. But this one has the same 242bhp engine and electronic locking differential as the Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance, making it the most powerful Octavia to have made production yet. My colleagues have already driven the model in estate form and with optional dynamic chassis control (DCC) suspension but, this time, we’re in a hatch suspended on the vRS’s standard dampers, which, perhaps surprisingly, come fitted to 95% of vRSs.
Experience suggests that this less practical, less adjustable specification will fall short of offering the USP its more broadly talented sibling flaunts. But consider this: the hatch costs £1200 less than the estate and not opting for DCC saves £850, which equates to a sum hefty enough to represent 7% of the car’s £27,595 starting price. What you’re looking at here, then, could well be the best-value (read: most Skoda) vRS 245 available. The bargainist rocket on sale, perhaps?
Take a look at the car’s lengthy standard specifications list, which is far too long to show in full here, and that theory stands strong. Compared with the already generously equipped regular vRS, the 245 gains 19in gloss black wheels as standard (an inch larger than the vRS's) and Alcantara-wrapped sports seats, which also come with electric adjustability as standard. A colour multifunction trip computer, complete with a lap timer (how very un-Skoda), is added to the infotainment armoury, which is centred around an Amundsen 8in satellite navigation system offering integrated wi-fi.
All this stuff matters in the 245 because it ensures the model’s price will continue to give salesmen of less liberally furnished rivals a headache. But what will really grab the attention of prospective buyers is the car’s mix of performance and space. Volkswagen’s familiar 2.0-litre four-pot TSI can charge the vRS 245 from zero to 62mph in 6.4sec,which is only two-tenths off that of the £29,680 Golf GTI Performance, yet boot space in the hatch remains a class-leading 590 litres with the seats up and 1580 litres with the back bench down.
On paper, then, there’s little reason for someone who can only afford to purchase an option-light vRS 245 hatch to feel jealous of another with a few additional extras. But does that ring true on the open road? Only one way to find out…