What is it?
We’re already plenty familiar with this generation of Octavia vRS. It’s been on sale since 2013, after all, and is entering its twilight years after a round of updates in 2017.
Theoretically, it remains Skoda’s most appealing offering to the keen driver: we say theoretically, because Skoda still refuses to ‘vRS-ify’ the flagship 276bhp, four-wheel drive Superb, so, while it is faster than the Octavia, it remains a less engaging steer. The Czech brand will also now sell you the Kodiaq SUV in its sportiest trim line, if such a thing is your cuppa.
But the wrinkles are starting to show, particularly when the Octavia hatchback finds itself lined up with fresher-faced, faster and more thrilling alternatives like the Honda Civic Type R. That’s why Skoda is upping the value stakes with what can be considered a run-out special - the vRS Challenge - given that an all-new Octavia is due before the year is out.
Don’t make the mistake of hearing ‘Challenge’ and think about hardcore special edition Ferraris of yesteryear, however. This petrol-only special is more a case of bunging in the most popular options, raising the asking price by a bit and pointing out how much you now get for your money.
So, in comes niceties such as heated, electric and Alcantara trimmed vRS sports seats, the DCC adaptive suspension, parking sensors, a sports exhaust and 19in wheels. Skoda claims that lot would set you back £4500 if you ticked the boxes on a standard vRS yourself. Instead, this is £2,500 more than a stock one.
We've driven the estate here (another £1,200) and one fitted with the optional seven-speed DSG gearbox (another £1,070). Skoda can’t really be thought of as the VW Group’s value brand at this end of the market…
(Note - no, your eyes haven't deceived you - time constraints and a lack of press images meant we've had to use images of the hatchback for this piece).