The purchase of any diesel performance car comes with an admission that practical matters matter. Owners of such cars tend to be relatively circumspect.
For this reason, it would be unfair to criticise the latest Octavia vRS TDI for having an engine more effective than engaging, when that engine will happily deliver fuel economy no petrol-powered hot hatch could ever dream of matching. And it would be remiss to dismiss it on the basis that it doesn’t deliver the level of dynamic reward some of us might want when our favourite B-roads unfurl ahead of us.
The car is clearly intended to work best when driven at seven tenths, rather than nine, and that is exactly what it does. A more sophisticated driveline would improve the recipe, but the car’s fundamental balance of ride and handling is good enough to give the driver quiet satisfaction.
The hot-ish diesel Octavia feels very much like the kind of car one would miss once it was gone, which is precisely what’s likely to happen in the coming years as diesel is phased out. And that’s a shame, because evidently Skoda’s popular niche offering would still slip into most people’s lives very nicely indeed.