Road test: Skoda Octavia vRS Blackline
Skoda has produced an ultra exclusive version of its hot Octavia vRS model. But is it any good?
What is it?
It's a limited edition version of a much-loved Skoda. The Czech brand is making just 500 examples of the Octavia vRS Blackline available in the UK, and is using the humourous advertising campaign of "Sorry to the 62,640,500 of you who can't have one". The Blackline is available in hatchback and estate variants.
For 500 lucky buyers, they get £1,905-worth of equipment thrown in for no extra charge. This includes 18-inch alloy wheels painted in black, full black leather upholstery, sat-nav with DAB radio and rear parking sensors. Just three colours are available: Candy White, Magic Black pearl and Race Blue metallic - the latter two cost an additional £460 each.
What's under the bonnet?
Skoda has even taken the Blackline theme to the engine range. The only one that's on offer is the engine that drinks from the black pump – the 168bhp 2.0-litre diesel. Still, it covers the 0-60mph dash in 8.1 seconds, and provides 350Nm of torque. However, there is the choice of a six-speed manual or DSG automatic, and depending on the gearbox and bodystyle you choose, you'll be getting between 47.1mpg and 49.6mpg on the combined cycle and 149-159 in CO2 emissions.
What's the kit like?
The free goodies make an already pleasing level of specification just that bit more special. In standard vRS spec, the Octavia comes loaded with dual-zone air conditioning, a sports steering wheel, sports front seats, LED day-time running lights, fog lamps, lowered suspension, red brake callipers, twin exhausts and on the hatchback version, a boot spoiler. The hatchback Blackline costs £21,260 and the estate retails at £22,300. A DSG automatic gearbox costs an extra £1,195, but Skoda is currently offering the Blackline with no VAT, so prices start at a very tempting £17,834.
In hatchback form, the closest rivals are probably the Volkswagen Golf GTD and the Seat Leon FR. Despite all these cars having the same platform, the Octavia has a bigger body so there's more interior space. We can't think of a direct rival in terms of price for the vRS estate.
Is it any good?
It is. We had the estate version in Race Blue on test and it turned many heads, including those of the local constabulary – the vRS is a cop car favourite in Hampshire. It handles with aplomb, is fast and frugal and is very reasonably priced. The interior is starting feel its age a little, but, overall, the Octavia vRS is impressive.
The Autoblog verdict
Skoda could have done a lot more with these 500 cars and really gone to town with the "Blackline" thing. While some might say that's a shame, we're pleased they haven't. The Octavia vRS has always been about subtle performance and the Blackline just adds a bit extra sophistication to the package. The hatchback is a credible Volkswagen Golf GTD rival; in estate form, it's one of the best-packaged fast estates currently on sale in the UK.