First drive: Skoda Octavia vRS


First drive: Skoda octavia vRS

AOL Cars was offered the special opportunity to drive a brand new car up the hill at the Goodwood Festival of Speed – and it just happened to be Skoda's racy new Octavia vRS

What is it?

Leagues of vRS fans around the UK are anxious to hear whether the new hot Octavia is any good or not. There are thousands of them, too – Skoda's range of sporty cars (badged vRS) have a very large and loyal following in this country. And arguably the one that attracts the most ardent fans is the Octavia. This MkIII version is totally new and comes in a variety of flavours thanks to two body styles, a couple of engine choices and a pair of transmission options.

What's under the bonnet?

Like the previous version, the all-new Octavia vRS comes in both petrol and diesel varieties. The 2.0-litre TSI is the same turbocharged petrol unit you'd find under the bonnet of the new Volkswagen Golf GTI if you were to look. It gives an entertaining 217bhp and 350Nm of torque, hits an impressive 154mph and gets to 60mph in 6.6 seconds. Despite this nice turn of speed, the vRS returns 142g/km of CO2 and 45.6mpg on the combined cycle.
Opt for the 2.0-litre diesel version and you'll swap 217bhp for a still-pleasurable 181bhp. The derv-powered vRS poaches the Golf GTD's engine and serves up 380Nm of torque and gets to 60mph a shade slower than the vRS petrol at 7.8 seconds – but the good news is that the Octavia vRS manages 61.4mpg and emits just 119g/km of CO2. You can also choose between a slick six-speed manual or six-speed DSG.

What's the spec like?

To make sure you don't mistake it for a humdrum Octavia eco diesel, Skoda has fitted it with fetching sporty bumpers, a rear spoiler, anthracite 18-inch alloys, bi-Xenon headlamps, LED rear lights and dropped the vRS's suspension by 12mm (13mm with the Estate) and stiffened it up a tad. There's an array of body colours too – from traditional Race Blue metallic to mean Meteor Grey. Prices range from £22,795 for the 2.0-litre TSI hatchback and rise to £25,720 for the 2.0-litre TDI DSG Estate.

Any rivals?

There are loads, but the most important is probably the Ford Focus ST. It may have more power but the Focus comes in hatchback and estate versions (from £21,995 and £23,095 respectively) meaning it's a like-for-like rival. There's also the rather-more pricy new Golf GTI and the cheaper but smaller Seat Leon FR.

Skoda Octavia vRS

Skoda Octavia vRS

What it's like to drive?

We had the chance to drive the 2.0-litre petrol up the hill on the Sunday of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, and it's hard to come up with a comprehensive road test of it. But in our very short drive we were impressed. Skoda has fitted the sporty Octavia with an electronic differential lock called XDS to aid fast cornering, a multi-link rear axle and progressive steering – and it makes for a fun ride. It's a grippy and responsive thing that's on the money in terms of fun, speed and value.

The AOL Cars verdict

Our short stint behind the wheel at Goodwood has got us itching to try out the new Octavia vRS for a longer period of time. Like the rest of the range, the Octavia is a well-built car with a classy character rarely seen on Skodas before. And now the vRS adds a racy touch to the mix. For some the vRS won't be hardcore enough, but we're pretty sure the leagues of hot Skoda fans will be tempted to splash out on this new one.

The knowledge

Model: Skoda Octavia vRS 2.0 TSI DSG
Price: £24,185
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, petrol
Power: 217bhp, 350Nm
Max speed: 154mph
0-62mph: 6.6 seconds
MPG: 45.6mpg (combined)
Emissions: 142g/km CO2