Long-term report: Racking up the miles in the Skoda Octavia vRS

Boy, things really have opened up at quite the rate, haven’t they? I’d become quite used to not really travelling all that much during lockdowns and stay-at-home periods, but now cross-country jaunts are becoming the norm once again.

That means the Skoda has been seeing an awful lot of use. It’s actually become something of a trusty friend and a reliable go-to as work has started to take me to more destinations than before. Luckily, it’s the absolute business on the motorway, where it’s perfectly refined and comfortable.

There continues to be an intermittent issue with the adaptive cruise control, which slows the car down as you try to pass another vehicle on the motorway. It’s frustratingly on and off, too, so it’s hard to predict when it might happen.

Skoda Octavia vRS
The Octavia has been a core part of Skoda’s line-up for some time

But apart from this small gremlin, it’s been plain sailing with the vRS. The digital dash is really clear and easy to read, plus I really like the inclusion of a short-cut button for the active assistance systems. For me, I normally need to switch the lane departure warning off – particularly when driving through the narrow lanes you find on the motorway when maintenance work is being performed – and being able to do this via one steering wheel-mounted button is exceptionally handy.

It’s also proved its worth during the recent fuel crisis. I’m now regularly seeing consumption figures in the mid-40s, which for a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine is pretty exceptional, in my opinion. Roll the clock back 10 years and efficiency from an engine of the same capacity would’ve been pretty unheard of. It means that, thankfully, my visits to the fuel station have been pretty infrequent, despite the longer journeys.

Skoda Octavia vRS
The large front grille is quite imposing

And while the performance it delivers might be pretty conservative compared with other performance cars on sale today, it’s more than enough to inject a bit of fun into a spirited drive. The engine is also really strong in the mid-range, so you can conduct in-gear overtakes with very little fuss.

The practicality the estate layout affords has been particularly useful, too. With a number of ongoing house renovation projects on the go, the Octavia has regularly been packed to the brim. Having a wide, square boot opening means that getting larger items in place is easy, though I do wish that the rear seats would go completely flat when you fold them down – a small ledge is left when they’re lowered and this can sometimes prove to be a hindrance when you’re trying to load longer things into the car, like planks of wood.

The main screen has been working well, too. I’ve spoken to a few other people who have had mixed experiences with the new display – which is similar to the one you’ll find on the latest Volkswagen Golf – but during my time with the car so far I’ve not had a single issue. In fact, during a recent trip to central London, I had to switch from my de facto use of Google Maps – which got itself into a tangle leaving the city – to the car’s native navigation. It’s actually the first time that I’d given it a crack, but it dealt with the task easily.

Skoda Octavia vRS
The prominent LED headlights really stand out

In fairness, you’d expect a satellite navigation system in a car costing over £32,000 to work first time, but I’ve usually got an inherent distrust of in-built systems. The Skoda’s got me out of the stressful centre of the city and it even had some usefully detailed illustrations of the buildings in the surrounding area for reference, which was nice.

The Octavia has also cracked the 10,000-mile mark, so it’s feeling pleasantly run-in now. I’m really trying my best to nail 50mpg, so I’ve been driving with my very lightest feet. It does feel that with each journey the vRS gets a little better, so I’m still keen to get out on the road with it even more.

  • Model: Skoda Octavia vRS Estate

  • Model as tested: vRS Estate

  • Price: £31,850

  • Price as tested: £32,285

  • Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol

  • Power: 242bhp

  • Torque: 370Nm

  • Max speed: 155mph

  • 0-60mph: 6.6 seconds

  • MPG: 40.4-35.3

  • Emissions: 159-177g/km CO2