Skoda Octavia 2.0TSi 220PS vRS Hatchback
By Tim Barnes-Clay, Motoring Journalist
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The spacious, reliable, Skoda Octavia has always been the most unrelentingly sensible of family cars. But add a ‘vRS’ badge to the rear and it undergoes a metamorphosis.
The standard Octavia isn’t unappealing, but it’s bland enough to merge into the background. The extended bumpers, black trim and boot spoiler on the vRS hike it just far enough beyond anonymity to let you know it’s something a bit sexy. It’s gritty without being boy-racer ‘chav’.
The cabin is largely benchmark Skoda fare, so it’s hardly electrifying in there. But everything falls readily to hand and it’s, on the whole, well made. It is made livelier, though, by some tremendously supportive sports seats.
The 2.0 TSi turbo-engined Octavia vRS, on review here, produces 218bhp and 258lb/ft of torque. While identical to the closely- associated VW Golf GTi, those figures are quite a way behind the Ford Focus ST and SEAT Leon Cupra.
Not that it’s a concern; 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds and a top speed of 154mph are rousing enough. And it’s a usefully lithe engine that can buzz along in a high gear, then produce brawny thrust without having to change down a cog or two.
So, as any good hot-hatch should be, the Octavia vRS is talented at covering tarmac quickly. Where some of its competitors feed back through the steering and chassis, the vRS doesn’t communicate that much. But what it does declare is meaningful and said on cue. Add in solid stability and its unperturbed manner gives you confidence.
Around town, there’s little extra weight in the steering than lesser Octavias, and even on low-profile 18-inchers, the ride is cool, calm and collected.
Step on the gas and the turbo engine emits a pleasingly hard-edged snarl. In early versions of this third-generation vRS, the clamour settled down when cruising. But for 2014, Skoda added a sound pipe that channels noise from the engine into the cabin.
The fact the Octavia is one of the most popular taxi-cabs in the UK tells you all you need to know. Rear seat space betters many motors from the class above and the hatchback has a truly mammoth 590 litre boot.
It will also do 45.6mpg, though if that’s not decent enough for you, you could always get the north of 60mpg oil-burner. And if you really need an even bigger boot, get the estate.
The vRS comes with Bluetooth, DAB radio, dual-zone aircon and rear parking sensors as standard. Spec-for-spec, the SEAT Leon Cupra is faster, but a couple of grand more expensive. The Volkswagen Golf GTi offers a near-perfect blend of fun and practicality for around £2,000 more than the vRS.
There are plenty of good family cars that are rapid and fulfilling to drive. If you want those merits in a car that costs under £25,000, then the Skoda Octavia vRS unifies them better than any other motor. That’s still a lot of wonga though – and a used version will probably suit your pocket better.
PROS ‘N’ CONS
- Sporty √
- Practical √
- Kit √
- Boot √
- Getting pricey X
- Max speed: 154 mph
- 0-62 mph: 6.8 secs
- Combined mpg: 45.6
- Engine: 1984 cc 4 cylinder 16v turbocharged petrol
- power (bhp): 218
- torque (Ib.ft): 258
- CO2: 142 g/km
- Price: £23,755