The Skoda Octavia isn’t the Czech car maker’s biggest-selling car globally for nothing. Good looking, spacious, well-equipped and fantastic value for money, it’s hard to fault.
Then to cap it all, the Octavia is also available in sport vRS spec – a hidden gem of a car if ever there was one.
Available as a hatchback or estate, I tested the vRS 230 hatch, priced from £26,580. Looking seriously cool in Meteor Grey, it boasts crisp, smart lines and more than a hint of aggression thanks to an all-black ensemble of 19-inch ‘Xtreme’ allow wheels, rear spoiler, door mirrors, front grille and exhaust pipes, plus reasonably discreet ‘vRS’ badging.
Inside, there are red stripes and multi-colour ‘vRS’ branding on the leather sports seats, while extra kit includes sat-nav and a lap timer.
The interior is well put together and comfortable with good visibility, but it’s the overall space in the front and back that’s remarkable The same can be said for the boot which boasts 590 litres, or a massive 1,580 litres, with the rear seats folded. Needless to say, the estate version have van-like proportions.
Under the bonnet, there’s an extra 10bhp under the bonnet, compared to a standard vRS, with the ‘230’ referring to the 230PS metric engine horsepower output of the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, also seen in the VW Golf GTI no less.
All that power (227bhp if you prefer) translates into 0-62mph in just 6.7 seconds and a top speed of 155mph.
Fire her up, slip it into gear and drive off, and it’s clear that this is no ordinary car. Not only does it seem faster than the official figures claim, but that glorious exhaust note is something to behold.
For supreme traction you should move up to the 4×4 version, but frankly the electro-mechanical front locking differential does a great job on the 230 at taming all those horses.
Press the ‘vRS’ button on the centre console and you’re also able to adjust certain engine, transmission and handling characteristics, depending on the mode selected.
My car was fitted with a slick 6-speed manual gearbox, but a superb DSG auto is also available if you just want to concentrate on the driving. And you might want to do just that because the vRS 230 is entertaining to drive. Despite the fact that it’s the biggest ‘hot hatch’ out there, it handles superbly and enjoys being hustled, though some may find the ride a little firm.
With a claimed 45.4mpg, a maximum 5-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating and bags of space, the Octavia makes complete sense as a practical everyday car that can also thrill.
And as if all that isn’t good enough, the Octavia has received a series of enhancements for spring 2017, including a slightly new look and improved technology.
The most obvious changes are to the car’s styling. At the front, the headlights feature full-LED technology (with adaptive front headlights optional), plus there’s a wider grille and air inlets, and a redesigned bumper. At the rear, there are new LED tail lights.
Inside, there are new infotainment systems – the top-of-the-range Columbus version comes with a 9.2-inch touch-screen display and includes Wi-Fi hotspot and Phonebox inductive smartphone charging, while Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, MirrorLink and SmartGate are all standard.
And finally for 2017, the 227bhp engine is now standard, so that extra power can be enjoyed by all vRS customers.
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