A bit more beef under the bonnet is always a good thing and the third-generation Skoda Octavia vRS – ‘the thinking man’s’ quick saloon and estate – gets an even meatier motor to go with its fast-halo-car-styling. The best-looking Octavia vRS yet gets 217bhp for 154mph at the top and 62mph in 6.8 seconds. Quicker than the previous vRS; great, and now with improvements to the front differential and rear suspension to really handle that power. Sounds pretty awesome for around £22k.
For the price you pay and the car you get, it’s pretty hard to fault the previous, MKII Skoda Octavia vRS. Sure, the styling is a bit bulky, the front-end a bit wayward under full-bore thanks to a lack of LSD-style front-wheel drive power control, and perhaps some much faster drivers would complain of a basic rear suspension set up. But, the 200bhp turbocharged petrol engine is smooth and potent, the brakes and general stability well up to the task of back lane fun, and the space, fit and finish of things inside easily as good as you’re gonna get for the money. The coppers use them to catch quicker crims, so they must be good!
So how about this new, third-generation Octavia vRS in both saloon and estate forms, with even more petrol and diesel power? It’s better-looking all-round with its gnarly blacked-out front-end, bigger wheels and very sharp body styling lines. A little bit Audi, a little bit VW, but if you’re a fan of angular, understated Germanic design, there’s not much in the new vRS to turn you off. It’s always been about a quick car that doesn’t even think about sacrificing the practicalities – the saloon’s boot is vast; the estates load space simply cavernous – and now that the style is more consistent and the build quality very unlikely to have taken a step back from the previous car. So the MKIII vRS with its chassis improvement has all the makings of a pretty mega motor.
Two new VW group engines power the new vRS models; both good enough for the best-selling Golf. There’s a 2-litre, turbocharged petrol motor with 217bhp and a 2-litre, turbocharged diesel with 181bhp. The petrol is the quickest of the two, but the diesel ain’t no joke either with performance stats of 144mph and 62mph in 8.1 seconds. And you can spec each car with either a 6-speed manual gearbox or a 6-speed DSG. The DSG will be a little leaner on fuel but a little harder on the wallet when you first buy it.
Another boon with the new vRS models is a drop in fuel consumption; better by up to 19 per cent, with a start-stop system and brake energy regeneration now fitted as standard and doing their bit to trim fuel consumption.
It’s always been ‘sports’ suspension on the vRS cars and it’s the same lower and stiffer undercarriage for the new car; sitting 12mm lower than the standard Octavia. Out back there’s a newly developed multi-link axle and up front there’s the more usual – but tried and tested – MacPherson strut set up. Likely to make the most immediately noticeable improvements to the new vRS will be an electronic differential lock XDS system, controlled by the electronic stability control. This electronic system will very quickly and carefully monitor front wheel slip and power distribution and automatically tidy things up – generally by braking the slipping wheel – when powering through corners. These systems have come on in leaps in the last couple of years, so I expect it to work well here.
Sports-style alloy wheels now come in a choice of flavours and sizes; from 17- to 19-inch, and there’s the usual vRS dress-up goodies inside a blacked-out interior. New vRS-design front sports seats, a 3-spoke steering wheel with perforated leather, and leather for the gear stick and handbrake make for a sportier feel of things, and there’s a nicely modern colour screen in the dash.
A good haul of kit in a car that looks quick ‘n’ cool, and one that’s built for faster fun from the ground up. Not bad for around £25k, and it’s coming in the late summer.
By Dan Anslow