I used to own a second-generation Skoda Octavia vRS. All too briefly. It’s one of three cars I regret selling.
During that time, I got to drive the then-new third-gen Octavia vRS and, to be honest, it left me a little cold. I thought the electric steering was lifeless and the noise too synthetic. But the latest Skoda Octavia vRS 230 makes much more sense to me.
The vRS 230 gets the same suite of upgrades as a Performance Pack-equipped Golf GTi. So there’s an extra 10bhp – up to 227bhp – bigger brakes, a rortier exhaust, unique 19in wheels and trim details and an electro-mechanical limited-slip differential.
You have to concentrate hard to notice the extra power – the 0-62mph time improves by just 0.1secs – but it’s an eager performer regardless, pulling strongly from any point in the rev range. Produces an amusing burble, too. It’s docile around town and the six-speed manual gearbox has a light, precise shift.
Equally, the LSD doesn’t have the transformative effect you expect on the Octavia’s ability to cover ground at speed. Ironically it’s most useful when coming out of slow corners, putting the power down more effectively. What’s more noticeably is that the steering feels more connected, more engaging than in the standard vRS.
Switching into vRS mode quickens the throttle, hardens the exhaust note and adds heft to the steering, or you can set the elements to your preferred parameters in Individual mode. Though the default setting is a perfectly good compromise.
The vRS 230 gets some extra kit over the standard car’s generous offering, including touchscreen satnav and heated leather seats. Material quality isn’t quite up to Golf standards, but it is beautifully made and hugely spacious.
The Octavia vRS 230 is an appreciable improvement over the standard car, making the £2,500 premium well worth it as it’s still fantastic value. In the wider hot hatch context, it’s satisfying to drive where others are thrilling, but it’s so much better than the opposition as an everyday prospect that it makes a compelling case for itself.
Skoda Octavia 2.0 TSi vRS 230
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol
Transmission: 6-speed manual; front-wheel-drive
Power/Torque: 227bhp; 258lb/ft
Economy/Emissions: 45.6mpg; 142g/km
Top speed: 155mph
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By Only Motors