The original Skoda Octavia vRS was the icing on the cake of Skoda’s elevation into respectable mainstream motoring. It arrived in 2001, sporting a 180hp version of the VW Group’s then-ubiquitous 1.8-litre turbocharged 20-valve four-cylinder engine, and a price tag of just £15,000. It was an instant cult hit, helped by a sprinkling of motorsport magic from a semi-successful WRC programme.
A second iteration came along in 2005, with more power (in petrol form at least) thanks a 200hp 2.0-litre TFSI engine shared with the Mk5 Golf GTI. There was also a diesel for the first time – a gruff but torquey 170hp 2.0-litre unit – and a massive boot as well as the option of a DSG twin-clutch gearbox.
Skoda repeated the formula with the Mk3 in 2013, adding a little more power (between 230 and 245hp for the petrol models) and the option of four-wheel drive. A fourth version arrived in 2020, but this time the diesel option was dropped in favour of plug-in hybrid power.
But for all the model’s evolution over the years, it remains a truly compelling blend of proper hot hatch performance, decent value for money and cavernous interior space.