We’ve spent the last week driving around in the current Skoda Octavia vRS wagon, which was drafted in to cart around the Sunday Service paraphernalia, the suggestively large EnduroKA tool box and all the other odds and ends required to keep the good ship PH sailing. It’s an unforgiving task, but the big Skoda does it consummately and with the kicker of genuine pace. We have to give it back today, and we don’t want to - which is virtually the only marker of quality that actually means anything.
As it always does, the car’s departure has sent us burrowing into the classified treasure chest to discover what’s what. Given its longevity and reputation for value, it’s entirely unsurprisingly to find the cheapest Mk1 vRS-badged Octavia barely edges into four figures, despite being described as a “good, reliable runner” that’s “still a joy to drive”. Really though, you want a Mk2 - because then you get 200hp from a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine.
That’s 45hp short of the latest model, which ought to mean that today’s 76,000-mile-old Spotted should offer similarly brisk performance along with the same extensive list of practical traits. It’s a hatch, rather than estate, but being a Skoda which shares its underpinnings with the Mk5 Golf GTI, it can still swallow lots of luggage, easily return miles per gallons in the mid-thirties and do all that while carrying its passengers in comfort and without fuss. The Mk2 handled pretty sweetly too, with a GTI-like eagerness that was only slightly softened to give the Skoda a more forgiving character.
It’s probably not too controversial to suggest that the Mk2 Octavia vRS was bought for their broader usability than any specific fun factor, which would help to explain why so many came with a DSG gearbox. Opting for this over the manual had no impact on listed performance, but we’re still pleased to report that today’s Spotted comes with three pedals. The six-speed ‘box was slick in its day and since vRSs were engineered with the ability to tow, it’s tough, too.
The seller also reveals that the car was formerly owned by a policeman; less compelling than a service history perhaps, but further evidence of the Octavia’s no-nonsense credentials. It still looks the part, too, in healthy-looking red and on clean 17-inch alloys. Most importantly of all, for a smidge less than £5k, it remains a well-rounded and un-boring solution for shifting your possessions around.
SPECIFICATIONS - SKODA OCTAVIA VRS
Engine: 1,984cc 4-cyl inline petrol
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Power (hp): 200@5,100rpm
Torque (lb ft): 207@1,800-5,000rpm
First registered: 2007
Recorded mileage: 79,000
Price new: £20,440
Price now: £4,990
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