in the vRS form enjoyed by many PHers over the years the proven mix of practicality, performance and value for money it's anything but. We should know having run the short-lived Octavia vRS230 for a very enjoyable six months and 15,000 miles. Boxes for a fast car to fit in with busy lives very much ticked.
Hang on though - short-lived? Well, yes. The 230 we ran wasn't in the range long but the whole Octavia line-up has been updated and with it the vRS versions. Which is what we're driving here. So what exactly has changed?
A face for radio
Let's get the elephant in the room out of the way first shall we? The updated vRS is, of course, based on the recently facelifted Octavia, complete with its 'overhauled' styling. Sorry to say but the new look does the car few favours; where the old car was actually very well proportioned, the new car is a little more challenging in appearance. In fairness, the vRS model, with it's more aggressive bodykit, does a good job of improving this, but still I don't think many people will be accusing the car of being better looking than its predecessor.
The only other point to note is that the rear track has been increased by 30mm, which was apparently for aesthetics but it brought about a slight increase in stability too.
Business as usual
So, aside from the changes the Octavia vRS remains largely the same. It is still available as either a hatch or an estate, with either a diesel or petrol engine, available with a six-speed DSG or a manual gearbox. For the purposes of comparison to our beloved long termer we will focus from here on in on the 2.0 TSI petrol manual. Happily this also happens to be the best-seller too.
For the most part the way that the car drives brings no surprises. It is still comfortable, well-judged and very pleasant indeed. However, being a vRS it is meant to have the nuts thrashed off it from time to time, so let's stop talking about niceties and get to that bit!
Diff of opinion
This isn't helped by the lack of the VAQ locking 'diff' on the front axle and much appreciated on our vRS long-termer. The more familiar brake-nibbling ESP-based simulation of its torque distribution is your lot and this robs the car of the dynamism and interaction we enjoyed so much. As experienced in other VAQ-equipped cars like the SEAT Leon Cupra and Golf GTI Performance, the system rewards a lead foot by pulling the car into the corner and distributing the traction to where it can work rather than just understeering out of it.
Moving on, as before there are numerous configurable options on the car, with both pre-set modes and an Individual mode that can be adjusted to your preferences. Best advice is to avoid the Sport steering mode as it serves only to add unnecessary weight and remove some feel.
the vRS245, clue in the title being this has a bit more power still and that VAQ front axle. Due later this year it also gets the latest seven-speed DSG, bringing it closer to the updated hot Golf range and offering a big step up from both the previous Octavia vRS models and this 'standard' version of the updated car.
If you like the vRS formula but were looking for a significant step-up in this updated version this would seem to be the one to go for. Something we hope to be able to confirm once we've driven it!
SKODA OCTAVIA VRS PETROL (HATCHBACK)
Engine: 1,984cc four-cyl turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual/6-speed dual-clutch auto (DSG), front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 230@4,700-6,200rpm
Torque (lb ft): 258@1,500-4,600rpm
0-62mph: 6.7sec (DSG 6.8sec)
Top speed: 155mph
Weight: 1,420kg (DSG 1,440kg, both with driver)
MPG: 43.5mpg (DSG 42.8mpg, both NEDC combined)
CO2: 142g/km (DSG 149g/km)
Price: £25,185 (£26,575 DSG)