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The Golf GTi's introverted Skoda cousin. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.

The Golf GTi's introverted Skoda cousin
Skoda offers enthusiasts the vRS Octavia, complete with the turbocharged engine from the Golf GTi.

   



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Reviews homepage -> Skoda reviews

#03#Skoda is particularly proud of the new Octavia vRS, and so it should be. With 197bhp and a 149mph top speed, it's both the most powerful and the fastest production Skoda ever; a far cry from those rear-engined, air-cooled Skodas of a generation ago. And a reminder to me that I really should do my homework.

You see, I knew the Skoda Fabia vRS was a diesel hot hatch, so rather than check first, I just assumed the Octavia vRS would be more of the same (there is a diesel Octavia vRS on sale now - Ed - more info). I'm not a fan of the sound of the VW Group FSI engines; they sound a bit diesel-like on start up and gruff the rest of the time, so when I first started the Octavia vRS I didn't really notice it wasn't a diesel. That moment came a few seconds after leaving my driveway - a push on the accelerator pedal delivered a shove in the back that I just wasn't expecting at all. A look down at the dashboard confirmed a redline on the tacho far too high to be a diesel engine and the speedometer read to 160mph. Should have checked!

Not only does the Octavia vRS feel pretty quick if you think it's a diesel, but even when you've realised it's a 2-litre, 197bhp turbocharged petrol FSI engine, it still feels very potent; and very willing too with little discernible turbo lag. So, the Octavia vRS is the most powerful and fastest Skoda ever, but it still comes with a Skoda value-for-money price. Just £17,525 on-the-road for a car that does 149mph, or more than £3,000 cheaper than the entry-level five-door Golf GTi. Even loaded up with toys as our test car was (with 18-inch alloys, colour screen satnav, Xenon lights and dual-zone climate control contributing to the £3,000 price of options), this car still appears to be excellent value and was much admired by all, both inside and out. Even in standard form the Octavia vRS comes with 17-inch alloys, single-zone air conditioning, a 6 CD autochanger, half leather sports seats and so on.

Anyone familiar with recent VWs such as the Golf, Jetta and Passat will feel instantly at home; the instrument panel architecture is shared by all, even the trip computer works in the same way. Start the engine and that feeling of déjà vu continues; as mentioned earlier, the Octavia vRS uses the VW Group FSI technology that is said to combine the best attributes of petrol and diesel engines. Drive off down the road and the Octavia vRS throws out a big reminder that this is no common or garden VW Group mid range car. It has performance - in spades. So quick was the Octavia vRS, and more to the point, so accessible was the performance that I had to jump back into my own 220bhp road car for a reality check. It felt a lot quicker than my car; in reality there probably wasn't much in it, but the Skoda was more willing to play at being the hot-rod. Maybe the 207lb.ft of torque at a low 1800rpm (lower than most turbocharged cars are capable of) is the reason for this; along with the maximum 197bhp being available between 5100 and 6000rpm.

The sports suspension (lowered 12mm from the cooking Octavia models) is firm, almost too firm, but helps endow the vRS with excellent body control. Give the Octavia full welly and there is a hint of torque steer - just enough to remind the driver which wheels are the driven pair - and very little wheel spin, no doubt all down to the vehicle's electronics reining in such hooliganism. Push really hard, and I mean REALLY hard, and the brakes start to come into question. Big ventilated front discs and those Skoda-green vRS calipers should be up to the job, but when using that last nth of performance they struggle to slow the car down. In normal and even in brisk use they are beyond reproach, but I'm not sure I'd want to do a track day on them; the Octavia vRS can reach some very significant speeds between corners and needs a lot of slowing down.

#p##01# The sports seats, standard in the vRS, and part leather covered, are supremely comfortable and give good side support. Just as well given the grip the 18-inch wheels and tyres can generate in the dry. But like all VW Group cars I've driven in recent times on this platform, perceived refinement dropped a couple of points due to road noise. In some ways the Octavia is worse than the Passat and Jetta, maybe due to firmer suspension and the optional 18-inch wheels, maybe because it's the hatchback amongst saloons, but at any speed above 50mph road noise becomes the dominant intrusion.

Being a hatchback, the Skoda Octavia not only plays the price card against the Jetta and Passat, it also gets to play the practicality card. The boot is simply cavernous, holding 560 litres with the rear seat in place (just 20 litres less than the Octavia Estate) and almost removal lorry-like 1350 litres with the rear seat (which of course splits 1/3-2/3) folded. Rear leg room was sufficient enough that none of my passengers complained; other than we were going too fast of course... The performance of this car so dominates everything, you're always going faster than you think, and usually it's very fast indeed.

Official figures show the Octavia vRS records a combined fuel economy of 35.8mpg. This is possible, in fact I regularly had the trip computer registering higher than this. But floor the throttle for a few seconds and watch that average drop like a stone. Even two hundred miles into a tank of fuel the average will drop by whole mpg in a few seconds. Use the performance all the time and I seriously doubt you'd better 20mpg; drive like an old man and you might get 40mpg, but the vRS ethos would have been wasted on you.

#p##06# The Octavia vRS is available in both hatchback form, as tested, or as an estate at an extra £850 if you need that little bit more luggage space, or somewhere to put the dogs. At the price, there are few subtle hatches that can touch it for the performance, except perhaps for the new diesel version...
Skoda Octavia UK range overview

- Skoda Octavia Ambiente 1.6 FSI 115bhp : £12,990
- Skoda Octavia Ambiente 1.6 FSI 115bhp Tip : £13,990
- Skoda Octavia Ambiente 1.9 TDI PD 105bhp DSG : £15,475
- Skoda Octavia Ambiente 1.9 TDI PD 105bhp : £14,450
- Skoda Octavia Ambiente 2.0 FSI 150bhp : £14,335
- Skoda Octavia Ambiente 2.0 FSI 150bhp Tip : £15,375
- Skoda Octavia Ambiente 2.0 TDI PD 140bhp DSG : £16,950
- Skoda Octavia Ambiente 2.0 TDI PD 140bhp : £15,925
- Skoda Octavia Classic 1.4 16V 75bhp : £10,990
- Skoda Octavia Classic 1.6 FSI 115bhp : £11,990
- Skoda Octavia Classic 1.9 TDI PD 105bhp DSG : £14,475
- Skoda Octavia Classic 1.9 TDI PD 105bhp : £13,450
- Skoda Octavia Elegance 1.6 FSI 115bhp : £13,990
- Skoda Octavia Elegance 1.6 FSI 115bhp Tip : £14,990
- Skoda Octavia Elegance 1.9 TDI PD 105bhp DSG : £16,475
- Skoda Octavia Elegance 1.9 TDI PD 105bhp : £15,450
- Skoda Octavia Elegance 2.0 FSI 150bhp : £15,335
- Skoda Octavia Elegance 2.0 FSI 150bhp Tip : £16,375
- Skoda Octavia Elegance 2.0 TDI PD 140bhp DSG : £17,950
- Skoda Octavia Elegance 2.0 TDI PD 140bhp : £16,925
- Skoda Octavia L&K 1.6 FSI 115bhp : £15,475
- Skoda Octavia L&K 1.6 FSI 115bhp Tip : £16,475
- Skoda Octavia L&K 1.9 TDI PD 105bhp : £16,935
- Skoda Octavia L&K 1.9 TDI PD 105bhp DSG : £17,960
- Skoda Octavia L&K 2.0 FSI 150bhp : £16,820
- Skoda Octavia L&K 2.0 FSI 150bhp Tip : £17,860
- Skoda Octavia L&K 2.0 TDI PD 140bhp : £18,410
- Skoda Octavia L&K 2.0 TDI PD 140bhp DSG : £19,435
- Skoda Octavia Sport 2.0 FSI 150bhp : £15,800
- Skoda Octavia Sport 2.0 TDI PD 140bhp : £17,390
- Skoda Octavia Sport 2.0 TDI PD 140bhp DSG : £18,415
- Skoda Octavia vRS 2.0 TDI PD 170bhp : £18,370
- Skoda Octavia vRS 2.0T FSI 200bhp : £17,525

Trevor Nicosia - 5 Sep 2006



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2006 Skoda Octavia vRS specifications: (petrol hatch)
Price: £17,525 on-the-road (test car was fitted with optional extra totalling nearly £3,000).
0-62mph: 7.3 seconds
Top speed: 149mph
Combined economy: 35.8mpg
Emissions: 190g/km
Kerb weight: 1470kg

2006 Skoda Octavia vRS. Image by Trevor Nicosia.2006 Skoda Octavia vRS. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2006 Skoda Octavia vRS. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2006 Skoda Octavia vRS. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2006 Skoda Octavia vRS. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.

2006 Skoda Octavia vRS. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2006 Skoda Octavia vRS. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.   


2006 Skoda Octavia vRS. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2006 Skoda Octavia vRS. Image by Trevor Nicosia.
 

2006 Skoda Octavia vRS. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2006 Skoda Octavia vRS. Image by Trevor Nicosia.
 

2006 Skoda Octavia vRS. Image by Trevor Nicosia.
 

2006 Skoda Octavia vRS. Image by Trevor Nicosia.
 

2006 Skoda Octavia vRS. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2006 Skoda Octavia vRS. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2006 Skoda Octavia vRS. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 






 

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