What's the used Skoda Octavia vRS hatchback like?
It may not be completely accurate to say that the Skoda Octavia vRS is just a Golf GTI in more practical and better-value clothing, but it’s close enough to make most car buyers and driving enthusiasts sit up and take notice.
For starters, the Octavia vRS has always fulfilled the same functions in its hot hatch class as the base car has in the family car sector: it offers great value, generous amounts of interior room and decent practicality all wrapped up in a stylish and competitive package. Its forte is its size, of course, which borders on that of the cars from one class above. It means the vRS, which is lower than the standard car and has a wider track, can offer that generous space and utility as well as all the hot hatch pace and agility your heart could desire.
It can offer a lot more, besides. Those that bought it new could choose between petrol and diesel engines. They could have had either the standard front-wheel drive or the whole-hog four-wheel drive. They could have chosen the regular five-door hatchback or an even more capacious estate version. They could have had a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, and there was even the option of adaptive dampers.
After all that it comes as quite a shock to discover that there is only the one trim level, and it offers sporty styling, bespoke sports seats and LED headlights. There’s also an Amundsen touchscreen, cruise control, heated seats, dual-zone climate control, parking sensors, auto wipers and a wi-fi hotspot. Other standard safety features include lane keep assist, autonomous emergency braking, stability control, hill-hold assist, tyre pressure monitoring which alerts you to a slow puncture, and a system that automatically brakes the car in the immediate aftermath of a collision to avoid a second impact.
And it can shift, too, with the latest petrol-engined version of the car sharing its 242bhp 2.0-litre unit with the Performance edition of the Golf GTI. With this lovely engine under the bonnet, the vRS is capable of polishing off the 0 to 62mph sprint in just 6.6 seconds and going on swiftly to a top speed of 155mph. Indeed even if you choose the lesser 2.0 230 version, also shared with the hot Golf, you won’t be far off those figures. Opt for the diesel version and you’ll find the VW Group’s 181bhp 2.0-litre engine can still push the vRS along at a fair lick, along with some expected improvements in fuel economy.
Approach a bend and you’ll be pleased it shares so much with the Golf GTI. It’s keen to turn in to bends, and its steering is pleasingly precise. Providing you're not sending all its power through the front wheels, there’s plenty of grip, too, and it handles with sporting aplomb. The 2.0 245 vRS even gets a limited-slip differential, the better to apportion its power in a corner taken quickly, and it drives even more nicely as a result. You'll be equally pleased by the ride comfort, as the vRS is a plaint car that rides well in any of its switchable modes. It’s firm, but never uncomfortable, and it feels settled over sharp ruts and potholes and tied down over undulating roads. The petrol-engined cars are remarkably refined, as well, especially when driven gently, and there’s not much in the way of wind and road noise to ruffle the feathers. True, put your foot down and there’s a nice sporty rasp, but on the whole the interior of the vRS is a pleasant place to spend time.
Inside is an excellent driving position, electrically adjustable in the seat and steering wheel, with good visibility. The sportier seats are comfortable and supportive, and remain so even on longer journeys. The dashboard and surrounding areas are nicely laid out, and the instruments easy to read. Some of the materials around the lower parts of the cabin and around the seat bases feel more durable than upmarket, but the plastics in more prominent areas are textured and pleasant to the touch. The switches are nicely damped, too.
It’s in the area of space that the Octavia excels. Space up front is plentiful, and there are several useful storage areas. Meanwhile, in the rear the Octavia offers more of it than any other hot hatch, with plenty of space and the ability to seat a tall passenger behind a tall driver. It can even carry three in relative comfort for quite some time, despite a large central transmission tunnel, and that’s more than can be said for not only all the cars in this class but some from the size category above it. The boot in the hatchback is large and usefully shaped, better than nearly all of its rivals, while the one in the estate version is simply huge.
Find a used Skoda Octavia vRS in the What Car? Classifieds here