Skoda Octavia vRS: One for those in the know

The Skoda Octavia is a great car -- it's spacious, good to drive and cheap. However, there is a way to improve it: power.

I don't understand some people. They claim to know what's good for the world and yet when faced with something perfectly good they simply dismiss it as "rubbish" because it doesn't reach their high standards. For example, a dislike of a particular supermarket because they don't think it's up to snuff. It's fools like that who are making Skoda's job of making really good cars rather difficult.

For the last couple of decades, Skoda has been making cars that don't live up to the company's former image. They're good. Really good, come to think of it. The Yeti 4x4 has been a huge hit, the Superb lives up to its mildly ostentatious name, and the new Rapid, while not being the exciting car in the world, is perfectly fine to pootle about in. Yet people who claim to know what they're banging on about still think of Skoda as it was in the bad old pre-VW days. And I feel sorry for them.

The Octavia is now in its third generation. This time round its based on the same platform as the VW Golf, Audi A3 and Seat Leon -- all incredibly good cars in their own rights -- which means its got some solid under pinnings. In standard trim it handles well and is a good giggle, however, Skoda has a sub-brand for fun cars. It's called vRS and its job is to go very quickly indeed.

There are two flavours of vRS to choose from: a petrol and a diesel. The petrol one has 220 bhp flowing out of a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. It'll do zero to 62 mph in less than 7 seconds and it'll manage near on 155 mph. So it's a bit quick then.

It's also rather comfortable in its standard driving mode, though if you prefer to feel every lump and bump on the road feel free to switch it to "sport." While switching to the aforementioned mode will make the car far more sporty, I preferred to keep it in comfort as you can still go silly fast but don't have to deal with harder springs. If eco driving's your jam, and why wouldn't be if you're in the market for a 220 bhp car (why is it there? WHY?), you can set the car's gearbox and engine to sup fuel as frugally as possible. Or, you can mix all three modes, stick it in "individual" and tailor your drive as you please.

Handling-wise, the vRS is pretty entertaining. Feel free to bung it in to a corner and, with a fistful of brave pills, nail the go pedal. You'll have fun.

I know there will be people out there who aren't keen on Skoda because of its former image, but to be honest -- if they're not paying attention, there's all the more fun out there for those who do. Let them hate away, I'll be laughing in the Octavia.

Specs
Engine 2.0-litre turbocharged
Power 220 bhp
Torque 258 lb. ft.
0-62 mph 6.8 seconds
Top speed    154 mph
 

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