The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The Skoda Octavia vRS offers an intoxicating combination of practicality and performance, with plenty of value for money thrown in for good measure.
Reasons to buy:
- Great styling
- Rewarding drive
- Sporty interior
How good does it look?
The 2009 Skoda Octavia VRS hatchback and estate have undergone a series of subtle design improvements which add up to a much more contemporary and better-looking car. Some changes ensure the Czech manufacturer’s sporty hatch fits into the Octavia range, including larger door mirrors and larger headlights with Octavia inscription and some are VRS-specific including red brake callipers, deeper bumpers, boot spoiler on the hatchback, Zenith 18-inch alloy wheels and twin chrome exhaust. The LED running lights add a quality feel.
What's the interior like?
The interior also sees a combination of Octavia family upgrades and VRS-specific improvements. The former includes touch-screen entertainment controls (now on most Octavias) and new trim, controls and instrumental panels – incorporating white LED needles. The latter includes three-spoke leather-wrapped sports steering wheel with paddles, figure-hugging height-adjustable sports seats and kick-plates as well as a black roof lining.
How practical is it?
No compromises here with the Skoda Octavia VRS hatch offering the same dimensions and features as the regular model with 560 litres of hatchback space (1350 with seats folded) and 580 litres in the estate (1620 with the seats folded). The “Jumbo box” air-conditioned storage compartment beside the driver and illuminated and air-conditioned glove box make the Octavia a supremely practical proposition.
What's it like to drive?
The VRS gets modified shock absorbers and springs for a sportier response and 12mm lower ride height. Steering is sharp with a substantial feel which betrays the Volkswagen family connection and rewards enthusiastic driving. Comfort and fun are combined to perfection.
How powerful is it?
The Skoda Octavia VRS model is available with the Volkswagen Golf GTI’s 200bhp 2.0-litre TFSI or a 170bhp 2.0-litre TDI CR, both of which are mated with a six-speed DSG gearbox. We drove the more economical diesel which covers the 0-62mph sprint in 8.4 seconds and has a top speed of 139mph. It feels faster than that thanks to the DSG and the option of a more responsive sport mode. The petrol cuts the 0-62mph time by over a second and increases the top speed to 149mph.
How much will it cost me?
The diesel makes for the most economical motoring, returning 49.6mpg and producing CO2 emissions of 150g/km. Mileage decreases to 37.7mpg and CO2 emissions increase to 175g/km for the petrol version.
How reliable is it?
The Skoda Octavia has been responsible for more than just shifting 148,000 cars in the UK; it has helped change the perception of the company and allowed the Czech manufacturer to accurately proclaim itself the manufacturer of happy drivers. Much of this is down to its fifth place in the Reliability Index, making it the highest-placed European manufacturer and rewarding it with an eleven-year award-strewn history in the UK in its current incarnation.
How safe is it?
Anti-lock brakes, traction control, brake assist and electronic stability programme are standard. Driver and front passenger front and side airbags are fitted as standard with curtain airbags an option.
How much equipment do I get?
It’s quicker to list what you don’t get rather than what you do. All the features mentioned in this review come as standard on the Skoda Octavia VRS. Impressive. The only options on our model were the Xenon headlights with integrated washers and 3 spoke multi-function steering wheel for radio and telephone with Bluetooth and paddle shift. Bolero entertainment system with 6.5-inch touch screen display, 6CD changer and SD/MMC card reader are thrown in too, as is the handy 3.5mm aux-in socket located in the central armrest.
The Skoda Octavia vRS hatch is fun, practical, reliable and fast.