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REVIEW – Skoda Octavia vRS 245

Editor-in-chief, Senior Reviewer


Skoda Octavia vRS 245 DSG
  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Finish
  • Engine / Performance
  • Ride / Handling
  • Economy
  • Practicality
  • Equipment
  • Value For Money
4.5

Summary

With a spacious cabin and cavernous boot, the Skoda Octavia vRS 245 may well be one of the most practical hot hatches around. Depending on your colour choice it can either be subtle and understated, or bold and boisterous. Despite sharing a platform, the Skoda is also cheaper than the equivalent Golf GTi. There’s just one problem: it’s sold out for 2018 build slots.


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Exterior Styling

Skoda gave the Octavia a minor freshen up in 2017. Most notable is the split front headlight, which I have to admit I’m still not 100% sold on. The Octavia vRS 245 certainly has a presence about it thanks to a host of gloss black detailing and some rather striking colour options.

My test car was finished in solid Meteor Grey, which is akin to primer, and matched really well with the gloss black. At the front, the split headlights with their split LED daytime running lights (which double up as indicators) sit either side of a big gloss black grille. The front bumper is angular, with sharp corners, and the lower grille features a honeycomb insert.

The 19-inch Xtreme alloy wheels are mostly black, with a flash of polished silver detailing. The black styling includes the window surrounds, door mirrors and even the shark-fin aerial. Privacy glass adds a luxury feel whilst complementing the black contrasting details.

At the back a subtle spoiler curves from one side of the boot to the other. LED tail lights sit either side, and the number plate nestles between some rather sharp lines. To the bottom of the rear bumper, a full-width reflective strip sits above a black plastic trim, which almost hides the black exhaust tips.

In this colour scheme, there is no doubt that the Octavia vRS 245 stands out. The same could be said if you opted for Rallye Green or Corrida Red. But if you prefer your hot hatch to be a bit more understated then you could always choose Black Magic Pearl and have a more stealth-like appearance.

Interior Finish

The inside of the Octavia vRS 245 is a lovely place to be. Open the door, step over the vRS scuff plates and take your seat in the sumptuous, body-hugging vRS sports seat. From here the fun begins!

My test car featured an accessory that I didn’t know was available for purchase: an alcantara steering wheel. And at £190 I’d have it on mine too! You see not only does this compliment the alcantara seats, but it has a distinct motorsport feel to it. And that gives the Octavia vRS 245 a racing personality.

Each of the four door cards features mood lighting, and you can choose from ten colours: from white to purple, whatever takes your fancy. In the ‘regular’ vRS the door trim finisher is a carbon-effect, which is sorely missed in the 245, replaced by a simple and less visually-effective gloss black trim.

The plastics are generally nice, barring a couple of scratchy bits here and there on the lower door card and glove box. There are no trim rattles or squeaks: the interior is as well put together as you would expect from any car under German ownership.

Speaking of German ownership, the dashboard, stalks, centre console and infotainment unit are familiar to the VW-Audi Group family. I could liken a lot of the controls to our Seat Leon, which is no bad thing: the cabin is logically laid out and ergonomic.

Engine/Performance

The engine in the Octavia vRS 245 is the same 2.0-litre, turbocharged petrol engine you find in the ‘regular’ vRS. In fact, it’s the same 2.0-litre, turbocharged petrol engine you find in the Seat Leon Cupra. And in the Volkswagen Golf GTi. And in, well, quite a lot of Volkswagen-Audi Group vehicles.

Power is 245PS and 370Nm of torque. You can have either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed DSG automatic. My test car had the latter, and it’s the better choice. With seamless gear changes the acceleration never lets up. Steering wheel paddles make you feel like you’re a professional racing driver, and immerse you in the driving experience.

And what an experience it is: 0-62mph takes just 6.6 seconds, and the top speed is 155mph. That’s certainly worthy of the term ‘hot hatch’ and puts the Octavia vRS 245 well in the mix with the best of them.

One thing that is missing from the driving experience is a proper soundtrack. Granted, the electronic sound symposer feeds a rather deep, throaty engine note into the cabin. It sounds rather pleasant. But there’s no exhaust note. No pops, bangs or burbles. Other models burble on the upchange, and pop on lift off. The Octavia, sadly, does not.

With a press of the ‘vRS’ button on the centre console, you can select different drive modes, including one that can be personalised to suit your individual taste. From the sharper, more responsive ‘Dynamic’ mode to the relaxed, more laid-back ‘Eco’ mode, the Octavia vRS 245 has different personalities to suit every occasion.

Ride/Handling

Where the ‘regular’ vRS sits on 18-inch alloy wheels, the Octavia vRS 245 gets 19-inch ‘Xtreme’ wheels. These are clad in a low-profile sports tyre, which reduces roll in the corners but also makes the ride firmer.

To combat this you can opt for the Dynamic Chassis Control. It allows for variable steering and damping characteristics and is worth every last penny of its £850 price tag. In ‘Comfort’ mode the damping compensates for the lower profile tyres, but in ‘Dynamic’ mode the Octavia vRS 245 becomes a hardcore racer that gives you confidence to push harder.

The steering is direct, pointing the front exactly where you want it to go. And you can keep your hands firmly planted on in thanks to the gearshift paddles mounted behind it. Responsive brakes bring you to a swift halt and dare you to brake later into the corners.

The ace up the sleeve of the Octavia vRS 245 is the electro-mechanical front locking differential. With 245PS going to the front wheels, it’s inevitable that grip could be an issue as you load the front end in the corners. But not in the Skoda. It simply grips and goes, throwing you out of one corner and into the next one.

On looks alone, you would be forgiven for thinking that a car the size of the Octavia could never be as nimble and light on its feet as the likes of the Ford Fiesta and Peugeot 208. Once you’ve driven it, you will realise that the Octavia vRS is definitely agile, and can make serious progress on tight, twisty B-roads.

Economy

Hot hatches have always been reasonably frugal; it’s part of the reason we love them. The Octavia vRS 245 tries hard to maintain this quality.

Despite having a 2.0-litre, turbocharged petrol engine and being a rather large car, it quotes combined fuel consumption of 44.1mpg. Not bad.

Part of the reason for this is the start/stop technology, which saves fuel in traffic and around town. The 7-speed DSG also keeps revs low, which it can do thanks to the amount of torque on offer. Lastly the selectable drive modes enable you to put the engine and gearbox and climate control in ‘Eco’ mode which reduces throttle response and makes the gearbox keen to shift up.

One thing that will harm this consumption is the temptation to bury your right foot in the carpet. You will soon end up at a figure in the low 30s should you get a bit throttle-happy.

As for CO2 emissions, the 146g/km of the Octavia vRS 245 is about where you’d expect it to be. That equates to a first-year VED of £205 and then £140 thereafter. With such a reasonable price tag, there’s no danger of going over the £40,000 threshold and incurring a surcharge.

Practicality

When you think about the ‘hot hatch’ you automatically think three-door, big bucket seats and no rear legroom whatsoever. Well think again. In the Skoda Octavia vRS 245 you have a sensible, sizeable 5-door family car.

The rear legroom is very generous, and means adults can sit comfortably in the back. It also means that there’s enough room for big, bulky infant car seats without needing to move the front seats forward.

The boot is plenty big enough for prams and strollers, as well as the weekly big shop and luggage for a family holiday. The Octavia is also available as an estate. This might make it more suitable for the family dogs.

An optional extra fitted to my car, the Dynamic Chassis Control is a must-have. It compliments the vRS drive mode selector by facilitating variable steering and damping characteristics. That means that for long motorway drives you can have a comfortable suspension, further enhancing the appeal of the Octavia vRS 245.

Equipment

Having spent some time with the ‘regular’ 230PS Octavia vRS – our very own Nick has one – I really noticed the impressive amount of equipment featured on the Octavia vRS 245.

On the outside, you get electrically-adjustable, heated and foldable door mirrors. To light the way at night there’s full LED headlights with adaptive front lighting system.

For interior comfort and convenience the sports seats are finished in alcantara. The front seats are heated and electrically-adjustable, with a memory function for the driver’s seat.

Other standard equipment includes front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, cruise control and interior ambient lighting.

My test car featured some optional extras, including a Canton sound system, Dynamic Chassis Control and Winter pack. You can also add keyless entry and go, blind spot detection, rear view camera, park assist and adaptive cruise control. All of these are reasonably priced.

Value For Money

The Octavia vRS 245, with the 7-speed DSG gearbox, starts at a reasonable £29,490. Given the performance on offer, and the standard equipment, that’s not a bad price. After all, the Skoda is a big, spacious family car.

A Volkswagen Golf GTi performance also has 245PS. In fact, it has a lot in common with the Octavia vRS 245. With a 7-speed DSG gearbox it costs from £31,650, showcasing the Skoda for the bargain it is.

And it isn’t just me who thinks it. The sales of the Octavia vRS speak for itself; all 2018 build slots are sold out. That’s right: if this review has made you want to get your wallet out, then I’m afraid it’s tough.

I suppose you could keep an eye on the used car market, or for future availability. If you really can’t wait, then try the ‘regular’ vRS with a few goodies on it. Then again, there’s always the Seat Leon Cupra or, dare I say it, the Golf GTi…

Facts and Figures

Engine 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Max power 245PS at 5,000rpm
Max torque 370Nm at 1,600rpm
Drivetrain 7-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox, front-wheel drive with electro-mechanical front locking differential
0-62mph 6.6 seconds
Top speed 155mph
Fuel tank size 50 litres
Fuel consumption 44.1mpg, combined cycle
CO2 emissions 146g/km
Kerb weight 1,445kg
Towing capacity 1,800kg braked / 730kg unbraked
Luggage capacity 590 litres
NCAP rating 5 stars
Base price £29,490
Price as tested £31,320
Company website http://www.skoda.co.uk/models/new-octavia-vrs-hatch

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