Audi Style For Much Less.
For : Space, practicality, performance, value.
Against: No cruise control.
A recent cameo involving some friends of mine demonstrated the quality of Skôda. During my tenure of the vRS Estate I dropped in to see a pal and as we were standing outside, his wife returned from a walk and eulogised about the Skôda, asking me if it was an Audi A6.
Unfortunately my friend’s wife is a ‘brand victim’ and when I told her that it was a Skôda and would she like a ride, she instantly declined. Fortunately there are few of these dinosaurs left and Skôda just goes from strength to strength soon to be selling a million cars a year.
I am not a great fan of the motoring department of Which? magazine but its testing is pretty thorough and for Skôda to be its Best Car Manufacturer against the likes of Lexus, Mazda, Honda, Audi, BMW and Mercedes is some achievement. Having driven the latest Octavia in various guises I am, for once in total agreement with the Consumer Association.
Launched appropriately at the Goodwood Festival of Speed
The new vRS was launched appropriately at the Goodwood Festival of Speed as the one thing the vRS has in spades is speed. The maximum of 150 mph is most impressive although somewhat irrelevant in a world where most countries have maximum speed limits of between 60 and 80 mph.
Even in supposedly unrestricted Germany it is very difficult to find any stretches of autobahn that are unrestricted for any length. Also, there is an advisory limit of 130 kph (81 mph) across Germany and heaven help you if the Polizei catch you exceeding that limit if conditions are not perfect.
Fortunately, there are other angles to performance apart from maximum speed and the vRS utilises VW Group’s wonderful 2 litre, turbocharged petrol engine, propelling this four-wheel drive Octavia to 150 mph and 0-62 mph in 7.1 seconds. For a commodious estate that is more than adequate.
It is not just the outright performance that is impressive but also the way it is achieved; so smooth, sweet and effortless. It is this effortlessness which highlights my only criticism of the vRS; the lack of cruise control which, surprisingly is fitted to the lower powered Elegance models but not the fastest and most powerful.
The vRS is Skôda’s equivalent of the Golf GTI with exactly the same engine but very different suspension. It is almost as though the Skôda has been developed for an older, more family orientated customer. It still steers remarkably well and has limpet-like grip but it is somehow softer than the GTI and slightly less responsive. The vRS is fitted with multi-link rear suspension which quietens the ride and absorbs bumps very effectively. The car offers a remarkable blend of sportiness and comfort and is possibly easier to live with than the GTI for all but the most enthusiastic drivers.
The double-clutch DSG automatic gearbox with steering wheel paddles is as good as ever and can either be left to itself to give high levels of refinement and relaxed comfort or, when you’re in the mood, it can be used just like a manual but with much quicker changes.
Apart from the lack of cruise control, the vRS is extremely well equipped with alloy wheels, sports suspension, Bi-xenon headlights, rear parking sensors, all-electric windows and door mirrors, dual-zone climate control, leather-trimmed steering wheel with audio and computer controls and height adjustable front seats with lumbar support.
As should be the case in a 150 mph car, safety has not been forgotten with seven airbags, automatic post-collision braking system, daytime running lights, tyre pressure monitor and lane assistant.
Skôda engineers should feel justly proud of the amazing progress they have made over the last twenty years. The quality, fit and finish is right up there with Audi.
© Robert Couldwell.
August 2013. For publication on WintonsWorld
|Skôda Octavia vRS 2.0 TSI Estate DSG|
|Engine:||2.0 litre 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol|
|Power:||220 hp @ 4,500-6,200 rpm
|Torque:||320 Nm/258 lb foot @ 1,500-4,400|
|Gearbox:||Six- speed automatic|
|Acceleration:||0-60 mph 6.9 seconds 0-100 km/h 7.1 seconds|
|Top Speed:||150 mph-240 km/h|
|Fuel Consumption:||claimed combined – 44.19 mpg-6.4 l/100km|
|Emissions class:||Euro V|
|Boot capacity:||610 litres seats up / 1,740 down
|Competition:||Ford Mondeo 240, Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer, Volkswagen Passat, Volvo V70
|For:||Space, practicality, performance, value|
|Against:||No cruise control|