Skoda Octavia vRS 245 review – it’s sensible, silly

Skoda Octavia vRS 245 review – it’s sensible, silly
Skoda Octavia vRS 245 review – it’s sensible, silly

Every brand within the VW Group has a carefully curated identity. Audi is the premium brand, Seat is the youthful stylish one, VW is the bastion of people’s-car quality and Skoda is the sensible, budget-conscious one.

But even sensible brands have moments of madness and for Skoda those are expressed by the vRS badge.

It’s Skoda’s equivalent of VW’s GTI mark, attached to the performance-oriented models.

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For years it has been worn by various versions of the completely sensible Octavia hatch and estate. Even the vRS manages to be sensible sometimes, offered as it is with a powerful but economical diesel.

That’s not what we’re testing here though. No, we’re throwing sensible out the window with the vRS 245 – a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol putting out 245PS (242bhp) and 273lb/ft. It’ll reach 60mph in 6.4 seconds (not sensible) and, where permitted, hit 155mph.

Skoda Octavia vRS 245

Skoda Octavia vRS 245

Price: £29,490 (£31,320 as tested)
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol
Power: 242bhp
Torque: 273lb/ft
Transmission: Seven-speed DSG automatic
Top speed: 155mph
0-60mph: 6.4 seconds
Economy: 44.1mpg
CO2 emissions: 146g/km

They’re proper hot hatch figures, enough to scramble eggs on the way back from the supermarket.

But even with the ability to light up the Tarmac the vRS manages to feel like a reasonable, sensible family car.

In fact, on first acquaintance, the Octavia doesn’t feel particularly “hot hatchy”. The badging, body kit and alloys look a bit flash and there are some fabulous-looking and supremely comfortable tombstone sports seats but on an initial commute home it felt much like any other Octavia.

Skoda Octavia vRS 245

There’s the same spacious interior, decent equipment levels, easygoing DSG gearbox. In fact, the first word that springs to mind is mature. Despite the headline figures, on a regular daily drive it feels like a grown-up family hatchback, albeit one with a nice turn of speed away from junctions.

It takes a bit of digging to reveal the vRS’s wilder side but it’s worth seeking out. This is a car that comes more alive the harder you drive it. Leave comfort mode behind and start to press on in sport mode and the slight hesitation in the gearbox and touch of vagueness in the steering disappear. The quicker you go the more positive they feel.

Find some twisty roads and you’ll also start to discover how positive the chassis is. Thanks to fat tyres and an electronic locking differential this thing has fantastic grip, tracking straight through challenging tight corners with excellent body control. Lean on the throttle on the exit and you feel the e-diff pulling you through and keeping things tidy.

The engine itself is as Jekyll and Hyde as the rest of the car. It’s torquey enough to shove along quickly from low revs but is equally happy screaming to 6,000rpm on every gearshift. Back on the everyday pootle it’s calm and quiet.

The only negative to the whole Octavia vRS experience is that the excitement isn’t as instantly obvious or accessible as in some hot hatches. On the flip side, though, you have that performance there when you want it but the rest of the time you have a massively practical, comfortable family car.

See, even when it’s trying to be wild and outrageous Skoda still manages to be sensible.

Skoda Octavia vRS 245

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