Škoda Oc­tavia vRS

The iconic vRS badge makes a come­back

Car India - - CONTENTS - Story: Sarmad Kadiri Pho­tog­ra­phy: San­jay Raikar

Here we are talk­ing about a spa­cious, pre­mium sedan with a Euro­pean badge and a sports car-like per­for­mance. But here is the catch: it comes for a frac­tion of the price of a usual sports car. True to the Škoda tag line, the Oc­tavia vRS is ‘Sim­ply Clever’. Škoda have been cash­ing in on this win­ning recipe of more ag­gres­sive styling and pow­er­packed per­for­mance in the vRS ver­sion of the Oc­tavia. Un­like its pre­de­ces­sors, how­ever, the lat­est it­er­a­tion hasn’t been de­tuned for In­dia, but of­fers the 2.0-litre TSI pro­duc­ing 230 PS, just like its in­ter­na­tional ver­sion.

It’s not just an en­gine up­grade, the vRS rides 15 mil­lime­tres lower and the rear track is wider by 30 mm than that in the stan­dard Oc­tavia. This has not just changed the dy­nam­ics of the car but given the Škoda a sportier stance. Adding to the more ag­gres­sive styling is a set of new bumpers, a spoiler on the boot-lid and twin chrome ex­hausts. There is a bunch of new, in-your-face body colours to choose from (in­clud­ing the one I am talk­ing about — the very Euro­pean Steel Grey op­tion), which adds to the whole aura. An­other smart choice for the In­dia-spec car is the 17-inch al­loys which are bet­ter suited to our con­di­tions in­stead of larger wheels with low-pro­file tyres.

The all-black treat­ment of the cabin goes quite well with the car’s de­signed-to-thrilling theme. Its black Al­can­tara leather bucket-type seats look spec­tac­u­lar with the red high­lights and vRS brand­ing. And, trust me, they are supremely snug and keep you in place while swerv­ing the car round fast cor­ners. In ad­di­tion to this, the per­fo­rated leather-wrapped, flat bot­tom steer­ing wheel of­fers a con­fi­dent grip. At the back, there’s de­cent knee-room, too, and it even gets a mas­sive 590-litre lug­gage ca­pac­ity. I also like the feel of the glass touch­screen which con­trols the car’s func­tions and, with the SmartLink sys­tem, sup­ports Mir­rorLink, Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto.

The car isn’t purely about fea­tures or com­fort, though both these are in abun­dance, as the vRS badge is syn­ony­mous with zippy per­for­mance. The free revving turbo-charged mo­tor of­fers prompt power de­liv­ery and makes the vRS a good all-rounder. A smooth wave of torque is avail­able from just 1,500 rpm to 4,500 rpm, and the steady flow of power be­tween 5,500 and 6,200 rpm makes it effortless to drive quickly. Un­like the stan­dard Oc­tavia which comes with a seven-speed DSG, the vRS gets a six-speed unit which de­liv­ers seam­less gear shifts. Petrol-heads will be happy to know that the gear­box al­lows you to shift down even at high revs, un­like some other auto ’boxes. Dou­bling the en­gage­ment level, the Škoda also gets pad­dle shifters, a fea­ture en­thu­si­asts revel in.

Now let’s get to real-time driv­ing. Dur­ing reg­u­lar city driv­ing, I se­lected the ‘D’ mode, wherein the in­tel­li­gent trans­mis­sion shifted early to keep the en­gine revs re­laxed. In the need of more power, all I needed to do was add some weight on my right foot. The DSG shed a cou­ple of gears and pro­pelled the vRS ahead, in the blink of an eye. This adds up to some effortless over­tak­ing ma­noeu­vres.

This flex­i­ble na­ture makes the Škoda Oc­tavia vRS a smart choice for daily use; one that can be used com­fort­ably for com­mut­ing to work

Next, I wanted to try some spir­ited per­for­mance and se­lected ‘S’ mode. Here the 230 horses en­sured that the revs don’t drop be­low 2,000 rpm and the trans­mis­sion held on to each gear all the way to the red-line. When I revved it harder, the vRS let out a throaty ex­haust note, and the shift-ups were re­warded by an as­tound­ing blip­ping sound from the pipes. In our per­for­mance run, we man­aged to come very close to the claimed 0-100 km/h time of 6.8 sec­onds, by achiev­ing it in 7.1 sec­onds. And it blazed past 200 km/h be­fore one could re­alise. If you’re look­ing for some gritty per­for­mance, then the Oc­tavia vRS won’t leave you dis­ap­pointed.

On our twisty test­ing road, the Oc­tavia pro­vided an ex­cel­lent bal­ance be­tween fun and com­fort. It’s in­ter­est­ing how Škoda have man­aged to use the same suspension for a stan­dard car, but tuned it dy­nam­i­cally for this ver­sion. This, along with the vRS be­ing 15 mm lower, re­sults into tidy body con­trol, mak­ing the car ea­ger to ne­go­ti­ate bends. Here the elec­tri­cally

as­sisted steer­ing wheel am­pli­fied the fun quo­tient with its quick re­sponse, but it could do with some more feed­back.

De­spite this, the vRS felt sharp round cor­ners as Škoda have aptly equipped the vRS to make it safe and yet fun to drive. An im­por­tant tech­nol­ogy worth men­tion­ing is the Elec­tronic Sta­bil­ity Con­trol pack­age which in­cludes a lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial or, in Škoda say, XDS+ which sta­bilises the car dur­ing corn­ing. The sys­tem elec­tron­i­cally man­ages the wheel re­sis­tance, re­duces the cor­ner­ing an­gle, bring­ing the car closer to the apex of a turn. This gives the vRS al­most go-kart like agility, mak­ing it ex­tremely ad­dic­tive to drive.

For In­dia, Škoda have fur­ther fine-tuned the suspension, mak­ing it im­pres­sively com­posed over un­du­la­tions; only the se­vere ditches can be felt within the cabin. The Miche­lin Pi­lot Sport 4 tyres with their 225/45 pro­file also im­prove the ride qual­ity along with pro­vid­ing am­ple grip for the 230-PS Oc­tavia. And de­spite be­ing lower, not once did it scrape the belly over the speed-break­ers we en­coun­tered.

This flex­i­ble na­ture makes the Škoda Oc­tavia vRS a smart choice for daily use; one that can be used com­fort­ably for com­mut­ing to work. Its large cabin and enor­mous boot can dou­ble it up as a fam­ily sedan. Then there’s the well-built cabin, pli­ant ride and a lengthy list of fea­tures which you can’t ig­nore. Most im­por­tantly, the vRS with its price tag of Rs 25.49 lakh (ex-showroom) makes sports car-like per­for­mance more ac­ces­si­ble. This car is worth sav­ing up for.

( Be­low) All-black treat­ment of the cabin goes well with the car’s de­signed-tothrilling theme

( Above) Look­ing for some gritty per­for­mance? The vRS won’t leave you dis­ap­pointed

Pad­dle shifters keep en­thu­si­asts busy

The SmartLink sys­tem, sup­ports Mir­rorLink, Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto

( Above, clock­wise) Driver get all the info at a glance

Doesn’t of­fer in­tu­itive guid­ing lines while re­vers­ing

( Above, clock­wise) Mas­sive lug­gage ca­pac­ity makes it ideal for fam­ily out­ing Spec­tac­u­lar sport-seats are supremely snug too At the back, there’s de­cent knee-room too

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