Škoda Octavia vRS
The iconic vRS badge makes a comeback
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.
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
( 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
( 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