SPECS AND VER­DICT Model En­gine

Friday - - Motoring - Six-speed auto, FWD 217bhp @ 4,500rpm 350Nm @ 1,500rpm 248kph 6.8 sec­onds Dh120,000 Price, great per­for­mance In­te­rior plas­tics, plus the badge counts against it

snarl, you see, be­cause Ško­das were Com­mu­nist Porsches. The West had its cap­i­tal­ist 911s; we had our 60 horse­power 130s. But of course global dom­i­na­tion doesn’t rest. As soon as the wall came down the Volk­swa­gen Group started con­sum­ing in 1991, and by 2000 Škoda was en­tire­lyWolfs­burg’s to do as the Ger­mans pleased.

Long story short? Global dom­i­na­tion means you can now buy a Golf GTI with a clev­erer tail­gate for less money. Ev­ery­one’s a win­ner, ex­cept Karl Marx and the badge snobs. For­get ’em.

Pop the boot in this Škoda, and, mir­a­cle! Not only does the boot open, but the en­tire tail­gate and rear wind­screen pop out of there like a hatch­back. Now I’ve got 590 litres of cargo space and the rear seats are still up. Neu­věřitelný!

I re­alise 590 litres might not sound like much, or even use­ful at all with­out some con­text (the Golf, for ex­am­ple, has a paltry 380 litres of cargo space plus a much more cum­ber­some ingress to the area, and the Oc­tavia is a closer match to es­tates and crossovers or full-size sa­loons) but that’s only be­cause you’ve never had 590 litres avail­able be­fore. You’ll find your­self nip­ping out for half a tonne of pota­toes ev­ery week. It’ll be knedlíky for break­fast, lunch and din­ner. he in­te­rior is cheap though. Be­cause the car is cheap, most likely. With a 2.0-litre turbo and 217bhp the Oc­tavia vRS is Dh120,000. This gets you air­con­di­tion­ing and cruise con­trol, a ra­dio, good seats and lit­tle else – the qual­ity of the ma­te­ri­als and the fin­ish is poorer than in a Volk­swa­gen.

But it’s just so much fun to drive, with a nos­tal­gic at­tempt at an air­cooled sound from the ex­haust (it’s ac­tu­ally syn­the­sised) for any­one who re­mem­bers 130s and such.

The six-speed DSG twin-clutch has no­tice­ably dif­fer­ent map­ping than in the Golf GTI, but in Sport mode the changes are sharp and with an elec­tronic XDS+ the sys­tem mim­ics an oily dif­fer­en­tial by brak­ing rel­e­vant front wheels and im­prov­ing cor­ner­ing.

Ba­si­cally, even though a GTI will pull away from a vRS off the line, through the turns there’s noth­ing in it – the Škoda is just great to drive, and even on a high­way it man­ages to mag­nify city speeds so it’s fun ba­si­cally all the time. There’s a lit­tle vRS but­ton on the cen­tre con­sole that you’ll want to just leave in Sport for­ever – the great thing is that af­ter boot-up the car re­mem­bers your pre­vi­ous set­tings and stays there.

Quite lit­er­ally, then, the Škoda Oc­tavia vRS is a Volk­swa­gen but with­out be­ing so darn Ger­manic. Your GTI-driv­ing friends might give you some flak. But they def­i­nitely won’t mind all the knedlíky.

Global dom­i­na­tion means you can now buy a Golf GTI with a clev­erer tail­gate for less money

Oc­tavia vRS 2.0-litre four-cyl turbo Trans­mis­sion

Max power

Max torque Top speed 0-100kph Price Highs

Lows It’s fun to drive and not ex­actly lack­ing in cargo space

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