Our Fleet Test Drive: Skoda Octavia vRS - Final Report
31 March 2008
Author: Hugh Hunston
Strong on virtues and low on vices, our chunky diesel Octavia vRS left an enduring impression after six months and nearly 7700 miles in our care.
The car is based on VW Golf underpinnings, resulting in an estate that straddles lower and upper medium sectors on size and cost.
Add the extra vRS power and the result is a 48.7mpg wagon capable of 142mph and zero to 60mph in less than nine seconds.
However, while several rivals have moved on to common-rail diesel technology, the Octavia's robust, if not cutting-edge 170PS 2.0-litre VW Group diesel remains one generation back. As such, it is noisier overall and less tractable when lugging out of corners in second gear, though when it comes to fuel economy it eclipsed less powerful Ford Mondeos and Renault Lagunas with a superior everyday 45mpg.
The vRS also has a six-speed transmission, with a lowered, stiffer suspension and sharper steering rack than the standard estate, while the car's torque and balance could best be exploited on open, flowing A-roads. However, the optional £450 18-inch alloys , while potentially earning better RVs, compromised ride quality and motorway cruising refinement.
The capacious, rattle-free interior was ideal for transporting dogs and garden refuse. It cleaned up well, too, and the low, recessed boot floor and easily operated folding rear seats reduced the risk of loading-induced hernias.
The £19,420 P11D price also gives business drivers a natty vRS interior including two-tone suede-finish sports seats  and thick-rimmed leather steering wheel.
Trouble-free until 6000 miles, the fast and frugal estate did develop late-in-life and distracting hassles. Front sidelight and reversing bulbs (strangely not warrantied) failed, while a cruise control software glitch (cured by switching off before locking and unlocking the doors) plus screeching steering gear made parting that little bit easier to take.