► Most powerful vRS production car yet
► 227bhp, 10 horses more
► We review limited-edition special
The warmed-up vRS is a popular derivative, accounting for 10% of all Octavia sales globally according to Skoda. In the UK, it’s even more successful, making up a quarter of all Octavias sold. So we should pay attention to the new Skoda Octavia vRS 230 model, available now in hatchback and estate guise.
It’s Skoda’s most powerful roadgoing vRS model in history and we’ve just driven it in five-door hatch form. Is it worth your £26,350? Read our full review to find out.
What makes an Octavia vRS 230?
Ten more ponies is the quick answer, the VW group-familiar 1984cc four-cylinder boasting a massaged ECU and a smidge more turbo boost to liberate 227bhp in total. The regular vRS continues with 217bhp and you can again choose from a six-speed manual or six-cog DSG twin-clutch transmission.
All vRS models stick with front-wheel drive, but the 230 - named after its output in metric horsepower - adds an electro-mechanical limited slip diff at the front front axle to tame the extra torque, swollen to 258lb ft. Your £2500 price rise also bags a set of extra equipment over the regular vRS:
- 19in blacked alloys wearing 225/35 Pirelli P Zeros
- Smoked privacy glass, blacked trim, door mirrors
- Electrically operated, heated leather sports seats
- Touchscreen sat-nav with lap timer
- Parking sensors
Ok, so it’s well equipped. How does it drive?
If you’re a fan of the regular Octavia vRS - and we are - there’s much to like here. Skoda’s brand promise of extra space is a real boon, with lashings of leg- and luggage room all round. Especially if you pick the estate (the 230 pack comes in both bodystyles).
Settle behind the sporty, red-stitched leather wheel and those vRS sports seats grip you tight. They’re comfy and supportive, just remember their integrated headrests block the view for kids in the back. A prod of the button starts the four-pot and it awakens with an unremarkable four-pot grumble.
Set off, though, and you immediately notice the sports exhaust. This car has a willing thrum that’s fruitier than a regular vRS’s - and makes our old long-term test vRS diesel seem decidedly rent-a-fleet. There’s bite to match the bark, too, with a strong flood of torque available all the way from 1500-4600rpm, equating to instant shove across the rev range. This is a quick car and feels every inch as fast as its 6.7sec 0-62mph claim (down by 0.1sec).
So does the vRS 230 out-handle a Golf GTI?
This is a bigger car, but it can be hustled with confidence. The multi-plate clutch pack between the front wheels shuffles up to 100% of drive between each tyre in extremis, and we were impressed by how well it curbs torque steer. In the dry, traction was impeccable and there’s no tugging at the wheel, even under full acceleration in tight corners. Impressive.
We tested the manual and it has a pleasingly slick operation; we know the DSG ‘box well, and there’s little in it - choose the transmission that suits your lifestyle and likely driving milieu.
Chinks in the armour? The biggest glitch - and it’s a major one - is the ride. Those vast 19in black rims and liquorice-banded 35-profile Pirellis cause a busy patter on all but the cleanest of road surfaces. Skoda doesn’t get access to the active dampers available elsewhere on the MQB platform and it really shows. If the roads are bad where you live, we’d forecast it’ll be a real pain in the bum, literally. It’s the biggest dynamic weakness in what is otherwise a truly rounded package.
It’s business as usual for the vRS, really. We’re big fans of the fast Octavia - this is a sensible rational choice with added performance piquancy - a kind of classic Q car for the everyday man. It’s easy to see why they’re so popular in the UK. The 230 only amplifies the vRS’s core values, but it’s a shame the big rims make it handle bumps and lumps with such a lack of finesse.