Skoda Octavia 2.0 TDI vRS 5dr
With the new Octavia Skoda has switched to its latest design language
- Generous interior space for all occupants
- Smooth power delivery offers relaxed yet rapid progress
- Understated but stylish cabin design
- High value-for-money will appeal to families and business users alike
- Tailgate can prove a little heavy to open
- Keen drivers seeking true hot hatch thrills might need to look elsewhere
- Rear visibility impeded by a high boot line
- Diesel variant can sound gruff when pushed hard
The cornerstone of Skoda's range, the Octavia is an important car for the Czech manufacturer. This 2013 model car is more a gentle evolution of an already successful formula than a ground-up reinvention, boasting improved road manners, greater refinement and occupant comfort. In hot vRS form the car continues the policy of delivering accessible performance at an affordable price.
Skoda's desire to move upmarket and compete with the likes of Volkswagen is most evident in the Octavia's interior. Here you'll find plush materials and an executive level ambience. The sporty but subtle character of the vRS translates into subtle reminders that you're in a quick car - sports seats, high class trim materials - a theme that spills over into the car's exterior.
This Octavia continues Skoda's trend to move away from boxy, plain-looking car's. It remains a low-key sight in the car park, but glossy trim accents and fuss-free sheetmetal do much to promote the Octavia's understated approach. This situation remains with the vRS, which barely shouts its presence. Save for a modest bodykit and attractive alloy wheels you'd struggle to tell it apart from a not so hot Octavia.
Useful tweaks to suspension and engine components have resulted in an Octavia vRS that's more powerful and faster than before but also more economical and greener. As such, this interesting combination of attributes ensures that Skoda's most potent model is also very much an all-rounder, be it for family or business duties.
Further boosting the car's appeal is the ability to choose from five-door hatch or capacious estate. Then there's the labour saving DSG auto gearbox option alongside the more conventional six-speed manual transmission. And if that's not enough, you can opt for petrol or diesel power, making the Octavia vRS a truly flexible and rounded proposition.
Our verdict on the Skoda Octavia 2.0 TDI vRS 5dr
In vRS guise this Octavia remains something of an impressive all-rounder. Built and equipped to the same high standards as many more expensive rivals, it delivers a pleasing combination of agility, performance, practicality and refinement regardless of engine of body choice. Other cars deliver a more focused driving experience but usually at the expense of more useful real world features. Happily Skoda's engineers concentrated on delivering a rounded package to please the majority, and it's paid off.
In vRS trim the Octavia promises to deliver a good balance of performance and real world economy and low running costs. That also makes the Octavia temptingly cheap to run as a company car, and its residuals should be strong thanks to its new features and brand strength and popularity.
Space and practicality
With so much interior space to go around it's no surprise to see that practicality is equally abundant. Cup holders, door pockets, covered storage bins and an ample glove box all provide day-to-day usability. The boot will be familiar to existing Octavia owners, with a fairly square area offering huge practicality and space for lots of family luggage.
Controls and display
As well as the standard touch-screen display in the centre console, the maxi-dot screen between the speedometer and rev counter is now full-colour. Paired with easy to read dials that share the font styles found throughout the car, the displays are lifted from the norm without being overbearing or too heavily styled. The displays echo the relatively youthful, active but sensible and practical nature of the car itself, while controls follow the familiar VW Group layout.
On one hand there is plenty of room to stretch out in the Octavia. On the other the ride can get a little jiggly at times thanks to the car's sports suspension. On the larger wheels fitted to the vRS model bumps can sometimes feel sharper than they should, but the seats themselves are of the supportive type and do a good job
All Octavia models come with a comprehensive anti-theft system, along with the usual remote central locking and selective opening and closing features to further boos security. There is no privacy glass, but the boot is fully enclosed and keeps items out of sight.
As well as many airbags, the latest passive protection technologies and all the electronic braking and stability aids you would expect of this sort of car, the Octavia can be had with systems like automatic post-collision braking, automatic emergency braking if the driver fails to react to an impending nose-to-tail collision.
Delivering more of a solid and dependable experience at the performance end of the market, the Octavia vRS might leave the purist keen driver wanting but should satisfy most buyers. Acceleration is rapid regardless of engine choice and the suspension strikes a good balance considering the poor quality of many UK roads. As rounded packages go, the Octavia is a rewarding one
Family car appeal
It's doubtful that any other car for this price offers quite so much for the average family. From the capacious boot and rear passenger area to the many smart everyday usability details the Octavia impresses as a family car.
First car appeal
While easy to drive, the Octavia vRS is hardly first car material - it's fast and for novice drivers likely to be a costly car to insure. A safer bet would be a less powerful variant until sufficient experience at the wheel had been gained.
Quality and image
Originally perceived as a budget brand for people who couldn't afford a Volkswagen, Skoda has transformed itself into a brand that people buy into for its own merits. Among the British population it is now one of the more desirable brands of car to drive, and for humble, honest reasons. The vRS performance sub-brand has its own dedicated fanbase, often eschewing extrovert rivals for the Octavia's subtle yet rewarding approach to brisk motoring.
Welcome improvements to this Octavia include greater length going into the wheelbase in between the seats, with the rear doors now longer and offering accessibility not dissimilar to the fronts. Also, the roof line has been made higher to make access even easier. There are few cars in the medium family hatchback segment that can claim quite such an ease of ingress and egress. The boot, though, has a heavier-than-average tailgate that can be weighty to lift for the first few inches.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
For the first time a touch-screen media interface is standard, which brings with it certain advantages. It feels modern and neat, but some functions require a few stabs at the screen to get the job done. A large screen option rectifies most issues and delivers a true widescreen experience. On all models DAB radio, a USB input socket and Bluetooth are standard.
Colours and trim
There is a good mix of both muted and strong colours to choose from, with red and blue well represented among various shades of black, silver and white. The available blues look particularly good on the car's strong lines. The interior trim is a marked step up in quality and style from previous Octavias.
Model dependent parking sensors are a huge help when parking what has grown to become a large, executive-class car - audible and visual assistance via the car's multifunction display provide all the help you'll need. An Automatic Parking Assistant is optional and can park the car automatically with only throttle and gear inputs from the driver. If parking manually, the high boot line obscures visibility significantly.
Emergency tyre repair kit supplied as standard.
Petrol engine options - 1.2-litre (104bhp); 1.4-litre (138bhp); 2.0-litre (217bhp). Diesel engine options - 1.6-litre (104bhp); 2.0-litre (148bhp, 181bhp). Transmission options: six-speed manual gearbox, with DSG twin-clutch auto gearbox optional across all engines. Trim levels: S, SE, Elegance, vRS.
Volkswagen Passat Slightly higher materials quality and prices meet less interior and luggage space
Seat Exeo Smaller and cheaper and with almost as much luggage space as the Octavia but no hot version offered
Ford Mondeo Starting to look and feel its age despite recent improvements. Can't match vRS for pace
Vauxhall Insignia Updated and improved for 2013. High power VXR model a more costly performance alternative