- Max Speed
A plug-in hybrid Octavia vRS? Surely not…
Well, hardly surprising is it? Plug-in hybrids are rife right now with diesel dying slowly in the corner and full electrification on the horizon. And the VW Group, with its handy MQB plug-in box of bits, is taking full advantage. For its pokiest plug-ins (Cupra Leon eHybrid, VW Golf GTE… and now this) that means a 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine plus a 113bhp motor for a total of 242bhp and 295lb ft of torque – numbers more than worthy of Skoda’s spiciest badge. This is the most potent vRS model ever, no less.
Bet it’s a bit of a porker, though.
Yep. Courtesy of its 12.8kWh battery pack, motor and other associated hardware the ‘iV’ weighs nearly 200kg more than the 242bhp petrol vRS. At £35,020 for the hatchback version we’ve driven here (the estate, which is the one you want, costs £1,200 more) costs £3,500 more than the petrol version, robs the estate of 150-litres of boot space, has a 15mm higher ride height which looks… awkward and has zero chassis upgrades over the ‘normal’ Octavia iV.
That means there’s a significant dilemma every customer will likely face. If you are buying this car to sidestep the tax man, then you’ll actually hit a lower tax band in the regular, cheaper iV, have no handling drop-off and still get a healthy 201bhp to play with. If you’re buying it because you enjoy the sensation of driving briskly, then the cheaper, lighter, faster petrol vRS will surely tickle your pickle more.
You’re doing a good job of talking me out of it. What’s it like to drive?
Rather good, as it turns out. The interplay between combustion and electricity is smooth and without jerkiness, throttle response is sharp and acceleration is the family-friendly side of properly fast. Remember to charge it up and there’s officially a 38-mile electric-only range, but you can bank on 20 in the real world if you drive like a normal person. Still, plenty for maximum smugness on the school/supermarket run.
And what about those funny curly things, y’know, corners?
Our test car came with the optional (£925) dynamic chassis control adaptive dampers, which do tighten up the body roll, but don’t go far enough to make this feel like a performance car for the enthusiastic drivers out there. Really hammer it around a corner and the front tyres will scrabble away helplessly in search of some grip. The reality is a softly sprung, solidly-built, well-equipped and handsome family car with a decent turn of speed that will mostly be called upon on motorway slip roads to make the kids giggle in the back.
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In isolation this is a swift, spacious, good looking car. You’ll save buckets of cash on company car tax and the kids might think you’re cool… but in the context of the new Octavia range, it’s not a particularly logical choice.
Specs: £35,020 (Hatch), 1.4T 4cyl + emotor, 242bhp, 6spd DSG, 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds, 176.6mpg, 36g/km