Skoda Octavia 2.0 TSI vRS 5dr
Not including the vRS, there are five powertrains to choose from – a 108bhp 1.0-litre petrol, a 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol, two 2.0-litre diesels with either 113 or 148bhp or a petrol plug-in hybrid. All are familiar – they’re also available in the new Golf, Leon and a load of other VW Group cars and SUVs.
The big diesel gets a seven-speed DSG as standard. It claims 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds. Good engine, this. Certainly feels quick enough, and in mixed driving mostly delivers on Skoda’s promise of mid-fifties mpg. But it’s a tad…diesely. It doesn’t transmit nasty vibrations through the steering wheel, pedal or seat, but it does grumble a fair bit under load. Entirely unsurprisingly, in the Golf this engine seems quieter, less chuggy, and the VW also does a better job of dialling out wind and tyre roar.
That’s not to say the Octavia is unrefined. It’s a stable, serene, comfortable cruiser that sits very happily a 70mph on the motorway. It doesn’t fall apart on a B-road, but it’s not as dynamic as a Focus. The steering is nice and precise, but the Octavia’s chassis is plainly more geared towards comfort than sporty handling. Buy a Leon if you’d rather it was the other way round.
And that’s just fine. The ride is good, though soft damping means it does float a bit over crests and the body can take a second to settle after you hit a pothole or speed bump. Adaptive damping is pricy option we haven’t yet sampled.
Left to its own devices, the seven-speed DSG changes gears quickly and smoothly, though it can be a bit hesitant to kick-down or when you’re trying to make a fast getaway at a busy junction or roundabout. Plus ça change. There are paddles on the wheel – use them to make smoother progress along B-roads. Select the right gear before a corner, and the auto won’t have to kick-down when you accelerate out.
For most people the petrol engines are a better bet – they’re both quiet, refined and quite economical. Go for the DSG and they come paired with a smooth mild-hybrid system that shuts-off the engine when you take your foot off the gas. We sampled the 1.0-litre on a 50 mile route and scored 54mpg without trying – we’ve had worse from plug-in hybrids on the same drive.
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