RAC Cars News


Skoda Octavia vRS Review

By raccars Published

Skoda Octavia vRS Preview Drive – Goodwood Festival of Speed

RAC Cars drives the new Skoda Octavia vRS at Goodwood for a first drive before it hits the roads in the UK…

… and also brings you top 5 half price used alternatives to the fastest ever Skoda!

Skoda joined RAC Cars with a world debut at the Goodwood Moving Motor Show presented by RAC Cars: not only were we there to meet and greet the public for the first time, but the new Skoda Octavia vRS was also on show to the world.

It wasn’t just on static display either – visitors to the Moving Motor Show presented by RAC Cars actually got the chance to grab a test drive of the new Skoda hot hatch, too.

Not wishing to miss out, RAC Cars grabbed a quick drive of the quick new Skoda too, with a showcase blast up the famous Goodwood hill climb. We’ll be driving it on UK roads later in the month, but here are our first thoughts on the car.

What’s more, if you can’t wait, or don’t quite have from £22,900 to spend on a new car, we’ve also researched five half-price used car alternatives to the new Skoda Octavia vRS, which will deliver all the practicality and performance of the Skoda for a lot less outlay…

Styling and interior

The new Skoda Octavia is a crisp-looking thing with some neat, clean details: the Octavia vRS accentuates this with chunky wheels, an elegant tailgate spoiler and, most notably, a more aggressive front end with bigger air intakes and LED running lights. Black door mirrors and detailing finish it off – oh, and we love the red strip in the rear bumper.

Inside, it has a sophisticated air that’s not radically different from regular Octavias, save for the sporty steering wheel. The key change is the addition of a high-back front bucket seats. They are superb. They eat into rear passenger space a little but the latest Octavia is so roomy, this shouldn’t be an issue. The boot is massive too – both key parts of the car’s appeal (if the hatch still isn’t big enough, the estate offers even more room).


The petrol Skoda Octavia vRS uses the same 2.0-litre turbo engine as the VW Golf GTI, producing an identical 220hp. It hits 62mph from rest in 6.8 seconds and goes on to 154mph – making it the fastest Skoda ever.

During our run up the Goodwood hill, we found it swift and, in particular, very torquey: the swathes of pulling power had no trouble keeping a Maserati Ghibli behind. It was also beautifully smooth and, with the punchy DSG gearbox option, proved satisfying. If petrol isn’t your thing, a 184hp diesel engine is also available – this is the same motor as in the VW Golf GTD.


A blind run up the challenging Goodwood hill is a good test for any car: you need grip, response, neutral balance and confidence, all of which the Octavia offered in abundance. When we overcooked it going into one corner, the strong front end grip and electronic support sorted things out before they got messy, while fast blasts through other bends were planted and assured.

It doesn’t feel overtly harsh or sporting – that’s not what people buy an Octavia vRS for – and our first impressions of the new sporty Skoda suggest the firm has done just enough to make the vRS feel good.

Price and value

Prices from just £22,900 for the five-door manual 2.0 TSI 220 Octavia vRS are a true bargain. An estate is also available, as is that 2.0 TDI 184 (priced from just £23,260). A VW Golf GTI is over £3000 more expensive, showing what great value the Skoda is.

It’s not even mean on equipment. Included as standard are 18-inch alloys, DAB radio, Bluetooth, climate control air con, Xenon headlights and seven airbags.

Fuel economy

The new Skoda Octavia vRS is lighter than before, with fully overhauled engines: both are more fuel efficient too. The 2.0 TDI is best, averaging 61.4mpg and emitting just 119g/km CO2 (the old car averaged less than 50mpg). The petrol is impressive too, emitting 142g/km CO2 and averaging 45.6mpg.

Preview verdict: Skoda Octavia vRS

Our first taste of the Skoda Octavia vRS in action at Goodwood was positive: it felt swift, purposeful, refined and just racy enough. We love the seats, think the styling is spot-on and feel the petrol-powered car’s blend of mature sporting drive and truly exceptional list prices definitely make it one to watch.

Come back to RAC Cars for a full test of the Skoda Octavia vRS on British roads, to see if can carry through this circuit promise on to the highway.

5 Used Car Alternatives To The Skoda Octavia vRS

1. Used Skoda Octavia vRS (2011 car)

Why is it so good?

This second generation Octavia vRS has just been replaced by the car RAC Cars drove at Goodwood, but it’s still worth a look. A two-year old model can now be found for less than £12,000 if you search hard – buying a similarly compelling blend of practicality, performance and all-round drivability as the new model.

It too is available in 2.0-litre turbo petrol or diesel guise. We’d go for the diesel as it’s better able to keep fuel bills in check.

2. BMW 320d (2010 car)

Why is it so good?

The best-handling four-door car you can buy: the rear-wheel drive BMW is a joy through the corners yet, with the punchy 177hp turbodiesel, still capable of returning nearly 59mpg.

Your half-price Octavia vRS budget will get you a 2010 car with a good choice of trims – we’d go for M Sport, even if the ride is very hard. If you want even better fuel economy, try to search out a 320d EfficientDynamics.

3. Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TFSI (2010 car)

Why is it so good?

The Audi A5 Sportback is both a hatchback alterative to an A4 saloon and a more practical four-door couple sibling to the A5 Coupe. It is a surprisingly practical family car despite its sweeping back end, and both quality and image are faultless.

For a sporty Skoda-style drive, go for the fizzy 2.0-litre TFSI petrol car – these are rarer than the popular TDI diesel, but worth hunting out. They are available with quattro four-wheel drive for added greasy-road confidence.

4. Vauxhall Insignia VXR (2010 car)

Why is it so good?

It’s a leftfield choice but the Insignia VXR packs some surprising firepower beneath its regular fleet car body: 2.8-litre turbo V6, four-wheel drive and computer-controlled adaptive suspension for starters.

Despite the aggressive VXR makeover it’s smoother and more sophisticated to drive than you’d expect – a satisfying long-distance express (even if the fuel bills may be crippling). At this price, it’ll take time to find one but if you like to be different, it’ll be worth it.

5. Volkswagen Passat R-Line (2010 car)

Why is it so good?

This is, essentially, the Volkswagen alternative to the Skoda Octavia vRS: sporty-style version of a regular saloon car (with an estate alternative) that packs some punchy engines that deliver decent performance without going too overboard.

The R-Line models carry a neat bodykit that, like the Octavia, is just enough. Best in TDI 170 guise, there are plenty out there which should make picking one up for around £11,000 a straightforward job.

Looking to Buy?
Search for cars