Expert Reviews

First drive: Skoda Octavia vRS 4x4 Estate

Friday 09 September 2016

First drive: Skoda Octavia vRS 4x4 Estate

In a nutshell, this is the same Octavia vRS Estate we’re all familiar with, but with added four-wheel drive to improve grip and ease of use. The system itself is rather intricate, utilising clever computer software and a range of advanced electronically actuated mechanicals to help it do its job. Aside from the fact that you can only have a 4x4 vRS Estate with Skoda’s automatic gearbox, this car looks practically identical to any other vRS.

Looks & Image

While the new Superb and Fabia might have pipped the Octavia in the looks department, you’d still be hard pressed to call it an unattractive piece of kit. Everything about the car looks as though it’s in its right place, and even though it’s starting to get on a bit in terms of age, its pronounced creases add some modern flair.

Thanks to a raft of more than competent cars being released by the Czech manufacturer of late, the fact that this car wears a Skoda badge shouldn’t be a turn off. Anyone who knows cars can tell you this is a great little estate, and represents a smart choice for anyone in the market for a car of its ilk.

Space & Practicality

No longer is Skoda seen as a bargain basement option when it comes to purchasing a new car. The revitalized brand now prides itself on offering cars that combine both practicality and value for money.

The Octavia has both of these things in spades. Beneath the Skoda exterior, this is practically a Volkswagen Golf, although in Octavia Estate guide there is 610 litres of boot space on offer – slightly more than what you get from a Golf Estate. Even the addition of the four-wheel drive system hasn’t compromised the amount of space on offer in the Octavia Estate.

In the cabin, four adults can ride in comfort, and thanks to a number of storage bins and cubbies, there will be more than enough room for all of their associated clobber as well. Specifying Skoda’s optional Simply Clever package will add in features such as an ice scraper stored in the fuel filler cap, and a waste bin in the door pocket for added practicality.

Behind the Wheel

Put plainly, the vRS’s new four-wheel-drive system doesn’t feel like it differs too much from the regular front-wheel drive system. It works in conjunction with an eager and refined 2.0-litre, 182bhp diesel engine, while the ride manages to toe the line between firmness and comfort incredibly well.

While the vRS may not offer the most adrenaline-fuelled drive in the world – at least compared to some of the other hot hatches currently available – its handling is spot on, and can easily cope with a blast down a quiet B-road.

However, next to the two-wheel drive model, this hasn’t changed. The new four-wheel-drive system has more of an impact on the car’s performance and economy. It can now reach 62mph from a standstill in 7.7 seconds, 0.3 seconds faster than the equivalent two-wheel-drive car. In terms of economy, it achieves a marginally worse figure of 56.5mpg on the combined cycle.

Considering the fact that the four-wheel-drive system is quicker and more sure-footed than the regular car, this compromise in economy isn’t going to be a huge deal. Putting your foot down in the wet or on a loose surface in the two-wheel-drive car can cause the wheels to spin under all the diesel engine’s torque. The four-wheel-drive model, on the other hand, copes in these sorts of scenarios far better, maximising grip and minimising wheel spin.

Value for Money

The diesel Octavia vRS Estate 4x4 will set buyers back £28,810 - £1,450 more than the regular two-wheel-drive vRS with an automatic gearbox will. Considering that this price tag doesn’t get you any extra toys as standard, it is a fairly tall order. Next to the manual vRS, it’s even more a sting, as this car is £2,840 less expensive

However, when you compare it to the Golf GTD Estate, the Skoda does start to justify that price tag. The Golf isn’t as practical or as powerful, and doesn’t come with four-wheel drive either. The Octavia vRS 4x4 is about the same price as a manual Golf GTD Estate, and a whopping £1,300 cheaper than the automatic version.

Who would buy one ?

The vRS 4x4 isn’t going to appeal to everyone, thanks to its inflated price tag and marginal performance gains. However, those who live in places where conditions tend to get icy will certainly be drawn in by the added confidence afforded by the extra traction. Thanks to its large boot, decent performance and impressive economy – this could easily be the only car you’ll ever need.

Facts at a Glance

Model: Skoda Octavia vRS 4×4 (£28,810)

Engine: 2.0-litre turbodiesel (182bhp)

Transmission: Six-speed twin-clutch automatic

Performance: 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds, top speed 139mph

Economy: 56.5mpg (combined)

Emissions: 186g/km

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