The arrival of the Skoda Octavia vRS marks the comeback of the racier version of the D-segment sedan in India after a long hiatus. Good news is that, this time, this performance sedan is similar to the Euro-spec version apart from a few India-friendly changes. So the car is based on the 2017 Octavia underpinning the MQB platform. But instead of the regular 1.8-litre TSI petrol engine, the vRS gets power from a 2.0-litre turbocharged mill. Apart from the engine, there are some cosmetic tweaks, changes to the steering, ride and suspension with a wider rear track.
The past two generations of the Octavia were available in the RS trim In India and impressed us with its performance. We missed this variant in the third-gen, but it’s now here with the facelifted version. Will it continue to impress this time too? We find out.
The overall dimensions of this notchback remain the same like the standard Octavia except for being slightly longer due to the change in bumpers. The updated suspension set-up, however, means the RS sits lower to the ground (by 15mm).
The fascia sports LED headlamps, cornering fog lamps and daytime running lights (DRLs) from the 2017 Octavia, but gets a new front bumper that adds to the aggression. Even if the car misses out on international-spec 18-inch alloy wheels, it gets bigger and good-looking 17-inch ones.
The tailgate spoiler and dual trapezoidal steel exhaust tips have further accentuated the look of the car. There are flashy exterior body colour options too, which add to the visual drama.
Unlike the typical beige interior, the vRS gets an all-black theme which looks dapper and will be easier to maintain. You won't miss any features as the equipment in this car comes with the same level of kit as the regular top-spec Octavia TSI. So no compromise on the feature-rich cabin or on the safety and convenience features.
Some of these features include the new touchscreen infotainment system, nine airbags, ESP and a park-assist system for hands-free parking. In fact, now there are additions that increase the sporty quotient. This includes a flat-bottomed RS steering wheel with paddle shifters behind the wheel.
Furthermore, now there are front sport seats in which you will feel nicely cocooned. These seats are adorned with black Alcantara leather, contrast-stitched in red, to make you feel more special. Things that remain unchanged otherwise are good interior space, use of excellent quality materials and a huge boot space.
Press on the gas pedal and the car shoots forward so quickly that it will put a smile on your face. The throttle response is also appreciable. As against the 177bhp of power in the standard Octavia, the 227bhp here is delivered quickly due to the free-revving motor, but still in a very linear manner. Bury your foot in the accelerator and the increased 350Nm of torque (250Nm in regular) available from 1,500rpm does account for some wheel spin with the ESC off. Still there’s minimal torque steer. Also, this motor isn't very loud, but in fact, has a nice raspy note with a soft braap while shifting at high revs. It sounds better from the outside than the acoustically-enhanced tune in the well-insulated cabin. With the launch control system on, we did the 0-100kmph sprint in 6.8 seconds and that’s impressive for a car weighing 1,418kg. Furthermore, the engine never runs out of steam. High triple-digit cruising speeds were achieved with the tacho needle hovering at around 2,500rpm.
Complementing the powerful mill is the quick six-speed DSG gearbox. It manages the throttle response very well providing a jerk-free experience. This smooth transmission upshifts early in the regular drive mode, while allowing you to hold revs till 6,000rpm in the sport mode before it upshifts. So whether you are being chauffeur-driven or you enjoy being behind the wheel even as you zip past other cars, the car will never feel bogged down. So you can enjoy the best of both worlds. No wonder I never felt the need of a manual. Still there are paddle shifters to give you better control of the gear shifts while overtaking.
Straight-line stability was fantastic in the Octavia and it has gotten better in the vRS. The suspension remains the same but gets a tad firmer. It is still higher than the Euro-spec RS to adapt to Indian road conditions. So the vRS goes around corners fast with very less body roll and even clears speed breakers without scraping. And this is despite the lowered ride height. Also, the steering responded very well while taking the car in the direction pointed at, while making quick turns.
Though the difference in the standard car and this one isn't very prominent, the steering wheel lock to lock involves lesser turning in the vRS. Better stability and agility combined with the plush ride quality makes driving the vRS an absolute pleasure, be it at high or low speeds. Larger-diameter disc brakes provide enough bite and good feel and feedback at the pedal. They have the ability to stop the car confidently despite the increased power. My only gripe is about the squealing of the Hankook tyres on making fast turns. May be because they looked battered. Even so, they still provided a good grip on the wet tarmac as well.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||227bhp @ 5,500rpm|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||350Nm @ 1,250rpm|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||50|
|Tyre size||225/45 R17|
|Sports seats with alcantara leather||Yes|
|Racy 17-inch alloy wheels||Yes|
|Reversing camera with guidance||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||vRS||2.0 SX (O) AT|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||227bhp @ 5,500rpm||150bhp @ 6,200rpm|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||350Nm @ 1,250rpm||192Nm @ 4,000rpm|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||50||50|
|Tyre size||225/45 R17||205/60 R16|
The Skoda Octavia vRS is the only true-blue performance sedan in the sub-30lakhs price bracket with more than 200bhp of power! It does not have any competitor in the same price or power bracket. In fact, the vRS has impressed me so much that I would recommend it to a person wanting to buy the 1.8TSI. For about Rs 4-4.3 lakhs extra you get an even more powerful car that has a better handling prowess, looks better and still makes for a practical and affordable performance sedan.
Pictures by Kapil Angane