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Skoda Octavia vRS Estate 2.0 TDI 200PS

If you’ve ever been a passenger in a modern Skoda – any, modern Skoda – you’ll have some appreciation of just how incredibly practical they are. Right across the range they offer a blend of comfort and space that’s impossible to fault.

Practicality, space, comfort are hardly words to send a chill down your spine, make the pulse race and the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end but the Octavia vRS aims to go some way to remedy that.

Skoda Octavia vRS Estate (59621887)
Skoda Octavia vRS Estate (59621887)

Whichever body style you opt for, saloon or estate, the Octavia is cavernous and you get either with a choice of more potent engines, revised suspension and some styling add-ons to create a little visual spice.

My review model, in estate form, was fitted with the least powerful of the three engine choices, a 197bhp 2.0 TDI diesel, but you can pick a plug-in hybrid version with 242bhp and CO2 emissions of just 26g/km.

The final offering in the range is a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, also with 242bhp on tap but emitting 157g of CO2 per kilometre.

Not exactly hot hatch territory, not these days, but if you want to combine practicality (yes, that word again) with pace, does the Octavia vRS offer the perfect blend? Let’s find out.

Skoda Octavia vRS Estate (59621897)
Skoda Octavia vRS Estate (59621897)

There’s loads of space in the front of the Octavia with room for even taller drivers to get comfortable behind the wheel. Space in the back in reasonably generous too, with plenty of room to carry equally tall passengers behind those same tall drivers.

There’s plenty of adjustment for reach and rake in the steering wheel position and a decent amount of movement in the vRS- branded sport seats, too, so finding your ideal driving position shouldn’t prove too difficult. All models are equipped with adjustable lumbar support.

There’s a significant hump in the middle of the floor so anyone sitting in the centre of a three will have to straddle but the footwells are a good size so it isn’t too restrictive. The rear seat is wide enough to accommodate three adults in some comfort.

Skoda Octavia vRS Estate (59621905)
Skoda Octavia vRS Estate (59621905)

The digital instrument display is also standard in all models. It replaces the conventional analogue dials that you would normally find in the instrument binnacle and replaces them with a large LCD display that provides plenty of layout and content options.

Visibility out the front and sides is excellent thanks to large glass areas and relatively slim A-pillars. The thick C-pillars impact on the view out the rear however. Rear parking sensors are standard across the range while SE Technology, SE L and SE L First Edition models get sensors at the front too. On the options list is a rear-view camera and Skoda’s Park Assist which will park the car for you.

There’s plenty of storage space throughout the cabin, including generously-sized door bins, a cooled glovebox, a cooled cubby beneath the centre armrest and, in front of the gear lever, a tray that’s large enough for a mobile, wallet and house keys.

Skoda Octavia vRS Estate (59621895)
Skoda Octavia vRS Estate (59621895)

There are two cupholders in the front that, cleverly, will grip a bottle tight enough to allow you to unscrew the cap with one hand, and another two in the rear centre armrest.

The boot is huge. There’s no other way to describe it. It’s large enough to shame most competitors in the class above. The load area is longer and taller than most of its direct rivals and is a useful shape too. The only negative is a sizeable lip that makes lifting heavy items into the boot a little more difficult.

The rear seats fold flat in a typical 60/40 split to turn a huge boot into a cavernous one. They’re simple to operate using levers in the boot but they don’t lie completely flat when folded.

All the controls feel nice to use but I’m not especially keen on putting the cruise control functions on a stalk behind the steering wheel. It’s all too easy, especially while you’re getting used to the layout in the cabin, to flash your high beam – not a euphemism – at someone while trying to set a cruising speed.

Skoda Octavia vRS Estate (59621903)
Skoda Octavia vRS Estate (59621903)

The infotainment screen – with its classy, frameless, design and sharp graphics – is mounted usefully high on the centre of the dashboard. The large icons on the 10in display (8.25 inches on entry-level models) are relatively easy to hit and the screen is responsive too. There’s a pair of shortcut buttons – touch sensitive – that take you to the menu and home screens but they are rather inconveniently located at the point furthest away from the driver in the top left corner.

Annoyingly the air conditioning controls are located on the touchscreen – there are no analogue buttons or dials – and, although the temperature icons are on display at the bottom of the screen, all the other functions are hidden away and making adjustments on the go is a tricky affair.

Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring and DAB radio are standard across the range. SE Technology, SE L and SE L First Edition cars get the bigger screen with built-in sat-nav. SE Technology and SE L are fitted with two USB ports while First Edition cars are equipped with five. There’s two additional ports in the rear and another by the rear view mirror for powering a dash cam.

Skoda Octavia vRS Estate (59621885)
Skoda Octavia vRS Estate (59621885)

The non-hybrid versions of the vRS ride on lowered and stiffened suspension. It is significantly firmer than that on a standard car and, if you have opted for the DDC adaptive set-up you can stiffen it even more. There’s some body roll in corners and that mass shifting around impacts on the Skoda’s agility, inhibiting its ability to change direction with genuine purpose.

You can still hustle the vRS along country roads briskly but it doesn’t quite possess the personality to put smiles on faces the way that hot hatches do.

What the vRS does do, like the entire Octavia family, is carry a family of five and their luggage in genuine comfort. Yes, there is the occasional thud and thump when you hit a sharp ridge or pothole, particularly when you’re accelerating hard, but the vRS is a capable and smooth cruiser and its body control is an improvement over the sometimes wallowy standard car.

Skoda Octavia vRS Estate (59621877)
Skoda Octavia vRS Estate (59621877)

As well as the thudding from suspension, cabin refinement is also negatively impacted by a degree of wind and road noise. It’s rarely overbearing, but you might find it necessary to raise conversation levels by a couple of decibels to be heard clearly.

The diesel-engined vRS driven here, even with all wheel-drive and a dual-clutch gearbox, takes 7.1 seconds to reach 62mph from a standing start. While that’s hardly going to set the world on fire, the diesel’s strong low-down pull makes driving quickly reasonably effortless.

Like all Skodas, the vRS is practical and comfortable and boasts some genuinely thoughtful touches. Quality is excellent, particularly for the price, and the ergonomics spot on. Equipment levels are generous too. It would be a mistake to imagine you’re buying a hot hatch – or estate – though, because the vRS is, instead, a warmed-up version of the Octavia, for someone who a Civic Type R might be a little too extreme.

Skoda Octavia vRS Estate 2.0 TDI 200PS

Price: £37,970

As tested: £40.935

Engine: 2.0 TDI

Transmission: 7-speed DSG 4x4

Max power: 200PS

Max torque: 400Nm

Max speed: 149mph

0-62mph: 7.1 seconds

WLTP combined: 50.4 – 49.6mpg

Emissions (CO2): 147 – 151g/km

For more information visit www.skoda.co.uk

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