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Skoda Octavia Estate vRS TDI first drive

  • We drive a high-performance estate with low tax bills
  • Has a huge boot, capacious interior and excellent handling
  • Tax bills from £72 per month, range of up to 675 miles

Skoda’s excellent Octavia vRS Estate is available in two versions – there’s a petrol model borrowing many parts from the Volkswagen Golf GTi and a diesel version which is going to be incredibly popular with company car drivers. To find out why, read on.

Being a performance-orientated car, the first thing we should look at is how quick it is. Equipped with the six-speed manual gearbox and its 2.0-litre, 182bhp turbocharged diesel engine the vRS will hit 62mph in just 8.2 seconds and its top speed is 143mph.

On the road it feels even faster than that. There’s a large dollop of torque – 380Nm, to be precise – which means you don’t have to work that gearbox too hard in order to make swift progress. It’s a little bit noisy, but instead of addressing this with heavy sound-deadening, Skoda has embraced the noise and has actually amplified it into the cabin via an electronic system in the firewall.

This plays engine noise through the car’s speakers and reacts to both revs and throttle application to produce a sportier sound than you’d usually find on a diesel car. It’s not the most realistic of these systems we’ve tried, though. Audi’s BiTurbo A6 achieves it much more convincingly, but the vRS does benefit from the eradication of the typical diesel rattle.

While the petrol vRS simply loves to chase the red line in every gear, the diesel version is probably the more versatile of the two for real-world driving since it has more torque on offer.

Of course, the advantage of a diesel is that it offers low running costs. In this case, CO2 emissions are 119g/km which means company car tax is going to be fairly low. Sitting in the 18% benefit-in-kind tax band, you’ll pay around £72 per month in tax if you’re a 20% tax payer.

In terms of fuel economy, the diesel vRS has a combined average fuel economy figure of 61.4mpg. If you driving normally though, you should expect around 45mpg as a real-world figure. That means the car’s range will be somewhere between 550 and 675 miles between trips to the filling station.

One of the vRS’ party pieces – and it has many – is its handling. Based on a slightly extended version of the same chassis as the fabulous Golf GTi, the way this car steers through corners is extremely accomplished. Thanks to a clever system called XDS+ (which brakes the two inside wheels slightly while cornering) it turns in very sharply indeed and inspires huge amounts of confidence.

It feels balanced and you get the impression it’s a much smaller car than it actually is. In reality this is one portly machine, which is another reason it makes such a good fist of things as a company car. It’s huge, both in terms of interior space and luggage capacity.

There’s easily enough room for five adults, while the boot measures 610 litres with the rear seats in place and 1,740 with them folded down.

The steering is great too, and while a touch inert it does provide enough weighting and feedback to let you know what’s happening under the front wheels. You can vary the weighting of the steering too, which provides an extra touch of adjustability enthusiasts are going to love.

In fact, you can choose from three driving modes depending on the style of driving you’re doing. You can flick between Eco, Normal and Sport, or set up an individual setting with a mixture of all three modes’ attributes. This changes the parameters of systems such as throttle response, steering and the air conditioning.

If you’re in the market for a new company car and you want a machine that’s fast, great to drive and reliable, the Skoda Octavia Estate vRS has to be on your shortlist. It’s a hugely impressive machine.

To find out more about the new vRS, read our full review by clicking here.

Also consider:

Volkswagen Golf

The GTD version of the Golf is just about all the car you’ll ever need if you’re in the market for a hatchback, but its boot can’t hold a candle to the gargantuan Octavia’s.

Ford Focus ST Estate

It’s a seriously quick estate car but suffers with very high running costs and an unruly front end since it just has so much power.

Volvo V60

Although getting a bit long-in-the-tooth now, the V60 represents a safe, efficient and well-built product which has proven very popular with company car drivers.