This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Skoda Octavia vRS (13-17) review.

Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

Originally, the vRS was available only with a 2.0 TFSI engine with 200bhp. Its the same unit that can be found in the 2005 Volkswagen Golf GTI and feels just as eager and flexible in the Octavia. 0-62mph takes 7.2 seconds (only 0.1 seconds longer in the estate) and thanks to the turbocharger there's plenty of power low down as well as in the mid-range, making overtaking easy.

It's also impressively economical for a hot hatch with an average of 38mpg achievable. It's not the most characterful of engines, but there's a nice boom on start-up and a slight rasp from the twin exhausts between changes, adding to that sporty feel. A 2.0 TDI with 170bhp was introduced in mid-2006 and is the same engine used in cars like the SEAT Leon FR and Volkswagen Golf GT.

On paper it's slower than the petrol with a 0-62mph time of 8.5 seconds, but thanks to more pulling power, it feels faster on the motorway when accelerating in-gear. It's quite noisy though and doesn't feel as enjoyable to drive as the petrol, but on the plus side, average fuel economy is 49mpg. The standard gearbox is a slick six-speed transmission that's enjoyable to use and well weighted, plus there's also a DSG automatic available as an optional extra.

This uses two clutches to delivery super-fast changes and accelerates as fast as the manual. In May 2008 a common rail (CR) version of the TDI engine was made available. This is far smoother and quieter than the older diesel (often labelled as PD) but confusingly both were offered until October 2008. After that, only the common rail version was available.

The standard Octavia handles with plenty of composure, helped by the fact that it is based on the excellent Volkswagen Golf from 2004. The vRS foes further with larger alloy wheels, improved brakes and lowered sports-tuned suspension. As a result it's great in corners with little body roll and well-weighted steering. It's not as agile as some smaller hot hatches, but for its size it certainly feels nimble and can happily be driven quickly along twisting roads.

All the controls, such as the gearchange and clutch, work with real precision, giving the Octavia a robust feel. The ride is excellent too and feels far more forgiving than most performance hatchbacks. As a result the vRS is a great all rounder.