Skoda Octavia 2.0TDI vRS Estate: Early impressions

  • We spend 30 seconds in our new Octavia vRS long termer
  • Short period behind the wheel reveals plenty of strengths
  • Skoda is already shaping up to be best all-rounder on the fleet

Someone once told me you can tell how good (or bad) a car is within the first 30 seconds of driving it. Seems like that might be a bit hasty – by that time you’re barely into third gear and will be lucky to have applied more than one full round of steering lock. In this job we spend as many hours and as many miles behind the wheel of every test car before delivering the definitive Parkers verdict.

Opinions are formed on our Skoda Octavia vRS long before that though; just catching sight of the yellow peril is usually enough for someone to offer an insight. It has to be said that personally I’ve been a big fan of the colour scheme from day dot, but others in the team have taken a little while to warm up to the hue -  the logbook sees one scribbler remarking that ‘the colour still jarrs’ for example.

Skoda Octavia vRS

Sliding behind the wheel you’re immediately struck by the cloth-covered sports seats fitted to our example – not only do they look great, but they prove comfortable and supportive. You notice the deep side bolsters even before twisting the ignition key.

All of the immediate controls feel high-quality, the perforated leather wrapping the neat multifunction three-spoke steering wheel and plain leather-clad gearlever particular highlights. The rest of the cabin is swathed in soft-touch plastics, save for the odd slither of more commercial-grade fittings finding their way onto the doorcards and lower area of the transmission tunnel.

Skoda Octavia vRS interior

Once started the 2.0-litre diesel engine grumbles into life with a touch more noise than you might be expecting but soon settles down to a quiet and smooth idle – and there’s no unwanted vibration through any controls. In fact without moving away you can quickly tell the Octavia is well-insulated and well-built, leading to high expectations for refinement.

The steering feels a touch on the light side, even just manoeuvring out of a parking space, but this can be adjusted using the Drive Mode Selector on the centre console – Sport mode sharpening up the throttle at the same time as adding weight to the rim. It also adds some emphasised sound through the bulkhead, though you’ll only notice the change in pitch and volume under acceleration.

It does ride rather firmly on the standard 18-inch wheels though, the speedbumps encountered mere seconds after leaving its space in the Parkers car park sending shockwaves into the cabin even at crawling pace. The surface imperfections on the main road outside simply enforce that first thought, and it looks like this may be a fly in the Skoda’s refinement ointment.

Skoda Octavia vRS wheels

Fitted with winter tyres, and with temperatures well beyond the sub-7c ideal operating window, the vRS squirms at the first roundabout and appears to be moving around on its tyre treadblocks with very little input required. There is some bodyroll to be experienced as well, though it feels far sharper than a regular Octavia wagon on which it’s based.

There’s plenty of low-down torque though, and while our example has less than 1,000 miles on the clock the engine feels perfectly willing and free. Certainly the near eight second 0-62mph time feels perfectly believable – you can thank the 380Nm of torque for that – and in the first few gears it’s clearly obvious this is a flexible performer.

Skoda Octavia vRS engine

And so our first 30 seconds are quickly up, with the yellow Octavia vRS making big impressions already. It’s clearly going to take us some more miles, and months, to truly understand what living with this car is really like, but from first impressions we have a feeling it’s going to be good finding out.

Early days it may be, but if those formative indications are true, this Octavia could just be the best all-rounder on our current fleet.

Mileage: 995 miles                                           Economy: 48.6mpg (calculated)