Skoda Octavia 2.0TDI CR vRS Estate 5d - Green versus Yellow

  • We try out CAR’s vRS with automatic gearbox, 18-inch rims and leather-clad seats
  • Almost identical in specification, but with a subtly different feel on the road
  • Our car still comes out on top, thanks to more involving driving experience and better ride

A conflict of interest, or duality of purpose? The juxtaposition of diesel estate and oversized hot hatch is a conundrum that’s troubled me since we took delivery of KX63 RSV. Had we displayed the same sort of gumption needed to order Sprint Yellow paint and chosen the 220bhp petrol model it might not have been so hard to fathom.

We didn’t, and instead ended up with the 181bhp 2.0-litre diesel instead. Along with that power figure the four-cylinder emits just 119g/km and is said to be capable of returning 61.4mpg. Evidently our choice is entirely befitting of a sensible and secure brand like Parkers, focussed on real car-buyers rather than fanciful performance car dreamers.

But we’re not the only ones to select an Octavia vRS wagon that stops by the black pump, as sister title CAR run one also. Only they weren’t so imaginative with the paint.

Octavia vRS

They did go off-piste when it came to gearbox selection though, preferring one that swaps cogs for them rather than requiring the coordination of left-hand and left-leg. The love for the VW group’s DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox has been well-documented, not least on here, throughout the years, and with good reason too.

CAR also stuck with the standard 18-inch Gemini alloys, like those fitted to our car when it sat on winter tyres, rather than electing to follow in our tyre tracks with the upgraded 19-inch Xtreme rims. Otherwise though, save for CAR adding leather seats to theirs, our cars are identical.

Octavia vRS DSG gearbox

Giving my left leg a rest for the night I slipped into the leather-clad seat of the Rallye Green example and swapped keys with Tim. Hoping for a softer ride, thanks to smaller alloy wheels and larger tyre profiles, I was disappointed by the first speedbump on my exit of Bauer Towers. Certainly, if there was any more ‘give’ in the ride of AWC then I was struggling to detect it.

That feeling failed to diminish out on the road too, as while there was clearly a difference in this car’s underfoot response, it struggled to feel quite as composed as our car – taking longer to deal with each imperfection and occasionally relinquishing traction over bumps. Not that RSV is a suspension masterclass of course.

18-inch wheels on Octavia vRS

What was more immediately apparent was the difference the gearbox made; by holding onto gears longer than I naturally would with the manual box, the 2-litre diesel seemed slightly harsher. It isn’t of course, and there’s no denying the extra convenience of having such a smooth gearbox change ratios for you.

With paddles behind the steering wheel you can control the box manually too, and save for the odd reluctant downshift (if it believes engine revs will be too high) it proved a welcome addition at speed.

And the leather seats? I could take them or not; they look the same and offer the same support as our cloth items and don’t feel like the cow they came from was particularly pampered or expensive. My fiancé tells me that cloth is cooler in summer and warmer in winter too. Who am I to argue?

Skoda Octavia vRS Wales

Both cars have plenty of rear legroom and sport a 610-litre boot that can be expanded to 1,740 litres with the seats folded, so there’s no arguing about practicality either. That said it could be contended that it’s CAR’s example that fulfils the duality of purpose brief the best – the automatic gearbox making it a more relaxed diesel estate car when you’re not in the mood to extract available performance.

It’s not the gearbox, or car, I’d choose though. Our long-termer’s manual gearbox is hardly reluctant and when you’re in the mood to drive the vRS like its makers intended it’s infinitely more satisfying than the click of the paddles behind the steering wheel on CAR’s estate. The larger wheels haven’t sacrificed the (admittedly already harsh) ride quality too much either, and to my mind RSV does the oversized hot-hatch thing better.

Plus it’s yellow.

 

Mileage: 8,548 miles       Economy: 44.3mpg (calculated)