THERE'S a lot to love about the Octavia vRS as we know it. The spacious and good value mid-sized offering can be had in petrol or diesel forms, in hatchback or estate and with manual or slick DSG gearboxes, all of which are blessed with impressive performance and handling. But now theres a 230 model to make choosing even more difficult.
In petrol-only 230 form the power output has been bumped by 10PS to give 230 in total, or 227bhp in old money, while underneath it also benefits from the clever electronic differential as standard. Marking out the 230 model from a regular vRS are the 19-inch alloy wheels, black detailing on the door mirrors, grille and roof rails on the estate, as well as unique instrument displays.
Looks and image
They may be subtle differences to the regular hot Octavia but the vRS 230 is even better looking. The black detailing around the exterior gives it a little more menace, although it is far from a boy racers hack; Skoda has always managed to produce sporty cars that look good but wont attract the wrong kind of attention, which is one reason why theyve proved so popular. Theres also the added cache of owning the 230 model over the standard car, which might well prompt a few people to trade up.
Space and practicality
The other reason the Octavia vRS is so popular is that you can have it as an estate, which makes it far easier to justify as a family wagon. As with the standard Octavia the boot space is excellent; a yawning 610 litres with the rear seats in place and up to 1,740 litres if you fold them. Its sensibly shaped too, with storage areas and lashing eyes for bigger stuff. In the cabin theres plenty of space too, and unless you need the vast legroom of the bigger Superb youll be able to fit adults in all five seats.
Behind the wheel
Upping the performance factor hasnt diminished the core Octavia qualities of being undemanding and easy to get on with. Theres a brief burble from the 2.0-litre turbocharged unit when you fire it up but the clutch is light and the gearshift easy and slick.
The extra 10PS doesnt transform the vRS 230 from hot into scorching, but its welcome nonetheless. Its a joyously flexible unit that has lots of low down torque but is also keen to rev, with strong acceleration right around the dial. The standard sports exhaust adds a little more to the vocals too, although its far from raucous.
It also blends ride and handling prowess in a well-judged fashion. The electronic differential means you can accelerate harder and earlier, and it helps to pull the vRS through bends with alacrity. Its sufficiently good fun to be entertaining but not so hyperactive it will drive you crazy on the motorway.
Value for money
The vRS 230 costs an additional £2,120 over the standard car in manual estate form, but for that you get electric sports seats, the extra power, electronic differential and all the visual enhancements including 19-inch alloy wheels as standard, which is considerably cheaper than those extras added on top. To put that in perspective, a Golf GTi hatchback with less power will cost you another £2,500.
Who would buy one?
If you can afford the extra outlay theres no reason not to choose the vRS 230 over the standard vRS. The extra power and grip are welcome as are those heated leather seats and it looks smarter too. Happily the Octavia in any guise is a purchase you dont have to justify; good value, spacious, practical, easy to live with and sturdily built, it can play the role of family car and daily driver whilst still raising a smile.
This car summed up in a single word: Polished.
If this car was a : school pupil it would undoubtedly be the class swot.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
Skoda Octavia vRS 230, £27,550
Engine:2.0-litre petrol unit producing 227bhp and 258lb.ft of torque
Transmission: Six-speed manual gearbox driving the front wheels
Performance: Top speed 152mph, 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds
Economy: 44.8mpg combined
Emissions: 143g/km of CO2