Skoda Octavia (VRS) Review - SKODA OCTAVIA Car Review

Review

Added: 18 May 2008
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A dozen teenagers in hoodies crossing the road is an intimidating sight, even when driving a car. It wouldn’t have been such an issue if they had just walked across, but they were mainly scuffing along in quarter strides.

While mowing them down is theoretically a worst-case option, it’s not really pragmatic, is it? So I opted to slow down and wait – a balanced position I felt, someway between the worst case and offering everyone a hug.
One looked up, then back down to his shuffling feet, before coming back up for a double take. Next, word went round the group quicker than a minor STD, and by the time I drove around the back of the stragglers, the pack had turned on me.
Daring a little side glance, I was met with the collective bobbing heads of genuine admiration.
My bright yellow, 18” alloy-wheeled, 0-60 in 7.2 seconds-and-looks-it, Skoda Octavia VRS seduced this gang of chilled teens with its skirts, spoiler and DSG-gearbox.
Skodas, ladies and gentlemen, in the vernacular of the Kings Cross area, are ‘Well cool, isn’t it.’ I haven’t mixed my cases that’s how they speak, man.
But the chances are that none of those guys will be able to afford the insurance for another 15 years – I’m not being pejorative, very few can afford these before 30.
That’s because, as I found out on some A-road near Silverstone it is every bit as good as a Golf GTI.
I suspected it might be because there is something about a car that has a good handling balance and well-weighted steering: You almost know before you reach any twisty tarmac that it’s going to be fun. And so it was.
Skoda Octavia VRS  
 
Hypothetically, if a Golf driver really goes for it on the exit of a round about, then the Skoda can keep up with him and within no time at all, if either driver consults their speedo they will both be showing exactly the same, very significant, multi-digit figure. Ahem. If you buy one of these, I would strongly advise being careful, because there are forward facing speed cameras along that stretch of dual carriageway. Although the brakes are also excellent.
But there is really no need for all this thrashing about. The Octavia, in VRS trim, cruises smoothly, quietly along motorways with the refinement of a Mercedes E-Class, or maybe better. The sports seats provide tremendous lateral support, and have the kind of firmness without austerity that marks out quality manufacturing and design.
These marks of sophistication, backed up by all the luxury gadgets you can name – from climate control to Sat Nav - may seem at odds with it’s boy racer image. But that’s purely down to the colour and here’s a lesson for any savvy used car buyer.
In yellow this car screams, NUTCASE. But the lawyer who uses the same car park as me took the metallic solver option – like the unmarked Police cars – and his car, which is exactly the same in all other ways makes him look frugal and just a bit dull. Only he knows how much fun his commute is.
I also saw a slightly dirty red one, on a driveway in Cumbria that, while clearly better than the bog standard model National Rent A Car order, looked nothing special.
Which one will sell on more easily? Well, I’m not sure. There’s always another nutcase who wants something that’s a bit of a laugh. But they may also want a deal to help them over their nerves of driving something so ostentatious. Whereas the metallic silver, well that might be a bit too far the other way. So that leaves the red one, which felt about right to me.
What’s the market like?
There are around 2,500 general Skoda Octavias on the general market, 3-400 are VRS. About 50 red, under 10 in yellow and maybe 100 silver (or the same again in black). Other colours are available. The cheapest on the market are 6 years old and £2,500+, the most expensive are ex-demonstrators for £19,000 (saving a couple of thousand over a new car), but the real bargain deals are 20,000 miles, 2 year old cars for around £13,000.
What else can this budget buy?
A 2 year old Skoda Octavia VRS for £13,000 puts you in direct competition with  3 year old Golf GTis, 2 or 3 year old Ford Focus ST-2s and maybe the odd Subaru Impreza.
The key differences are, taking that list respectively, that the Skoda is bigger, better made, more refined.
Summary
The Skoda Octavia is a terrific all rounder in VRS trim – refinement, space and performance at a great price.
Words: Matthew Tumbridge

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