Skoda Octavia 1.8T vRS - SKODA OCTAVIA Car Review

Review

Added: 20 Feb 2004
Last update:

SOMETIMES extolling the virtues of Skoda's impressive range of cars can be a bit wearisome.

Get into the 'quality car, value for money' argument in the pub and you'll often be met at the end with a simple, dispiriting - "but it's a Skoda!"

There are some who refuse to let the Czech company out of a doghouse built during the years when motoring horror stories galore were spawned behind the Iron Curtain.

Sales have soared under VW's ownership and tender care, but you sense that Skoda owners still have to fight their corner with vigour when it comes to attacks from friends driving Ford and Vauxhall company cars.

If I had my way I'd make all the bar stool critics test drive the Octavia vRS for a week and defy them not to be impressed with a car that gives you 180bhp for a shade over £15,500.

This is one of the most enjoyable cars I've ever driven. It's as swift as a cheetah with that cat's handling characteristics when cornering.

The 0-62mph figure of 7.9 seconds from the 1.8 turbocharged engine is a good indication of Skoda's intent. The top speed of 146mph may be a shade excessive for British roads but this is one car begging to be let loose on a private track.

The exterior gives no real indication of the beast beneath the bonnet. There's a small spoiler on the back but the Octavia doesn't feel the need to shout about it's performance. What you get is a car that hides a savage heart beneath a stylish, but understated shell.

The interior makes a virtue out of simplicity. The dashboard is clearly laid out with nice looking sporty dials. The air conditioning and the CD/radio systems could be operated by a five-year-old. This I know from personal experience as my son is becoming a bit precocious when it comes to button pressing in new cars.

The front seats are comfortable and, along with the steering wheel, easily adjustable. But the true qualities of this car are only experienced when you start driving it.

Turning the ignition key sets off a smooth rumble that promises much and delivers immediately.

Gear changes are incredibly neat and slick giving the driver a real sense of control. The ride is firm - but not bone-shakingly so. Fling this car into corners and you are rewarded with more grip than a Scotsman's on a five pound note.

But if you simply want to cruise down a motorway the Octavia is more than up to the job.

In short this Skoda is ideal for people desiring a low cost, practical performance car.

The Octavia estate is huge but even the hatchback I drove has a boot Evil Kneivel would struggle to leap across. Rear passenger legroom is slightly squeezed as a result - but not excessively so.

The Octavia gives a good level of protection for the driver and passengers with twin airbags and anti-lock brakes.

There's also side airbag protection and traction control. The car also does a good job of deterring the light-fingered members of society as deadlocks are fitted as standard.

Skoda hits all the right buttons with this car - tell that to your mates in the pub!

FAST FACTS:

Skoda Octavia 1.8T vRS 

Price: £15,535

Mechanical: 180bhp, 1,781cc 4 cyl petrol driving front wheels via five speed manual transmission

Max Speed: 146mph

0-62mph: 7.9 secs

Combined mpg: 35.3mpg

Insurance Group: 8

CO2 emissions: 192g/km

BIK rating: 22%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles; 10yrs anti-rust; 3yrs paintwork

Words: Peter Keenan

Keywords: SKODA, OCTAVIA