The 2015 ŠKODA Octavia vRS Diesel Estate
Ok, so, firstly the badge conscious motorist should really be a thing of the past, as there are very few “bad” cars made anymore. To prove this, many brands which have previously been seen as lesser or budget options, are now becoming more common place on our roads. Cars like Kia for instance now come with 7 year warranties and score well in safety ratings. However, I was more than a little surprised recently, when asked to review the best diesel estate car for £27k on P11D value, that also had a CO2 out-put of less than 125g/km, a good load space and a decent residual after 5 years.
My first thoughts were simple…yawn! This was not a track day tool or apex clipping super car, it was essentially what in the 80’s we would have called a “rep-mobile”. The usual suspects were quickly discarded as getting into a high end German car with these parameters is like trying to get a selfie with kim kardashian…ok…bad example… but essentially, the Mercedes, BMW, Audi and even VW offerings were just too far out of reach, which when your spending over £25k is quite surprising! Whilst it’s true that if you pushed for a deal you’d probably just about scrape in under the wire, you’d be left with a bottom of the range car, where half the buttons on the dash are blanked out!
So, that’s all the designer handbag’s out…they are so last season anyway…so what does that leave us with? Ford and Vauxhall obviously, offerings from Japan in particular Toyota and Honda with perhaps a Chrysler thrown into the mix for good measure..especially if you want a car so big you basically just get in the front door and then out of the back and you’ve reached your destination! Oh..and of course..one of the lesser mortals in the VAG line up…ŠKODA.
Before you totally loose interest here, please remember that one of the criteria was a car which would be kept for 5 years. So, whilst you could go for any of the makes mentioned, whichever you choose is going to stay with you like a teenage child and whilst you may love it when it’s all new and shiny, come the day it’s time to let it move out and face the world on it’s own, you don’t want to be changing your address in secret so it can’t find it’s way back to your wallet!…I digress.
This is where the Hot Diesels come into their own. Some of these manufacturers produce cars which tick all the boxes and look more like pace cars than family movers. The new ŠKODA Octavia vRS Estate Diesel is one such car. For £24.705 you get a fantastic driving experience coupled with perfect every day practicality, German engineering, 61.4 mpg and most importantly, close on 200bhp! Now, whilst the Ford Focus ST will deliver slightly more bang for your buck.. at this price you’ll be at the lower end of the model range, not at the top end like the vRS. Designed with a statement that lets you know what it’s all about from the get go, the exterior boasts a rear spoiler, front and rear diffusers and twin stainless steel exhaust pipes along with the Bi-Xenon lights with LED daytime running lights, all of which point towards the performance capability of the vRS. The front of the car is dominated by the characteristic ŠKODA front grille sporting the vRS badge, distinctive honeycomb air intakes, and a new vRS-styled front bumper. This is a very pretty car!
The interior of the vRS is also styled to provide an adrenalin pumping appearance with sculptured sports seats, stainless steel pedals, a 3-spoke leather steering wheel and vRS kick plates. At this price, you’ll also get a full compliment of stitched, two tone leather, sat-nav and thankfully… a dash full of fully working switches! True, the interior materials may not be quite as swanky as the new Golf and you may not have a taste for fake carbon fiber, but all in all this is a cockpit which would be at home in a car almost twice this money!
Driving this car is a total joy. the engine is responsive, even in economy mode and the suspension and brakes are more than capable, even during spirited moments when your late for your next appointment. The dash is very well laid out and the sports dial are easy to read. The car tested was a 6 speed manual but to be honest, I’d be very tempted to try and get the new DSG system transmission in under the wire. The more you drive this new vRS, the more you forget it’s badge and the more you remember it’s heritage. The cabin is roomy and load capacity and rear leg room is better than the competition. The engine is strong and the transmission smooth and able…with all that BHP on tap too…it’s easy to let it get away with you, but the Hydraulic dual-diagonal circuit braking system with vacuum assistance pulls you up strongly with great feed back from the MacPherson suspension and it’s lower triangular links and torsion stabilizers. This is with out a doubt, a drivers car with easily enough room for the wife and kids and whatever else you’d like to take with you.
So..in conclusion, I’m going to say that within this set of parameters, the new Octavia vRS is a clear winner. True, the Ford is quicker, the Honda is cheaper, the Toyota is slightly more fugal and the Chrysler is..bigger. But as an all round package, the 2015 ŠKODA Octavia vRS Diesel Estate would be my choice. If you can get past the stigma of the badge, just remember that this is basically a VW in disguise and you get all the associated build quality and residual value that you would expect in a much higher priced car..oh…and when you shut the door, it sounds just like a Golf!