2017 Skoda Octavia vRS
The Octavia vRS gets a power boostby Robert Moore, on
For a while, Skoda was soldering on as a dated company that produced less-than-modern vehicles, but all that changed in 1996 when the brand introduced the Skoda Octavia. The car has since gone through a couple of redesigns and, for the 2017 model year, it went through a facelift. This facelift brought an even more modern design outside while upping the Octavia’s interior game and bringing some updates to the powertrain department as well. Skoda revealed the facelifted Octavia back in November of 2016, and just over a month later, the brand announced a range-topping version of its resident four-door: the Octavia vRS. The vRS brings a more aggressive set of fascias on the outside, some performance-focused tweaks to the chassis and suspension, and a small increase in power that’s enough to make it the “fastest series-production model in the history of the Octavia.”
Needless to say, Skoda is really excited about its new vRS, and in all honesty, it probably should be. But, you really need a trained eye and a good sense of logic to get through all of the PR talk that comes along with the announcement for this new “performance” model. Highlights do include an increase in 10 horsepower over that of the standard model, a slightly lowered suspension system, and it even comes stock with a pair of 18-inch wheels that can be swapped out for 19-inch models if you desire to do so.
All told, the vRS looks to be a fairly decent little compact car, and its looks certainly float the bill for something that will be passed off as a range-topping model. But, is there more to it than what meets the eye? Well, let’s dive on in and talk a little more about it.
Continue reading to learn more about the Skoda Octavia vRS.
2017 Skoda Octavia vRS
Compared to the standard Octavia (left,) the vRS brings a couple of interesting changes to the into the mix. The biggest change comes in the form of new and aggressive fascias that give the Octavia a more menacing appearance. Instead of having a near identical fascia to the Jetta, the vRS now gets a large air dam in the middle that is flanked by a pair of cutouts that similar corner air intakes. While the look nice, they are far from functional as a closer look reveals that they are blocked off from the rear. The air dam and this simulated corner vents do get a honeycomb mesh insert to add to the car’s sporty appearance. The fog lights that are integrated into each of the simulated corner vents are thinner and longer than those on the standard model and appear to be LED in nature. The only other difference up front is the black surround for the radiator grille, which also happens to sport a new vRS badge.
The biggest change comes in the form of new and aggressive fascias that give the Octavia a more menacing appearance.
Moving over to the side profile, the vRS sees no major changes. The side view mirrors as still painted gloss black and Skoda didn’t see fit to add on more aggressive side skirts either. The trim around the windows has been painted gloss black, replacing the chrome trim found on the standard model. The only other news here is the pair of 18-inch wheels wrapped in relatively thin tires, but if you’re one for bigger wheels, you can opt for a set of 19-inch rollers at a premium, of course. Behind those wheels sit red brake calipers to help give the side profile that sporty look everybody wants these days.
Changes to the rear are a little more noticeable than on the sides, and it’s really not that bad, but there are only a few things really going on back here. First off, you’ll notice that both estate and hatchback versions come standard with a sporty little spoiler – something that isn’t available as standard on the non-vRS models. The taillights and decklid remain the same, but the rear fascia certainly has a bit of flare to it. First, that sculpted line that runs the width of the fascia is gone as are the small reflectors in each corner. Instead, the fascia is relatively smooth but features a much wider and taller, diffuser-like insert with a single but full-width reflector on top. In each corner, the standard exhaust outlets have been replaced with chrome rectangular units. All told, it’s really not too bad, and the vRS has just enough going on to make it desirable over its lower-range brethren.
While the Octavia vRS actually looks like a sedan thanks to its design characteristics, it’s actually a five-door hatch, which means it actually has some pretty decent competition. One such competitor is the Ford Focus ST. It too is available in five-door hatch and estate form, however, to find something that really competes, you’ll need to step past the entry-level model and go with the Focus ST-2 or ST-3. On the outside, the Focus ST is actually a little more aggressive and more sculpted than the vRS with an overall sportier look all the way around. It’s fake corner air intakes are wider but shorter but, like the vRS, house a pair of LED fog lights. The exterior light units are also much better looking and sleeker while the rear end sports a center-mounted exhaust outlet for an exotic touch.
On the other hand, you could look to the Volkswagen Golf as a five-door competitor. It sports more traditional hatchback styling and really falls into the same level of aggressiveness as the vRS. When it comes to performance-based models, you’ll find that the Golf is a little more expensive if you’re looking for something to compete with the vRS as far as power goes. But, if power doesn’t matter, you can go with the entry-level performance variant known as the Golf GTD in the U.K. It has a wide-mouth air dam down below with a unique styling in each corner that uses a recessed area to house the fog lamps and a set of three horizontal slats for extra character. The headlights and taillights are dominantly larger than those of the vRS, but look more natural with the overall look of the car. The side profile and rear end are rather undramatic as far as looks go, but that’s just the way the Golf is designed.
|Ford Focus ST||Volkswagen Golf||Skoda Octavia vRS|
Skoda has yet to release images of the vRS’ interior, but it did fill us in on a little bit of what you can expect to see inside. For the most part, it will mirror the standard model but will get a special set of vRS-Sport seats that will have increased lateral support over that of those in the standard model. They are wrapped in a combination of leather and cloth, but Skoda says they can be had with Alcantara as an option. The multifunction steering wheel has a perforated, leather crown on top and is equipped with paddle shifters on models that happen to have the DSG transmission. Around the cabin, you’ll find ambient lighting as a standard feature as well as illuminated door handles and aluminum pedals. The door sill trim features a vRS logo on them, so everyone knows you have the range-topping model.
Note: Standard Octavia interior shown here.
For the most part, it will mirror the standard model but will get a special set of vRS-Sport seats that will have increased lateral support over that of those in the standard model.
While those are the things that come as add-ons for the vRS model, there’s still a lot more going on inside the cabin. For instance, there is an umbrella stashed under the front seat, and the estate version gets a removable LED light in the rear. Ahead of the steering wheel sits an updated instrument cluster with a very sporty look and two large gauges – a speedometer and tachometer. Those are divided by a central TFT screen that acts as a driver information center. Like the standard Octavia, the vRS can be had with three different infotainment systems but, since the vRS is the range-topping model, you’re better off opting for the top-range Columbus system with a 9.2-inch touchscreen display, Wi-Fi hotspot, and 4G LTE internet connection. Navigation should be standard for the vRS. All told, the vRS brings the changes needed to make the Octavia’s interior about as desirable as possible and nobody could blame you for levering the decision to buy based on the interior amenities afforded by the range-topper.
When it comes to the Focus ST, there’s actually a lot going on inside. To start off, there’s a large center stack with an overhang that houses the infotainment display. The center stack houses a few controls for the system as well as a pair of vertically oriented HVAC vents. Above the center stack, there’s a small opening that houses three small gauges. The instrument cluster features a large, analog gauge in each corner with two small gauges in the lower center section. In the upper center section, there’s a wide TFT screen to display all pertinent information for the driver. Sport seats come standard while you also get a flat bottom “ST” steering wheel and aluminum pedals.
Optioning to buy the Volkswagen Golf, will give you more of a minimalist interior. So, if that’s your thing, look no further. The dash is rather uneventful and is flat not only on top but on the face as well. The center stack is also squared off with two horizontal vents on top and an infotainment display just down below. There is a column of buttons on each side along with a knob. The HVAC controls are located just below the infotainment system but is a stand alone unit. The gear shifter sits farther forward on the center console. The instrument cluster features two large gauges with a tall TFT screen in the middle. You do get a flat-bottom steering wheel, but the front seats don’t offer as much support. The door trim panels and overall feel is also kept to a dull roar, so it really fits in well with the minimalist nature you might be looking for.
Skoda is offering two engine options for the hatchback and the estate. First off, we’ll talk about the diesel. It’s a 2.0-liter TDI that delivers 184 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Maximum torque is available at a relatively low 1,750 rpm – not bad. This engine can be paired with a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG transmission that delivers power to the front wheels. But, there’s also the option for all-wheel drive if you’re willing to go with the six-speed DSG. You can’t say Skoda isn’t trying on this one; that’s for sure. Skoda hasn’t said anything about performance and economy figures when equipped with the DSG, but when equipped with the manual transmission in hatchback form, the TDI pushes the vRS up to 62 mph in 7.9 seconds on the way to a top speed of 144 mph. Fuel consumption is rated at 62.8 mpg while emissions output comes in at 119 grams of CO2 per kilometer.
Moving over to the gasoline drinker, Skoda is proud to tell you that its 2.0-liter TSI has been upgraded to deliver an extra 7 kW or 10 horsepower, bringing the total up to 230 ponies. To quote the PR talk that came along with the announcement, that makes the new vRS the “most powerful and fastest series-production model in the history of the Octavia.” With 230 horsepower on tap, the TSI also delivers a decent 258 pound-feet of torque between 1,500 and 4,600 rpm. That’s only 22 pound-feet shy of that produced by the TDI version, which is actually quite admirable when you think about it. That extra power and torque afforded by the TSI enables the hatchback to make the 62-mph sprint in 6.7 seconds on the way to a top speed of 155 mph. It is able to achieve 43.4 mph but expels 149 grams of CO2 per kilometer. Obviously, the fuel economy and the emissions output are worse than that of the diesel, but that’s the price you have to learn to live with if you want the extra power. vRS models equipped with the TSI engine come standard with a six-speed manual gearbox, but the six-speed DSG is optional. Oddly, Skoda hasn’t said whether or not the TSI-powered versions will be available with all-wheel drive, but considering both TSI and TDI can mate to the same DSG, it’s quite possible that the gasoline-drinkers can be optioned with all-wheel drive as well.
But, the vRS isn’t all about engine and power. To help keep everything from getting squirrely, especially the TSI-equipped models, Skoda has thrown in a sport suspension system that drops the ride height by nearly 0.6 inches. The rear track has also been increased by 1.18 inches. Skoda didn’t mention anything about any brake upgrades, but the calipers have been painted red to help give the exterior a sportier appearance. As far as computerized controls go, you’ll find the vRS equipped with progressive steering, and performance mode select. The latter can be optioned with a “performance sound generator.” Other controls include electronic stability control and dynamic chassis control. That DCC system gives you the option to choose between different driving modes that include Comfort, Normal, and Sport modes. Obviously, comfort mode will soften the suspension to give a more luxurious ride while Sport mode will stiffen things up and reduce body roll during more spirited driving. Normal mode should keep things leveled out right in the middle.
On the safety front, the vRS gets several assistance features, including Trailer Assist, Blind Spot Detect, Rear Traffic Alert, and Crew Protect Assist. The latter is designed to close windows and the sunroof in the event on an imminent accident, tighten seatbelts (think pretensioners) and knows when to do so based on information received from the emergency braking and predicted pedestrian protection systems.
When it comes to the Focus ST, it’s much like the vRS – you get to choose between a diesel drinker or a gasoline drinker. On the diesel front, you get a 2.0-liter Diesel that delivers 182 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Diesel equipped models can be had with a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed powershift gearbox. According to Ford’s U.K. website, the diesel powerplant can push the ST2 five-door up to 62 mph in 7.7 seconds on the way to a limited top speed of 135 mph. Maximum torque is delivered between 2,000 and 2,750 rpm. It should also be noted that the ST six-speed has its own special gear set compared to other focus models, so it is gear specifically for performance and spirited driving. Moving over to the gasoline unit, you’ll find a 2.0-liter EcoBoost that delivers 246.58 horsepower and 340 pound-feet of torque. Ford claims that the five-door hatch can hit 62 mph in as quick as 6.5 seconds and is limited to a top speed of 154 mph. The gasoline drinker is only available with a six-speed manual.
If you’re thinking about the Golf, and want a diesel engine, then the Golf GTD will float the bill. It comes standard with a 2.0-liter TDI that delivers 181 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. It can be had with a six-speed manual or a six-speed DSG gearbox and can hit 62 mph in 7.5 seconds – that’s a little faster than the diesel-powered ST2 0.4-seconds fast that the diesel-powered vRS. Top speed for the diesel drinker is limited to 143 mph. If you want a gasoline-powered Golf that will offer the same type of performance as the vRS, you’ll have to step up to the Golf GTI that costs a bit more. It is powered by a 2.0-liter gasoline unit that delivers 216 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. While it might be a little more expensive and has a little less power than the vRS, it can hit 62 mph in 6.5 seconds (0.2-seconds faster than the vRS) and tops out at 153 mph. Fuel consumption, on the other hand, is way down at just 36.2 mph in urban areas. However, it is rated at 51.4 mpg in “extra urban” area’s so there’s that.
|Ford Focus ST||Volkswagen Golf GTD||Skoda Octavia vRS||Skoda Octavia vRS|
|Engine||2.0L EcoBoost® I-4||2.0-liter TDI||2.0-liter TDI||2.0-liter TSI|
|Horsepower||252 HP @ 5,500 RPM||180 HP @ 3,500 RPM||184 HP||230 HP|
|Torque||270 LB-FT @ 2,500 RPM||280 LB-FT @ 1,750 RPM||280 LB-FT @ 1,750 RPM||258 LB-FT @ 1,500-4,600 RPM|
|Transmission||6-speed manual||6-speed manual||6-speed manual||6-speed manual|
|0 to 60 mph||6.3 seconds||7.5 seconds||7.9 seconds||6.7 seconds|
|Top Speed||154 mph||143 mph||144 mph||155 mph|
|Weight||3,223 Lbs||3,035 Lbs||TBA||TBA|
Skoda didn’t say anything about pricing in its initial release, but a quick visit to Skoda’s U.K. site will tell you all you need to know. According to it, the vRS hatch is retailing for £24,885 while the estate commands £26,110. At current conversion rates, that computes to $30,569 and $32,074, respectively.
|Ford Focus ST-2||£24,745|
|Ford Focus ST-3||£26,795|
|Volkswagen Golf GTD||£26,955|
|Volkswagen Golf GTI||£27,495|
|Skoda Octavia vRS hatchback||£24,885|
|Skoda Octavia vRS estate||£26,110|
The new Civic Si hasn’t even hit dealers yet, so the information we have for it is a little scant. We do know that it will rock a 1.5-liter four-cylinder, but as far as performance goes, Honda has left us in the dark this far. Considering its primary competitors will be the Golf GTI and Focus ST here in the U.S., we’re expecting the U.S. market version to have somewhere around 235 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. That’s a bit of a reach for a 1.5-liter, really, but it’s not out of the question. That would put a 60-mph sprint at around 5.9 to 6.1 seconds and top speed somewhere around 150 mph. Pricing for the Civic Si is expected to be around $29,000 on this side of the pond, so it will likely be the most expensive option out there when comparing to the vRS, Golf, and Focus ST2.
Read our full review on the Honda Civic Si here.
The Octavia vRS is actually a pretty nice car with a decent option for power output, but for those looking at the non-estate model, you’ll have to get past the fact that it looks more like a sedan than a hatchback. Of course, don’t let the looks fool you because it really does have a hatchback there, it’s just oriented a little different than the other hot hatches out there. And, the vRS actually seems to be priced just right to compete, and is actually cheaper than the Golf models and definitely the Civic Si. I’m curious to see how the car actually performs, though, as the competition generally puts out better performance numbers – maybe not by much, but if you’re someone who’s into performance, that can make all the difference.