Skoda’s range-topping liftback goes hybrid, packs a solid punch

The 2020 Skoda Octavia vRS is the high-performance version of the fourth-generation liftback sedan. Available in both sedan and wagon body styles, the 2020 Octavia vRS boasts the sportier, more angular design of the latest Octavia, but the really big news is that it features a hybrid drivetrain. This isn’t surprising given that it shares underpinnings with the latest Volkswagen Golf,, but it’s the first vRS model to sport a form of electrification. The 2020 Octavia vRS iV is the first performance Skoda model with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. It also joins other electrified Octavia models like two mild hybrids and a less powerful plug-in. Let’s find out more about this performance four-door in the review below.

Exterior

  • Beefed-up version of the standard model
  • Black front grille instead of chrome
  • Three-piece bumper vent
  • Honeycomb grilles
  • Unique foglamps
  • LED headlamps
  • Extra fuel cap
  • Bespoke wheels
  • Black spoiler on the trunk lid
  • Bigger diffuser insert
  • Rectangular exhaust pipes
2020 Skoda Octavia vRS iV Exterior
- image 889739
Black grille

Once a mundane looking compact notchback, the Octavia evolved into a hotter looking four-door. The latest generation is by far the hottest when it comes to design, as it’s obviously inspired by vehicles from the Volkswagen and Audi lineups. Sure, the Volkswagen Group has diluted the Octavia a bit, but it’s a small compromise in order to have an affordable four-door that looks better than average. And this new design also benefits the vRS model, which comes with sportier touches front and back.

What sets the 2020 Skoda Octavia vRS apart from the regular model?

2020 Skoda Octavia vRS iV Exterior
- image 889740
RS badges

First up, the front grille, which now features a far more aggressive design with sharp lines, is finished in black instead of chrome. The thin chrome strip in the bumper is also gone on the vRS model, but the entire bumper is actually different. Instead of the really wide, single-piece vent that extends from one corner to the other, the vRS features a three-piece configuration. There’s a wider trapezoidal opening on the center and two almost rectangular cutouts to the sides. Both feature a honeycomb-style structure, but the side vents are actually fake, which looks rather cheap.

The side vents incorporate new foglamps. These are actually similar in shape to those on the standard model, but they’re placed higher in the bumper and feature LED technology as standard. Speaking of which, the headlamps also feature LED lights as standard. The black grille frame on the side vents, the black splitter-like elements at the bottom of the bumper, and the "vRS" badge on the front grille round off the unique front fascia.

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While the front end stands out quite a bit, the profile is virtually identical to the regular Octavia. Only three features set it apart, starting with the black trim for the windows. There’s also a new fuel cap on the right-side front fender, which gives access to the charging port. More importantly, the vRS rides on a bespoke set of alloy wheels that measure 18 inches and are finished in black. Optionally, you can go with 19-inch rollers in a two-tone design that combines black and grey chrome.

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The rear fascia is again very similar to the standard model, as it shares the same two-piece taillights with angular edges and the same shape for the trunk and the bumper. However, the vRS badge adds a black spoiler on the trunk lid (a body-colored one on the wagon version), and fake vents at each corner of the bumper. The diffuser inserts are also bigger than on the standard model and incorporate a pair of rectangular exhaust pipes and a red stripe.

left right

Is the 2020 Skoda Octavia vRS better than the regular Octavia?

2020 Skoda Octavia vRS iV Exterior
- image 889743
LED headlamps

Design-wise, it’s a mild improvement, but it’s everything this car needs to stand out. While it needs to be special compared to other Octavias, the vRS also needs to remain affordable, so that’s why you won’t find too many fancy features or carbon-fiber parts. But for what is supposed to be, the vRS gets the job done.

Interior

  • More upscale
  • Better materials
  • Plenty of tech
  • Relatively large displays
  • Alcantara upper dashboard
  • "vRS" badges
  • Sportier front seats
  • Optional leather
  • Carbon-like trim
  • Massive trunk
2020 Skoda Octavia vRS iV Interior
- image 889747
Sports steering wheel

The Octavia is no longer the spartan sedan from the 1990s. Just like the exterior became hotter, the interior became a bit more upscale. Sure, plastic is still hard, and the quality isn’t as good as in an Audi, but it comes close to a Volkswagen. What’s more, the Octavia is fitted with plenty of tech, and it even includes a big infotainment display and a digital instrument cluster. While these aren’t offered in the cheaper trims, they’re standard in the vRS model.

What sets the 2020 Skoda Octavia vRS apart from the regular model

2020 Skoda Octavia vRS iV Interior
- image 889750
Red stitching

But a bigger screen and a digital instrument cluster aren’t the only features that set the vRS apart. This model also features an all-black interior. Yes, it’s pretty boring if you like lively colors, but automakers usually go with black when they want to suggest sportiness. The reasoning behind this is simple: race cars are usually all-black inside the cabin. BMW does it with its M cars, Audi does the same with the RS models, and GT-badged Porsches have a similar layout, so Skoda is simply jumping on the bandwagon.

Skoda even went as far as to wrap the center section of the dashboard in Alcantara.

This is a welcomed addition in a performance-oriented car, especially since it covers some of the hard plastic that we don’t really like. The steering wheel is wrapped in leather, yet another feature you won’t find in other Octavia models unless you get it from the options list. It also features a "vRS" badge at the bottom at shift paddles for the DSG gearbox.

2020 Skoda Octavia vRS iV Interior
- image 889752
Black interior

The front seats are sportier than the regular Octavia. Unfortunately, they’re not wrapped in leather or Alcantara. Instead, Skoda went with black fabric. However, you can opt for the Ergo seats, which feature both Alcantara and leather, as well as seat-depth adjustment. The seats are also fitted with "RS" logos and stitching in red or sliver-grey. You’ll find the same stitching on the steering wheel, armrests, and dashboard. A pair of aluminum pedals round off the vRS-specific interior.

Skoda has yet to release specific figures for trunk space, but it should be at least as spacious as the old model. The vRS should retain similar figures, despite the extra battery pack. The outgoing Octavia comes in at an impressive 590 liters (20.3 cubic feet) with the rear seats in place. Fold the split rear bench and luggage capacity increases to 1,580 liters (55.8 cubic feet). That’s a lot more than the Volkswagen Golf, a hatchback the Octavia is usually cross-shopped with. The Golf offers 380 liters (13.4 cubic feet) behind the rear seats and 1,270 liters (44.8 cubic feet) behind the front seats. At 590 liters, the Octavia also offers more than the Volkswagen Jetta, a more direct competitor. The Jetta offers 510 liters (18 cubic feet), but total trunk space is far inferior since this vehicle features a traditional trunk lid instead of a tailgate.

Drivetrain

  • No more 2.0-liter four-cylinder
  • 1.4-liter TSI engine
  • 85-kW electric motor
  • Total output at 245 PS
  • Total torque at 400 Nm
  • 0 to 62 in 7.3 seconds
  • Slower than the old model
  • Top speed at 225 km/h
  • Six-speed DSG transmission
  • EV range up to 60 km

The last two generations of the Octavia vRS were fitted with turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines shared with performance-oriented versions of the Volkswagen Golf. The previous Octavia vRS shared underpinnings with the Golf GTI, but Skoda broke ties with this version for the new liftback sedan. No longer based on the GTI, which continues to feature a 2.0-liter four-cylinder mill, the Octavia vRS is based on the Golf GTE, an equally powerful model fitted with a hybrid drivetrain.

The 2.0-liter four-cylinder was ditched in favor of a smaller, 1.4-liter four-banger, but the bundle also includes an electric motor.

The 1.4-liter TSI engine cranks out 150 PS (148 horsepower), while the electric motor comes with 85 kW on tap. Total output is rated at 245 PS and 400 Nm of torque (242 horsepower and 295 pound-feet).

Is the 2020 Skoda Octavia vRS more powerful than the old model?

2020 Skoda Octavia vRS iV Exterior
- image 889742
18-inch wheels

The answer to this question depends on what Octavia vRS we’re comparing the new model too. The standard Octavia vRS came with 220 PS (217 horsepower) on tap, so the new sedan delivers an extra 25 PS (25 horsepower). On the other hand, Skoda also offered a limited-edition RS 245 model with exactly 245 PS (242 horsepower), so we’re not talking about a real improvement in this department. Torque is a bit higher than the old RS 245, rated at 370 Nm (273 pound-feet). That’s an extra 30 Nm (22 pound-feet) for the new Octavia vRS.

Is the 2020 Skoda Octavia vRS more powerful than the Volkswagen Golf GTE?

2020 Volkswagen Golf Exterior
- image 868371

No! They share the same underpinnings and have the exact same output at 245 PS (242 horsepower). They also share the 13-kWh battery and a similar all-electric range of up to 60 km (37 miles) per charge.

Is the 2020 Skoda Octavia vRS quicker than its predecessor?

2020 Skoda Octavia vRS iV Exterior
- image 889741
Sporty front fascia

The Octavia vRS iV hits 62 mph from a standing start in 7.2 seconds. While this is impressive given the output and the size of this sedan, the new vRS is actually slower than its predecessor. It needs an extra 0.7 seconds to hit the benchmark compared to the old RS 245, and it’s slower than the previous, regular Octavia vRS too, which reached 62 mph in 6.9 clicks.

Top speed of the new sedan is rated at 225 km/h (140 mph), and this is again lower than the previous models. The outgoing Octavia vRS tops out at 245 km/h (152 mph), while the RS 245 hits 250 km/h (155 mph). So why is it slower? The electric motor is the culprit here. Although EV power usually means quicker sprints, the Octavia vRS’ drivetrain is probably tuned more toward efficiency rather than full performance. The top speed drop makes sense as hybrids aren’t as fast as conventional models.

Is the 2020 Skoda Octavia vRS notably more powerful than other hybrid Octavia models?

Skoda Octavia
- image 892415

The vRS sits at the top of the lineup and delivers notably more oomph. Of course, it depends on what cars we compare it to. Skoda now offers two mild-hybrid versions that feature a 1.0-liter three-cylinder and a 1.5-liter four-cylinder. The first one generates only 110 PS (108 horsepower), while the second one cranks out 150 PS (148 horsepower). But there’s also a more powerful plug-in hybrid variant that combines the same 1.4-liter four-cylinder gas engine and 85-kW electric motor. This model is rated at 204 PS (201 horsepower), 41 PS (40 horses) below the Octavia vRs.

The hybrid drivetrain mates to a six-speed DSG gearbox. The Octavia vRS also features standard progressive steering and a more dynamic setup for the suspension.

How much does the 2020 Skoda Octavia vRS cost?

2020 Skoda Octavia vRS iV Exterior
- image 889745
Trunk lid spoiler

Pricing for the new Octavia is not yet available, but it’s safe to assume that it will cost a bit more than the outgoing model. While the entry-level model will come in at around £20,000, only marginally more expensive than the outgoing version, the premium could be higher on the vRS variant. That’s because hybrids technology costs a bit more. So while the old vRS comes in at £24,095, the new performance four-door could fetch at least £27,000 before options.

Does the 2020 Skoda Octavia vRS cost more than the competition?

2020 Skoda Octavia vRS iV Interior
- image 889748

We can’t say for sure right now since its competitors, the Volkswagen Golf GTE and the Cupra Leon, aren’t yet available. However, both are likely to cost in excess of £30,000, so the Octavia vRS should be the most affordable choice.

When does the 2020 Skoda Octavia vRS go on sale?

2020 Skoda Octavia vRS iV Exterior
- image 889746

The redesigned Octavia vRS will go on sale in the second quarter of 2020, while deliveries should begin in the second half of the year.

Is the 2020 Skoda Octavia vRS better than the Volkswagen Golf GTE?

2020 Volkswagen Golf Exterior
- image 868372

The Golf GTE is a full-fledged hatchback, so the comparison isn’t 100 percent fair, but it features the same platform and similar technology, so they compete in just about every department. Because drivetrain specs are identical, there’s no decision to take from a performance point of view, but they’re quite different in other aspects. Sure, looks are subjective, and both cars boast modern and attractive designs, but the Golf GTE offers a better interior. The materials are of slightly higher quality, while the GTE also features better infotainment graphics and a bit more tech. On the flip side, the Octavia vRS offers significantly more trunk space, so it’s the better option for a family of three or four and if you’re traveling a lot. Of course, with a sticker that surpasses the £30,000 mark, the Golf GTE is also notably more expensive.

Read our full story on the Volkswagen Golf GTE.

Is the 2020 Skoda Octavia vRS better than the Cupra Leon

2020 Seat Leon
- image 882678

Well, since the Cupra Leon is a re-bodied Golf GTE, the same things apply here. But I would dare say that the Leon is by far the better-looking car in this comparison. If you’re looking for a hatchback with aggressive, angular lines and big diffuser in the rear, Cupra is the way to go. Much like Volkswagen, Cupra is supposed to offer slightly better materials inside and cabin and a bit more tech. The copper details and the really cool wheels make a big difference if you’re looking to stand out. Drivetrain specs are identical to the Octavia vRS and the Golf GTE. The Cupra Leon might be just a tad quicker from 0 to 62 mph, but we won’t know for sure until someone races them together. The Cupra Leon will retail from more than £30,000 before options.

Read our full review of the Cupra Leon.

Conclusion

2020 Skoda Octavia vRS iV Exterior
- image 889744

It’s really great to see the Skoda Octavia vRS live on as a hybrid. While some speculate that Skoda will also launch a gas-only version powered by the 2.0-liter four-cylinder in the Golf GTI, I sincerely hope it won’t happen. Performance cars emit a lot of CO2, so every automaker needs to take solid steps toward electrification. While turning every single performance car into an EV is impossible at this point, turning them into hybrids is doable and the right thing to do. Not only hybrids help reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, but performance remains similar. Sure, the hybrid vRS is more than a half-second slower than the old RS 245 model, but who cares? Also, the Octavia vRS wins big against the competition thanks to its massive trunk.

  • Leave it
    • Maybe not as fancy as the Golf GTE
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
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