By Mike Torpey on 2017-03-17 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Skoda Octavia vRS
TOP notch performance and dynamics can prove an intoxicating mix - and not something you generally associate with family-friendly practicality.
Combine these virtues and you have a blueprint for success, a formula Skoda has used to its advantage with its sporting flagship Octavia vRS.
The vRS, which has actually been burning up UK roads for 15 years, is the most powerful vRS model the Volkswagen-owned Czech company has ever offered.
And in its latest, updated, form the modified 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine beneath its bonnet develops a hefty 230PS - some 10PS more than the standard vRS model.
We are talking serious performance here, with figures of 0-62 in 6.7 seconds and on to a potential top speed of 155mph for cars with the six-speed manual gearbox while those equipped with a DSG twin clutch transmission are just a split-second slower.
The technical stuff that helps you exploit the car's potential includes a new front locking differential originally developed for Skoda's rally programme.
It means that, when needed, all the car's engine torque can be directed to one front wheel, providing more traction and grip to exit a corner.
There's also a performance mode selection set-up allowing drivers to choose between Normal, Eco and Sport mode, the latter of which growls up the engine note.
You also get a a lower ride height than standard Octavia models as well as a progressive steering system that varies the amount of lock required according to road speed.
The upshot is a car that's both exciting and agile to drive, while still returning an official 45.6 miles per gallon, though my own fuel return was closer to 35mpg.
That said, the emphasis may be on dynamics and grunt but practicality isn't overlooked - not when you have a hatchback offering 590 litres of boot space with the rear seats in position and 1,580 litres with them folded.
Go for the estate variant and the capacity jumps to 610 litres of luggage room, rising to 1,740 folded.
The Octavia's cabin is comfortable, spacious and welcoming - and features stuff like an instrument binnacle with white dials, a colour trip computer with Lap Timer and a three-spoke leather steering wheel with red stitching.
Perforated leather heated sports seats are also standard, and feature a three-way memory function plus coloured vRS logos embossed in the seats.
The new vRS 230 looks the part too, courtesy of 19-inch Xtreme Black alloy wheels - even if they do look a bit 1970s - Black design door mirrors and front grille, Xenon lights with black backfills and grille badging that incorporates a black ‘V' into the logo.
Estate versions come with black roof rails, while all models also feature black gloss exhaust tailpipes as standard.
Skoda Octavia vRS 230
Mechanical: 230PS, 1984cc, 4-cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via six-speed manual transmission
Max Speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 6.7 seconds
Combined MPG: 45.6
Insurance Group: 30
C02 emissions: 142g/km
Bik rating: 25%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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