Skoda Octavia Estate

vRS 2.0 TDI 4x4 DSG

Skoda Octavia vRS Estate, front
Skoda Octavia Estate, 2017, rear
Skoda Octavia vRS 245 Estate, 2018, side
Skoda Octavia vRS 245 Estate, 2018, front
Skoda Octavia estate vRS 245, 2017, rear
Skoda Octavia vRS 245, estate, rear
Skoda Octavia Estate, 2017, rear seats
Skoda Octavia Estate, 2017, boot
Skoda Octavia vRS Estate, interior
Skoda Octavia vRS 245 Estate, 2018, interior

IT'S almost certainly the case that most Skoda Octavia owners buy their cars with their head rather than their heart.

After all, Skodas are great value for money, immensely roomy, practical and not-half bad to drive. So what is there not to like...

Well, very little - maybe the cabin is a bit plain Jane, but so what. The strange thing is that the more time you spend behind the wheel of the Octavia - particularly the vRS Estate I've been driving - the more you like it.

Not just for its Aldi-like value (and I have to admit a certain smug conceit here), but for its own intrinsic qualities.

Here is a decent sized family car which looks pretty, whacks along as fast as most Beemers yet consumes fuel at the same miserly rate as a MINI yet boasts about double the floorspace. And all this for a tad more than £30,000.

The initials vRS mark it out as Skoda's version of a GTI or an ST if you are Ford fan. Under the bonnet is a 2.0-litre, 181bhp turbo diesel which gives you enough thrust to polish of 60mph in around eight seconds and go on to a max of around double the national speed limit.

It's a well used engine that's seen widely across the VW group and combines plenty of high-gear pull with really frugal thirst - ideal for busy families in a rush. It's not the most refined of diesels with a bit of an agricultural throb at low revs, but it quietens down appreciably on the move.

In estate car form, there's more cabin space than any of its rivals. Even in the back rear seat passengers have room to stretch out their legs and luggage space at 610 litres easily beats the competition, although the floor isn't completely flat. With rear seats folded there's 1,740 litres of cargo room.

A few vRS logo are sprinkled around the interior, but that apart, the decor is fairly unspectacular although the finish and robustness of the switchgear can't be faulted.

For a family car, the vRS is stiffly sprung emphasising the model's sporty nature. The quicker you go, the more the lack of cornering roll is appreciated. And while it's not quite so athletic as its sporty Golf brethren, handling is sharp and satisifying.

My car had optional DSG automatic transmission which is strongly recommended - not only for easing tedious commuter runs but to maximise the high torque performance. It was also the 4x4 version offering extra traction in slippery conditions.

Considering the huge reserves of performance, its ability to squeeze out more than 40mpg during swift commuter driving is quite an achievement. Cross-country running on a lighter throttle is likely to result in around the 50mpg mark.

FAST FACTS

Skoda Octavia Estate vRS 2.0 TDI 4x4 DSG

Price: £30,280

Mechanical: 181bhp, 1,998cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 139mph

0-62mph: 7.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 55.4

Insurance Group: 26

C02 emissions: 136g/km

Bik rating: 33%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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