WITH the introduction of its new Octavia vRS model Skoda has truly stepped up a gear in terms of both performance but more importantly refinement.
The vRS has always been synonymous with dynamic performance but now in the fourth generation model - which has just arrived in the UK - it's the quality of the package as a whole which really strikes you.
It's sleek, it's elegant and with its coupe-like lines it's a designer work of art.
Open the door and the interior appearance and quality of materials is equally impressive.
Forget any hard plastic, the dashboard is an exciting mix of Alcantara (a suede-like material) with red saddle stitching on the upper section giving way to a carbon-fibre look on the lower part.
Set in the centre of the dashboard is a 10-inch touch screen for accessing the car's numerous functions as well as the satellite navigation system.
But perhaps the most obvious feature is the lack of a traditional gear shift.
The conventional stick has been replaced by a small machine turned chrome rocker switch to operate the 7-speed DSG automatic box.
It's all been made possible because the new vRS makes use of new shift-by-wire technology eliminating the need for the gear stick to be connected to the gearbox mechanically, thereby freeing up more interior space.
The vRS logo is emblazoned on the backrests of the heated front sports seats - there's a heated steering wheel too by the way - so everyone will know you are driving the Octavia's flagship model.
And from the outside it's easy to spot because the sports chassis lowers the vRS by 15mm and there's a distinctive front and rear bumper design with a lot of black detailing while the mirror housings and window frames are also in gloss black and the brake calipers in red.
The new model is 13mm longer, and 15mm wider than its predecessor which means more interior space for passengers.
And an already enormous luggage area has been increased by 10 litres just in case buyers felt they wanted more even more luggage room while the new car is packed with a host of safety features.
Take the driver's seat and you are looking at Skoda's virtual cockpit, which means you have a vast choice of permutations available to you for the set up of the speedometer, rev counter and on-board computer readouts.
The car driven here also had a head-up display, a £700 optional extra, as well as Dynamic Chassis Control (an extra £1,040) for even more dynamic handling.
On the road the vRS is impressively smooth, quiet and refined while at the same time instantly responsive to the slightest nudge on the accelerator thanks to a 245bhp, 2.0-litre engine.
A choice of driving modes allows you to switch between, eco, comfort, normal, sport, dynamic and individual settings while paddles behind the steering wheel give you the chance to get the most enjoyment from this sporting hot hatch which delivers on every front.
At the same time there's a coasting feature which cuts in when you are driving at a steady pace, giving you better mpg.
And when darkness falls brilliant (literally and metaphorically) LED Matrix headlights - a standard fitting - take the strain out of night time driving.