SKODA has launched the fourth-generation version of its flagship Octavia vRS in hatch or estate body styles and customers have more choice, more power and more on-board technology to enjoy.
With almost 20 per cent of all Octavia models sold in the UK carrying the sporty vRS badging, it's an area where the Czech car maker had to get everything spot on - and they have done just that.
It has been launched powered by a 245PS 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine matched to a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox and that's the model we tried in spacious Estate guise.
Costing, £33,515 (£35,040 with options), the car could complete the 0-62mph sprint in 6.7 seconds, maxed out at 155mph and delivered a combined 40.4mpg with carbon emissions of 159g/km.
The new five-door model looks sharper in its styling with unique front and rear bumper designs incorporating lots of black details. There is a double-slat radiator grille, lower air diffuser, distinctive air curtains above the front fog lights with black door mirrors, window frames and roof rails.
The LED matrix headlights off excellent illumination at night and there are chrome exhaust pipes, lots of vRS badging and 19-inch alloys with red brake calipers to complete the muscular appearance.
Move inside and the black upholstered seats along with the three-spoke sports steering wheel have vRS badging and there are carbon decorative strips, black headlining and rear privacy glass to continue the darkened theme.
There is a wealth of on-board technology to explore with the likes of a Columbus navigation system with 10-inch touchscreen, SmartLink for Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink phone connectivity, a virtual cockpit with 10.25-inch display, DAB radio, heated seats, dual-zone air conditioning and ambient lighting.
When it comes to performance, the Octavia Estate vRS delivers the driving dynamics to suitably match the styling. The acceleration is sharp out of the blocks and the road holding is confident into bends. There is a constant supply of power to make light work of overtaking and the car also has sports suspension which is 15mm lower than on a standard Octavia.
It cruises at motorway speeds but is agile in town centres with excellent all-round visibility.
The steering is nicely weighted and there are driving modes called Eco, Normal, Sport and Individual that alter the car's handling characteristics, plus steering wheel paddles to offer extra driver engagement. The cabin is beautifully insulated against road surface and engine noise.
Comfort levels are high and there is ample room for five occupants to fit inside the car without too much fuss, along with Isofix fixtures if a child seat needs securing.
The latest Octavia has grown slightly in its size too which means occupants benefit from extra room inside the car, and the boot capacity on the Estate has increased by an additional 30 litres to 640 litres making it the largest in the segment.
In addition, there are numerous storage compartments scattered throughout the cabin, including a central cubby box, front and rear cup holders, door bins, a glovebox, sunglasses holder, a secret compartment beside the driver's right knee, seat back pockets with a separate area to store mobile phones and the traditional Skoda Simply Clever touches such as an umbrella in the driver's door and ice scarper in the fuel cap cover.
The Octavia Estate vRS is packed with safety kit too which helped it gain a maximum five stars when tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating.