FORGET for a moment that it's a budget brand - sorry, high value - and forget it's powered by diesel, that thick stuff that's now regarded as the Devil's agent.
And just look at, then drive the current Skoda Octavia in sporty vRS TDI guise. With a sleek profile. Dominant black grille and squat stance, it's every bit a match to the posher Audis and worthy VWs that share the same parentage.
In fact the Octavia vRS, whether you choose a petrol or a diesel, measures up well to most of the warm hatch opposition in terms of performance and handling. And definitely beats all oncomers in terms of passenger and boot space.
The vRS 2.0 TDI gets the group's well used 2.0litre, four cylinder turbo engine that also appears in the Audi A4, Passat and Golf. With a useful 197bhp on tap, and coupled to a seven speed, dual clutch auto it delivers enough punch for most and will accelerated to 62mph in below seven seconds.
You'll get a tad more poke from some petrol rivals, but the extra high gear thrust of the turbo-diesel is more useful in everyday motoring.
Further usability and adhesion is offered by the four-wheel-drive system which means there's never a problem putting the power on the road.
The cabin, though roomy, is a shade drab with lots of dark plastic which, however, is heavy duty and of decent quality. Front bucket seats trimmed with Alcantara are supremely comfortable and keep you in place during the swift cornering of which this Skoda is capable..
There's a long list of standard equipment - dual-zone climate, adaptive cruise control, heated front seats, LED headlights and 10-inch touchscreen.
The Octavia is one of the few family hatches near the price that allows rear seat passengers to stretch their legs out. The boot, too, is way larger than average being capable of soaking up 600litres of luggage with rear seats in place and 1,555litres when they are folded down.
Front door bins are generously proportioned and there's a big storage box under the centre armrest. This is chilled so snacks can be kept cool.
As you'd expect, cornering is well controlled and tenacious with only limited body roll. Some bumps and road irregularities are transmitted to the cabin, but generally comfort levels are good by performance car standards.
Less satisfactory is the exhaust and engine noise which can become wearing over long distances. Possibly, the marketing people have chosen not to have this engineered out, on the basis that it might appeal to boy racers...
Steering is light enough but there's a degree of road feel that's often absent in some VW Group products.
Despite its strong performance and sporty handling, the vRS is pleasingly economical. On several more gentle runs we managed to top the 50mpg mark. And even driving hard, making full use of the power consumption remained comfortably above 35mpg.