Skoda has long been onto a winner with the vRS performance brand. Serving up affordable sportiness with the sort of leftfield image enthusiasts like, it was a bit of a cult icon when launched over a decade ago and has today developed into a real GTI alternative.
Trouble is, Skoda’s recently been concentrating on reinforcing its natural position in the Volkswagen Group hierarchy – where price and value come first. This means the vRS range has been neglected as the firm has rolled out new models such as the Kodiaq and new Karoq. It’s even axed the Fabia vRS performance supermini entirely.
Which means it’s down to the sole remaining vRS, the Octavia, to carry the hot variant for now. Luckily, Skoda has now proven it’s not forgotten the brand by launching a facelifted vRS, complete with a potent 242bhp version sitting above the regular 227bhp version.
The changes are surprisingly extensive. Skoda’s fitted a new turbo, fuel injectors, manifold, pistons, timing chain, oil pump and fuel pump. It also has an electronic differential, seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and, outside, a distinctive set of 19in alloys. Sounds quite the haul for a £2500 premium over the standard model.
As the rest of the car is similar to the normal vRS, it generally drives in a similar way. The ride is supple, the engine is free-revving and, although the difference in acceleration isn’t all that great over the vRS 230 (just 0.1sec faster 0-62mph), it’s still an interesting step up – because of its electronic differential.
This transfers the engine’s power to the ground much more cleanly out of corners, and the front is less likely to push on when you press on. It feels more planted and incisive, meaning the only slight disappointment is a lack of steering feel. Although pressing the vRS button on the centre console to switch from the regular modes into Sport does weigh up the steering, it doesn’t actually add any more feel.
Normal vRS have a six-speed DSG automatic option, making the seven-speed unit offered with the vRS 245 an obvious improvement. It too is generally impressive, with only a slight lack of responsiveness on kickdown being an obvious grumble. Better fuel economy than the manual may offset this: it does 44.1mpg combined, instead of 42.8mpg.
There’s plenty to like with the range-topping vRS, particularly as the facelifted cabin enhances its humungous space and comfort with an improved infotainment system that has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In this vRS 245 guise, it’s not only the fastest hot Skoda ever, it’s also the most complete – and certainly worth the extra over the vRS 230.
Skoda Octavia vRS 245 DSG
On sale Now
Engine 4 cyls, 1968cc, turbo, petrol
Power 242bhp at 5000rp
Torque 273lb ft at 1600rpm
Kerb weight 1390kg
Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch automatic
Top speed 155mph
Economy 44.1mpg (combined)
CO2/tax band 146g/km, 28%
Rob Adams is a writer for AutoCar.
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