I have just finished my seven-month stint with my Skoda Octavia VRS. In that period it has covered 1,000s of miles all over the country, joined us on pretty much every shoot we’ve been on and carried all sorts in the boot.
To give you an idea of how much use this noble steed has enjoyed, over seven months it’s covered 11,506 miles. The 2.0-litre inline-four turbo diesel engine has proven to be plenty frugal in that time too. Initially, I’d got the average up to about 49mpg, but during the (thankfully brief) UK fuel crisis, I started thinking about how I could improve that and stop less. I was managed to get that figure up to 53.5mpg - anything to keep away from those massive queues at the pumps!
For me, the Octavia’s true moment of glory was its trip to the Curborough Sprint Course. It laid down a benchmark time of 39.17 seconds for our £1 Volvo to try and beat. That’s a quicker time than we set with a Toyota GT86 a few years ago, and one that the Volvo wasn’t able to beat even after Alex and Gareth stripped 369kg from it.
Alex was impressed with how the mighty Skoda handled itself on track, and from the outside, it certainly looked tidy despite the way it was being thrown around. I can’t imagine many vRS TDI owners will take them on track, but it’s nice to know the car can handle it.
I’ve made full use of the Octavia’s massive boot, which expands to 1,700 litres with the rear seats folded flat. As mentioned in my first Octavia update, it carried a lot of timber for me, making my garden renovation project a whole lot easier. It’s frequently been filled up with our camera gear, and also a full-size fridge/freezer. I’ve even managed to get a whole sofa in it. Were it not for the Octavia, I’d have probably had to hire a van at least a couple of times this year.
When I originally took the keys I was pretty sure it’d provide all the power I’d ever need, and I was right. The TDI engine is good for 196bhp and 295lb ft of torque, and you can use all of that whether it’s wet or dry out since this is the all-wheel drive version. The 0-62mph time is 6.8 seconds, which isn’t far off the far less economical petrol version.
It’s not been an entirely positive experience, though. The climate control has been an ever-present bugbear over my seven months with the car - constantly having to do it through the infotainment system to change settings is nonsensical but sadly where most cars are heading it seems.
I was interested by Chris Harris’ tweet about this recently where. He raised a good point about the safety aspect of this - it doesn’t seem right that simply changing climate settings requires similar eye contact to fiddling with a phone, the latter being illegal when driving.
My other main annoyance concerns the dual-clutch ‘DSG’ automatic gearbox. Yes, it’s smooth for the most part and changes gears quickly, but it’s also really sluggish when pulling away at roundabouts and junctions. You have to wait for a bigger gap than you might otherwise to avoid annoying other road users.
On the whole, though, I’ve loved the time I’ve had with the VRS - we’ve really put it through its paces in all aspects and rarely do you find fault with it. Thank you, Octavia, you’ll never know how helpful you were. Next, I’ll be getting reacquainted with an old friend…a Kodiaq.