Our country has had its fair bit of interaction with the Volkswagen marquee, Skoda. When introduced, the Octavia was the first car that lead the charge for VW in India. Subsequently, Skoda launched the Laura, Superb, Yeti and the Rapid. All these wore their cool, traditional and non-controversial Czech attire with engines and body pinning’s from their VW cousins. But since some time there has been a detachment. Are Skoda’s cooler than their cousins? Well, there is one I know. It’s the all-new 2017 Skoda Octavia vRS. But before I introduce you to this rebellious and non-traditional Skoda, let’s just talk about the vRS badging and what it means to us Indians.
Skoda’s were and are still one of the most pleasant cars that I have driven. Reasonably soft, non-dramatic & liner in drive. All the characteristics that I have admired. But there was always something missing. It was not something you could put your finger on. We were first shown this missing side in 2009 when the Laura was given the tuned and honed 1.8-litre turbo petrol engine with a healthy 160bhp. Everyone lost their minds, enthusiasts mostly but realistically it was never a success. And it was not entirely the cars fault. It came at a time when the whole world economy was not in its best form. We were a country back then who were looking forward mostly to the launch of a much anticipated people’s car, the Tata Nano. A performance sedan was far from anyone’s consideration and thinking of buying a car.
But gone are those boring and dreadful years. It’s 2017 and we have been once again treated to the missing side of Skoda. A true vRS, as the previous vRS came with the same engine and gearbox. The Octavia vRS comes at a time when the automobile scene is showing promise and more brands are headed to India. These are exciting times. And boy do you get a lot for paying extra. At approx. Rs 29 lakhs, you are not only paying for the vRS badge but also a lot of performance street-cred that comes with the badge.
A Sleeper with Factory Warranty
On first glances the rear (something you will be seeing a lot if you decide to race your hatchback with a loud exhaust against it), does not look very different from the regular Octavia with the exception of a spoiler and a twin exhaust configuration. Moving ahead, the roof comes blacked out with the integrated sunroof and the front fascia has not changed much with the exception of the massive grill and a lower bumper. Overall with the added fatter 17-inch tyres, the ground clearance is not bad at all. And this is a car with adjustable dampers to improve driving dynamics. My point being, there was never a moment when I scrapped the front or the middle bottomed out. I should also point out that this is a car with a long wheel base, even longer than a BMW M3.
Overall I like this car’s look. Some might say that the colour options are too bland but I think it’s just right. Can Skoda offer matte colour options? Maybe in the future. But it’s a sleeper and I would have one in the metallic option of Corrida Red or the Blue!
Moving to the interior. Black dominates everything. It was as if all the beige was taken out of the regular Octavia and given a Goth Fashion tutorial. The interior of the Skoda Octavia RS comes across as clear, calm and focused on the essentials. Its design continues the exterior lines, the impression of generous width is further emphasised by the horizontal orientation. vRS badging festoons a lot of interior surfaces. The surfaces and shapes are geometrically clear and taut. The round instruments are large and easy to read, and thanks to a new design, are even crisper. The flat bottom steering wheel is good. The infotainment system is easy to use and is the same unit as the normal Octavia albeit with a more carbon-fibre surrounding it. Carbo-fibre can also be found around the trim on the doors. And the centre console.
The interior is super cool. It’s not distracting and is designed tastefully. Could there be more reflective surfaces to help with the cabin in the dark? They could be. But at the very least it’s functional and easy to remember and gauge.
It’s lovely. Even with all the dampers and a stiffer suspension. The car is still quite soft. The seat do the job of holding the driver in a non-shaky position well. At normal speeds in the city or trundling down the highway it behaves no more vulgarly than a regular Octavia. When a car undergoes such drastic changes to its engine and the suspension, the platform is expected to behave a little differently but with the Octavia the tale is a bit different. It’s soft, forgiving and at a flick of a gear and switching on off a few buttons, there is an immediate change of character. No longer is it a city executive, chauffer driven sedan. It transforms itself into a track day going, ¼ mile challenging performance sedan. The power delivered by the 2.0-litre is around 227bhp and there is healthy toque figure off 380 Nm. Maximum torque of 380 Nm is achieved between 1,500 and 4,600 rpm. The car darts from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.7 seconds and reaches a top speed that is electronically limited to 250 km/h. The 2.0 TSI is only available with a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission which shifts adequately fast. Down shifts are a bit slow but nothing quite serious. The turbo kick is linear in the regular drive mode, but in Sports it seems to improve a tad. Post 4,800rpm mark, the engine is almost flat, nothing really comes out in terms of power or torque.
It’s a sleeper that wears a business man’s clothing in the traffic and is a star on the open road and track. It’s also well suited to a families need with its great rear seat room and huge hatch style boot. This car certainly ticks all boxes for me. This is a great option for those who are serious enthusiasts looking to further modify it. One get tweak this Octy to churn about 400-450bhp of power.
To see the fast upshifts do watch out Drag Race between the Octavia vRS and a couple of upgraded Stage 2 and 3 Skoda Lauras.
Can you have fun at Rs 30 lakhs only? Not really. You can pick a used Laura at about Rs 3-5 lakhs for the petrol engine. Then you can get it modified at one of the well-known outlets, and make it churn 200 to 300bhp of power. This makes it powerful and a good option to drive daily. Though you miss out on the DSG in this version.