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2016 Skoda Octavia vRS 4×4 Review

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Driven: Skoda Octavia vRS 4×4 Review

I had a bit of time to test out the Skoda Octavia vRS in its 4WD form, and here are my thoughts on it.

What is the Skoda Octavia vRS 4×4 all About?

The Octavia vRS 4×4 is really just the 4WD variant of the normal, typical and commonplace Octavia vRS diesel which wasn’t very interesting, but still remained to be a solid family car choice for anyone looking at this segment.

We’ve never actually driven the normal Octavia vRS before. In fact, the last Octavia we’ve driven is the hottest one yet, the Octavia vRS 230, so I still wasn’t sure what to expect from this. From all the positive reviews that even the normal Octavia vRS received though, I had pretty high hopes for the 4×4 variant.

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The first thing you’ll definitely notice with our Octavia vRS 4×4 though is the colour, Rallye Green. It’s not common that we see such a vibrant and vivid colour on a car nowadays, so this is a nice break from all the grey, white and black we have in the UK.

Otherwise, there’s not much in it that separates this Octavia vRS from the Octavia, although the Octavia vRS has always been the understated one among the hot hatches. Bar the small rear spoiler, red calipers, big 18 inch ‘Gemini’ alloys, and front honeycomb grille (also obviously the vRS badges), nothing tells you that this is a saloon with ambition.

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Powering the Octavia vRS 4×4 is a similar engine found in the FWD diesel variant: a 2.0 litre inline-4 turbodiesel that’s a surprisingly punchy choice. It puts out 181 bhp and spades of torque – thanks to it being diesel – at 380 Nm. In fact, Skoda had to beef up the gearbox to withstand that much torque.

The engine is mated to a DSG 6-speed automatic gearbox that, as the name implies, drives all four wheels. This in turn allows the Octavia vRS 4×4 to complete the 0-62 mph run in 7.8 seconds, a little bit faster than the FWD variant. If you’re brave, it will top out at 140 mph as well.

Because it’s a diesel, economy figures are excellent. It achieves 57.6 mpg combined and puts out just 129 g/km of CO2. So far, it seems like a pretty well sought out engine. The car weighs nearly 1.5 tonnes, so not a light car either.

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How Does it Drive?

Step in the car, press the stop/start button and you’re golden.

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The diesel engine really was punchy. It launches the car forward at almost any speed, but the majority of it comes in at around 2,500 rpm, from then on it’s just torque city. The torque allows the Octavia vRS 4×4 to overtake vehicles easily.

Even at low speed, such as exiting the corner, the engine gives the Octavia vRS 4×4 a push and will provide enough torque for you to exit even the slowest corner quickly. Additionally, the DSG gearbox is a joy as well, it provides quick, clean shifts; a worthwhile trade off for the amount of weight it has.

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All vRS models also get the rather useful XDS+ which helps the car to maintain neutrality throughout the corners. While the FWD variant was already quite stable, having two more wheels spinning provides even more grip throughout.

The weather wasn’t exactly sunny when I tested out the Octavia vRS 4×4, so the grip difference became even more apparent. The gain in traction is very noticeable, paired with firmer suspension, the car feels incredibly planted and stable throughout the corners.

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While it doesn’t have the smoothest power curve in the world – as the turbo still provides a good kick – it’s still a very refined engine, especially for a diesel. There are also driving modes available to choose from, with Sport mode sharpening up and quickening the car’s response while adding weight to the steering, perfect for a spirited drive.

Despite adding some additional weight due to the 4WD system, the car still stops well. The Octavia vRS 4×4 provides plenty of driver confidence, even though the exterior may say otherwise. You’d be surprised at just how balanced the car really is.

What is it Like Inside?

The interior of the Octavia vRS 4×4 is a very nice place to be in. There is plenty of leather in the car to satisfy all your premium needs. Additionally, you can opt for wood trimmings on the centre console, just like any other German luxury car.

Our spec had black leather stitched with contrasting silver threads finished off with an ingrained ‘vRS’ logo in the headrest.

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The buttons are kept to a minimum on the centre console. There aren’t many buttons to confuse the driver, as most of the car’s operations are handled by the large centre Amundsen infotainment system.

In terms of tech, the Octavia vRS 4×4 does not lose out either. With plenty of technology you will find on its competitors, cruise control, lane assist, light assistant, rain sensor, connectivity, etc.

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The steering is a 3-spoke design that isn’t as bulky and thick as other steering designs we’ve come across. It still feels nice to grip onto however. The instrument cluster is a very simple ordeal as well, with minimum clutter so the driver can focus on driving.

There’s only a single digital screen in between of the tachometer and speedometer to provide the driver with additional information.

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It’s a simple interior with plenty of space inside, including an amazing boot capacity. With the rear seats up, you can expect a storage capacity of 590 litres, and if you need more, you can put the rear seats down to get a staggering 1,580 litres of luggage capacity.

Keep in mind, there’s always the estate variant if the hatchback just isn’t quite enough for you.

The Experience

Driving the Octavia vRS 4×4, I really can’t find a fault with it. The car has good power, and the additional grip is a useful perk to have, especially with the erratic weather in Britain. The Octavia vRS 4×4 has a really well sought out chassis as well, as the car has exceptional balance on the road.

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It’s no wonder that the Octavia vRS is such a well-received variant of the normal Octavia. It’s also a common car used for undercover duty just because of how unassuming it is.

Verdict

To sum the Octavia vRS 4×4 up, it’s jack of all trades, master of none. It’s a solid car at a solid price. Skoda has really struck a fine balance between power and economy on this one.

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And, for people wondering if the additional cash is worth it for the 4WD, it really depends on where you live. However, from my experience, having those extra two wheels driving just assures me that much more. I have more of a safety margin exiting corners.

It’s simple, If you live in somewhere where dealing with British winter is an issue, or if you like the extra reassurance for traction, then the 4×4 option is more than worth it.

Check out the latest Skoda Octavia vRS 245 hatch review.

Video Highlights

Specification

Skoda Octavia vRS 4×4

  • Price: £27,315
  • Engine: 2.0-litre inline-4 turbodiesel
  • Power: 181 bhp
  • Torque: 380 Nm
  • Transmission: DSG 6-speed automatic
  • 0-62mph: 7.8 seconds
  • Top speed: 140 mph
  • Weight: 1,475 kg
  • Economy combined: 57.6 mpg

Author: Paul Hadley

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