You know you’ve got a very special car under your hands when you watch the young man in the boy racer car eyeing up your wheels – rubber necking even
And indeed, this car I am driving has enough letters after its name to make a university boffin blush. It’s a Škoda Octavia – but wait just a minute before you turn up your nose – it’s the vRS, an abbreviation the Czech company uses to inform us that this is a hot car (it actually stands for Victory Racing Sport) and then they add on iV hatch.
That means not only do you have the performance bit from the first three letters, but the iV hatch identifies this vehicle as one of Škoda’s electrified models – a hybrid to be precise – so for those who care about these things, it brings the tax down and at the same time provides excellent performance.
Like the combustion engines version, the badging on the exterior is black and mean with the Czech caron – that’s the little V-shaped accent – now in place over the S in Škoda.
I don’t think this matters to the performance, but it shows how much Škoda is gaining in confidence as its models just get better and better, with many of them using parts from the great Volkswagen group. No bad thing.
This performance model is on lowered suspension, 15mm lower than the standard Octavia, a comes with vRS exterior design cues like bumpers and lip spoiler and red brake calipers. There’s chrome exhaust tailpipes, black tinted rear windows and black window surrounds and it all sits on 19ins alloys. When you open the front doors, the Škoda name is projected onto the ground.
No wonder my young man was staring.
Inside the quality continues with an Alcantara dash with red stitching, black sports upholstery with contrasting red, black headlining with aluminium sports pedals.
The boot is enormous – this is an Octavia after all – opening electronically from a touch on the key fob. There is also a storage compartment for charging cables under the main floor.
Yes, this is a plug-in hybrid with a 1.4-litre petrol engine and together they will deliver a whopping 245PS. The electric motor has a range in the mid-twenties and after charging, you can store this power for use, say in the city, by means of the mode settings on the 10ins touchscreen. Easy to do and handy for the urban trek.
Interestingly, there is an e-noise generator in full-electric power that sends out a sound at speeds of up to 30mph, presumably so pedestrians can hear you coming.
There are other modes too, like Eco, Comfort and Normal, but since this is a vRS, I preferred to use it in Sport mode and it did not let me down. It is quick and responsive on the road and takes corners like an athlete – and then you are in the town and it is quiet and gentle as it purrs along the streets.
Clever use of the regenerative system coupled with keeping the electric charge topped up means you will get a massive mileage too – the WLTP figure is between 176.6 – 256.8mpg depending on your driving style, but in this Škoda, there is no need to be sensible all the time.
Maggie Barry is an Award winning journalist, she regularly travels in Europe and beyond to test drive cars. A former lecturer in journalism and motoring editor of Media Scotland she has written for and contributed to the Daily Record and Sunday Mail among others. She is on the panel judging the Scottish Car of the Year and Women’s World Car of the Year. She lives near Glasgow with her husband and several cars.
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