The first Skoda Octavia vRS debuted in 2001 and immediately made an impact for its bang per buck. With a 178bhp 1.8-litre turbocharged engine but a price tag of only £15,100 (a Golf GTI was £16,425, and less fun to drive), its appeal was clear.
In 2006 we got the second-generation. It wasn’t quite as effervescent as that first car but it was more grown-up. Still brisk too, with 197bhp and a claimed top speed of 149mph. And still relatively affordable, at £17,500, when a Golf GTI had climbed to £19,995.
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Offered in hatch and estate bodies, petrol and diesel engines, and manual and DSG transmissions, there’s a vRS for almost everyone. But the current vRS is even better to drive and arguably sharper to look at. So do you trade up, or improve what you have?
Skoda Octavia vRS upgrade ideas
The Octavia vRS’s talent lies in mixing strong performance with the utmost ease of use and a level of practicality that shames most other cars – especially in estate trim. The second-gen cars are also dropping in value (the earliest 2006 examples now start from as little as £2500) and out of warranty, making them ideal platforms for modification.
With turbocharged petrol and diesel engines, ECU tuning is an obvious starting point given the easily-boosted turbocharged engines. Superchips’ Bluefin (£399, mybluefin.co.uk) adds as much as 41bhp and 40lb ft to the standard 197bhp and 206lb ft in the petrol model, and 28bhp with 44lb ft for the 168bhp, 258lb ft TDI.
Next is handling, as the vRS has a fair amount of mass to control in the corners. Peer at the forums and many owners recommend starting with anti-roll bars to help check body movements. H&R supplies front and rear units (£334 from awesomegti.com) that reduce roll and improve cornering without significantly affecting ride quality.
New wheels are worth a look too: the standard 18-inch pieces are around 13kg each, which becomes a significant amount of rotating mass. Neuspeed RSe07 wheels – another item recommended by many owners – weigh 8.8kg each in 18 x 8in. You can find them at awesomegti.com for £250 apiece.
Skoda Octavia vRS key facts and figures
|Engine||In-line 4cyl, 1998cc, turbocharged|
|Max power||197bhp @5100rpm|
|Max torque||207lb ft @ 1800-5000rpm|
|Transmission||Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive|
|Top speed||149mph (claimed)|
|Price range used||£2500-£13,000|
Variable service interval: Up to 18,600 miles or every two years
Recommended service interval: 9300 miles or annually
DSG oil change interval: 37,000 miles at the latest
What we said at the time
‘The fact is the vRS is a fine drive, its engine smooth and crisp and revvy and full of lovely turbo torque without the usual downside of turbo lag and a soft throttle response. Thank the 2-litre engine’s direct injection for making a high compression ratio possible. It sounds crisp, too, but the note is never intrusive. The handling is amusingly throttle-steerable but ultimately foolproof, and the steering, well-weighted and accurate with convincing feel for an electrically-assisted system.’ John Simister, evo 085 Read the full review here