Skoda Octavia vRS (2014-2019) review - ride and handling

Not the most fun, but well-rounded and good value too

Evo rating
  • Value, practicality and impressive pace in a handsome form
  • Not as sharp as some, 4x4 model diesel-only

The vRS is less agile hot hatchback than the Golf GTI and Leon Cupra, cars with which the Octavia vRS shares so much. Instead, mostly thanks to its longer wheelbase, it’s more of an entertaining sports saloon. That’s not to detract from the Octavia’s abilities, more an observation that it doesn’t instantly feel as energetic as the current selection of performance hatchbacks.

In the family car role for which many Octavia vRS will be destined, that’s probably a good thing, though you’re never far from experiencing the car’s firm ride quality – particularly on the larger 19in alloy wheel option. It’s well-damped, particularly at speed, and always feels composed and fluid.

There’s plenty of grip; the XDS+ electronic diff helps provide plenty of that traction at the front. There’s still a nice balance to the chassis as there’s lots of grip across the rear axle, too. It feels very competent at making progress no matter the size of the road or the weather conditions.

The 4x4’s abilities were best demonstrated on our first acquaintance on a frozen lake. Driven normally – on Michelin Pilot Alpin winter tyres – it was unflappable, turning in safely and resisting loss of traction extremely well.

Turn everything off, use more of the throttle pedal’s travel and more steering angle, and it isn’t long at all before you feel the Haldex system sending power rearwards. All very silly and great fun, but also a good demonstration of how the system redistributes power.

The vRS 245 gets an electronically controlled mechanical diff. When we tried the car on track it was possible to have both front tyres spinning and the car pushing into understeer. However, once you’ve become familiar with the car’s limits you can be more measured with your inputs, pushing the front tyres right to their limits. The 245 informs you of what’s going on between the tyres and the tarmac enough for you to judge just how much steering and throttle you can apply.

There isn’t the hyperactive, fidgety rear axle that some of the very best front-wheel drive performance cars are armed with, as such there’s not much in the way of corner entry or mid-corner adjustability and it remains admirably stable.

On the road its feels equally secure, yet there’s still enough feel and information transmitted through the steering and chassis for you to drive the 245 close to its limits. So, although you aren’t constantly tweaking your line with the throttle or correcting hints of oversteer, it’s still an involving and fun car to drive quickly.

Most Popular

Lotus Type 131 production confirmed for this year
Type 131 render
Lotus

Lotus Type 131 production confirmed for this year

All-new sports car to rival the iconic Porsche 911 and set the blueprint for Lotus's future models
25 Jan 2021
Naturally aspirated engines – best of the breed from 4-pots to V12s
Naturally aspirated engines - group
Supercars

Naturally aspirated engines – best of the breed from 4-pots to V12s

The naturally aspirated engine is capable of stirring emotions a turbocharged motor can only dream of. We celebrate the best of the breed.
22 Jan 2021
Ferrari 308 GTB/GTS: history, specs and buying guide
Ferrari 308 GTB/GTS buying guide
Ferrari

Ferrari 308 GTB/GTS: history, specs and buying guide

With a little help from a certain private eye, the 308 GTB/GTS would become Ferrari’s best-selling model. Here’s our essential guide
25 Jan 2021