It would be easy to think that family life puts an end to owning a performance car, but that’s where options such as the Skoda Octavia vRS Estate come in. Offering plenty of space and comfort to passengers, plus one of the largest boots in its class, the Octavia vRS Estate is in many ways the perfect family car.
However, the two engine choices are a powerful diesel or petrol, meaning you don’t have to sacrifice speed and driving thrills to own a practical car. The Octavia vRS Estate’s main rivals are the Ford Focus ST Estate, the MINI Clubman JCW, the Volkswagen Golf GTD Estate and, if you want even more power, the Volkswagen Golf R Estate.
The vRS Estate was first launched in petrol form with a 217bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, but it has now been tweaked to produce 242bhp. The 2.0-litre diesel has 181bhp but even more pulling power than the petrol, and it’s more economical, too. The vRS Estate comes with performance wheels and tyres, tuned suspension for improved handling and a bodykit. While the Focus ST Estate is a little more engaging and fun, the vRS generates impressive grip in corners and is capable of keeping up with the vast majority of cars on the road.
The Octavia vRS Estate was given a facelift along with the standard Octavia range in 2017, so it inherited the new headlight design, LED lights and reshaped bumpers. In-car technology was also given a refresh with a new infotainment system boasting a glass touchscreen, plus better connectivity.
The petrol vRS is seen as the thoroughbred performance model of the two by purists. To ensure the vRS Estate stays safe and composed at high speeds or when cornering, it has firmer suspension than the regular model. Compared to the regular Octavia, it’s 15mm lower and comes with 18-inch wheels (or 19-inch alloys if you pay extra). Despite this, the vRS still isn’t a racing car, so it deals with bumps reasonably well, especially if you choose the Dynamic Chassis Control option, which gives you three stiffness settings.
The Octavia vRS is designed for driving long distances, so the front seats are supportive and comfortable, while there’s enough room for adults in the front and rear seats. The dashboard design looks unremarkable, but you grow to appreciate its sturdy build quality and logical layout, while a few vRS badges add a subtle dash of character.
As you’d expect from a range-topping car, the vRS is well equipped from the off, with LED headlights, climate control, cruise control, rear parking sensors and large alloy wheels. The 2017 model also features more driving aids than before, including systems to alert you to cars in your blind spot, help reverse a trailer and even perform an emergency stop if a pedestrian runs into the road.
Skoda has built a great reputation with customers and the standard Skoda Octavia finished 28th out of the 100 cars ranked in our 2019 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey of cars currently on sale in the UK. A five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP is another string to its bow. The vRS has always been an impressive car, and following its latest round of updates, it’s more compelling than ever.