(Full disclosure: There is nothing to disclose. This is my car, and some of you wanted a review.)
- 2008 Skoda Octavia vRS Estate Diesel
- Volkswagen 2.0 TDi common rail producing 170hp, 258lb-ft
- 6 speed manual
- 0-60 in 8.2 seconds
- Front wheel drive
- Curb weight 1,445kg (3,185lbs)
- 71,000 miles
- OTR cost: £7,400
So let’s get to it then.
It’s not a great looking car, but it’s certainly not a horror show. The overall styling is budget Wolfsburg bland, but from the right angles it can look positively handsome with it’s deep front bumper and itty bitty chin spoiler.
The rear is complimented by twin exhaust pipes, deleted rubber strips and the vRS logo, but is otherwise untouched from the standard Octavia. The car is factory lowered and sitting on 18 inch 10 spoke wheels giving it a hint of sleekness.
Other estate cars manage to pull off a great side profile with ease, and while the Octavia vRS is absolutely fine, it’s just that; absolutely fine. Nothing special. A car brochure would call it ‘discrete styling’.
The hints of sleekness on the outside do not translate to the inside. Aside from two tone leather/alcantara seats and some embroidered vRS badges, inside it’s all rather mundane, but the fit and finish is excellent.
All of the buttons and dials have a clicky chunkiness to them, and the soft-touch dash materials and plastics feel robust. I’m 6’5” and quite used to sitting in a car with my hair brushing the headliner, but the ‘sports’ seats sit nice and low leaving me a good 4 inches of headroom. They’re comfortable and supportive, and the half leather half alcantara avoids sweaty crack syndrome on long journeys. The rear seats have a good amount of legroom even with the drivers seat pushed right back, with the same leather/alcanatara finish as the front.
There are storage compartments everywhere. 2 front door pockets, 2 rear pockets, glovebox, driver side cubby hole, 3 compartments in the centre console, passenger side under seat drawer, and a cubby hole on the outer of the front seat bases. If you put something away nice and safe before leaving the car, you have make sure to allow yourself an extra 5 minutes before setting off again just to find the damn thing. Bonus feature: The glovebox and armrest cubby hole are air-conditioned. Leave some cans in there on a hot summer day and they stay frosty!
The cubbyholes shenanigans are just the start.
The Octavia estate has a huge 580 litres of boot space, increasing to 1,665 litres with the seats folded down.
Plenty of room for my dogs, my luggage, their luggage, the girlfriends luggage, and my girlfriends extra luggage. There are two more enclosed cubbyholes on either side of the boot space, 6 ISOFIX floor mounts, a storage tray under the sliding boot cover, and a 12V connection perfect for keeping the camping chiller chilled. With my roofbox on, the capacity is further increased to 2,085 litres meaning the car is a brilliant long distance hauler. One mark deducted for the boot pull that looks like a dog toy and has previously been used as such.
This is not fast car, far from it, but it feels quick. 170hp is delivered well throughout the gears, but 3rd and 4th are an absolute riot. Fourth is a fantastic passing gear, and the car has a good wide torque band so with plenty of pedal it really responds well. Third is your ‘bugger off’ gear, whereby I mean you go first, second, and then bugger off into the distance.
Uphill slogs are a joy moving through the gears, and I have been know to leave it in third and let the parpy exhaust note give me a sing-song through the country lanes. In the interest of the review I must point out that first gear feels too short, short enough that I pre-emptively move my head forward during acceleration only for me to almost headbutt my steering wheel when it meets the end of the torque band.
During day to day use the front end feels grippy and sharp, with good feel and a progressively heavy steering rack, but on a spirited drive the limit of grip comes up quite quickly and leads to a controllable-but-not-all-to-confidence-inspiring understeer lesson. I own an Alfa GT which I have previously lauded as being the best handling FWD car I’ve driven on the road, and the Skoda doesn’t even come close. Feathering the throttle allows a bit of leniency through a tight turn, but accelerating hard out of a corner in anything lower than fourth can lead to the front tyres bouncing and bobbling trying to find the grip. That may have something to do with the Evergreen branded tyres that came with the car (?).
This is a car for straight lines and moderate bends. It’s nowhere near bad, but for a ‘sports’ spec car it should be so much better. The brakes are fantastic though, genuinely good. Excellent in fact. Pretty damn awesome.
Ride quality 8/10
Surprisingly good considering the lower and harder suspension and larger wheels over the standard Octavia platform. So far the car has handled potholed roads, bumpy tracks and my storage yard with fair ease. On the motorway there’s no wallow or sway on wavy sections of road, and odd stones and bits of detritus barely register through the seats.
So with 170 horses and a big ol’ booty to pull around you’d think that the vRS isn’t so good in the DD economy stakes, but now we come to the real reason I bought this car. On a 60 miles round trip encompassing a winding coast road, 70MPH motorway, 50MPH dual carriageway and a few small villages, the Skoda averaged 46.2 MPG. I am fully aware that cars of this size are able to exceed 60MPG, the Passat BlueMotion for example, but none could do so while putting a smile on your face. The Skoda is capable of 55MPG according to manufacturer spec, but I’ve yet to take it on a long motorway journey to find out if what they claim is true.
It’s not bad for a 2008 plate. Rear parking sensors, MAXIdot instrument display, 8 speaker multi-function ‘infotainment’ with AUX in and 6CD changer, heated windscreen and mirrors, air-conditioned compartments, separate climate control for rear passengers. Pretty standard nowadays, but all option list in ‘08. The downsides are no multi-function steering wheel and no bluetooth. Can’t be too picky, I guess.
For me, this is the perfect addition to my vehicular line-up. I needed a comfortable mid-to-long distance hauler that was good on fuel and road tax, with plenty of space for people and things, and that could still charm me with it’s personality and ability. The MKII Octavia vRS estate is not particularly common in either diesel or petrol form, and finding this car was a 6 month process of sifting through various manufacturers and models, overpriced and overused examples, and various car forums to accrue as much knowledge as possible (Oppo included, you fine bunch of bastards!).
In conclusion: I’m extremely happy with my choice. A diesel Skoda Octavia vRS estate should be everyone’s daily driver. I will soon be upping the power to 204HP and 360 lb-ft, provided the fuel economy doesn’t take too much of a hit. A quick economical estate car, what more could you possibly want?