2014 Skoda Octavia vRS Hatch 2.0 TDI 184PS Manual review – Fast-Hatch Offers Performance & Economy

Great economy, torque-a-plenty, punchy acceleration, sorted ride and handling, comfortable, well priced

Lacks personality, more standard equipment would be welcome

2014 Skoda Octavia vRS?

Skoda Octavia vRS 2.0 TDI 184PS 2014 review-6962

M, RS, AMG, STi. Seeing these inconspicuous badges on the front and rear of certain marques fire off little sparks of adrenaline through the veins of petrolheads, for they know that underneath that seemingly normal exterior is a car capable of making your heart thump in your chest at the mere prod of the accelerator.

Skoda’s own discreet badging for the smoking hot versions of their cars comes in the form of ‘vRS’, and for 2014 the third generation Octavia vRS comes with all-new engines offering high power and good fuel economy. We were sent the 2014 Skoda Octavia vRS Hatch 2.0 TDI 184PS manual to review and find out if a powerful diesel can offer as much fun as a petrol. Read on to find out if it does…

Exterior. Butt-ugly or beauty?

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Ooof. This 2014 Octavia vRS Hatch really is a mean-looking thing. It hides the fact its a sporty car about as convincingly as a tutu-wearing rhinoceros trying to pass as a ballet dancer. Yes, it’s immediately obvious that this particular Skoda Octavia is clearly not the standard version as preferred by taxi drivers and old men.

Even some of the colour choices for the Octavia vRS are as vivid and in-your-face as you like, with options like Sprint Yellow and Rallye Green making sure you’re seen a mile off, should that be your sort of thing. Our tester came in a less lurid colour of Race Blue, which although less glaring than the above-mentioned still makes a bold statement about the car.

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The Octavia vRS differs from the standard model by being given a lower stance and sporting twin stainless exhaust pipes, diffusers front and rear, a boot spoiler, and a range of bigger alloy wheels. The hard-as-nails look is all around the car, and from the front your eye is draw to the big black upper and lower grilles while jagged design slashes and cuts in the bumper catch and bounce the light. Above that narrow, glaring headlights stab your vision with their eye-catching super-clear light sabre-like LED daytime running lights.

Skoda Octavia vRS 2.0 TDI 184PS 2014 review exterior multi

At the rear there are stylish twin stainless steel exhaust tips built into the boxy air diffuser to give you a clue that this isn’t just any old Octavia, while diagonal cuts into either side of the bonnet again catch the light and add an extra edginess to the design, and it’s all finished off with a low boot spoiler. Something cool I did notice is that there are no TDI or TSI badges to distinguish whether this is the petrol or diesel version. Keep ’em guessing.

This 2014 Skoda Octavia vRS pull absolutely no punches with its brutal look. I’m certain I saw a few villagers run inside and slam close their window-shutters as I drove past their quaint countryside homes, the Octavia vRS’ tough looks putting fear in the eyes of the beholders. Okay, I exaggerate a little but it doesn’t hide the fact that this is a very tough-looking brute, and all the better for it.

Interior. Neat or nothing special?

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Inside the Octavia vRS Hatch it’s all very serious – focussed, even – with an emphasis on a sports. In amongst a sea of grey and black trim, contrasting bright red stitching on the steering wheel, gear gaiter, seats and a few other places catches the eye. Up front, the deep half-leather bucket seats also have a thick band of red underlining ‘vRS’ lettering stamped into the headrests, while the rears get the same treatment.

I’ve got to say, not only does the front seating in the vRS look fantastic, but it is also absolutely comfortable and highly supportive, and whether you’re doing a bit of motorway trudging or hammering down your favourite bit of winding tarmac, the seats suit every occasion very well. The rear seats are also decent, with the sides giving good support thanks to their mini bolsters and (unusually) even the middle seat is flat enough to be comfortable on over longer journeys.

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Skoda Octavia vRS 2.0 TDi 2014 front seats side view HDR

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The driver’s binnacle is simply laid-out, with sharp dials that are analogue and ever-so-slightly old-school in their design. Between the two large dials sits an information screen that displays the usual: fuel eco stats, satellite navigation directions, plus a few menus for other settings. It’s fairly simplistic, and I like it for that.

The steering wheel felt surprisingly big for a sporty car, but I had just driven the Peugeot 308 with its minuscule ‘wheel so that likely had a bearing on this viewpoint. However, it’s comfortable, grippy and the controls on it were easy to use. What more can you ask for. Over to the centre console, and again it is straightforward in design. I like the fact the Octavia’s is uncomplicated and the switchgear is easy to fathom and remember. I can’t stand cars that throw a multitude of switchgear at the driver, and still expect them not to lose concentration trying to find the fan speed or rear-heated window or whatever.

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Standard on the Octavia vRS Hatch is a touchscreen system, and it’s a good one. The menus are highly readable and user-friendly, and it’s got slick, modern graphics too. You can even flick across through options in a smartphone/tablet style, and instead of being slow or stuttering when doing so, the graphics keep up well and flow smoothly. Cleverly, the screen remains ‘full’ and uncluttered until you put your hand near to it, upon which a proximity sensor detects it and brings up the rest of the menus. Our test car had the optional Amundsen touchscreen sat nav system (£550. June ’14), and while it’s a nice thing to use and works well, it’s a little expensive considering you can buy a top-flight sat nav for less than half that.

Skoda Octavia vRS 2.0 TDI 184PS 2014 review touch screen multi

Standard interior equipment on the Octavia vRS also includes dual-zone  air conditioning with humidity sensor, seven airbags, driver alert system (fatigue alert), driving mode selection, bluetooth, DAB radio and more. I expected more stuff as standard, such as heated front seats, keyless entry, a starter button etc. However, as we’ll talk about later, the Octavia vRS Hatch is very well-priced car and surprisingly cheap all things considered, and given that I wouldn’t begrudge paying a bit on top for a few options.

Opening the boot lid, I couldn’t quite believe just how large the storage space was beneath. This is an impressively big boot area, with 590 litres rear seats in place, and 1,580 litres with the backrests folded. To put it in context, the Octavia Estate has just 20 litres more space with the seats up, and 160 litres more with them down.

Overall, the Skoda Octavia vRS Hatch is decently-spec’d car, with comfortable and supportive seating up front, a well-designed cabin with a fairly simplistic yet modern look, and a cavernous boot that’ll swallow a huge amount of equipment. There was nothing I could find to complain about, and when you factor in the price of the car you’re getting a bit of a bargain.

Skoda Octavia vRS 2.0 TDI 184PS 2014 boot space 1

Skoda Octavia vRS 2.0 TDI 184PS 2014 boot space 2

Engine & gearbox

Skoda offer the Octavia vRS with a choice of either a two-litre petrol or diesel engine with 6-speed manual or DSG automatic transmissions. Both are in-line 4-cylinder units and turbo-charged. The 2.0 TSI petrol has 217 bhp and 258 lb ft (350 Nm) of torque, and the manual will do the 0 – 62 mph run in a respectable 6.8 seconds (7.1 for the DSG) and will hit 150 mph at the top end.

Our test car was the vRS with the diesel 2.0 TDI , which kicks out a 181 bhp at 3,500 rpm and 280 lb ft (380 Nm) of torque is produced at just 1,750 up to 3,500 rpm. It’ll get to 62 miles-per-hour from zero in 8.1 seconds and go on to 142 mph maximum. While it’s slower than the petrol, there a couple of things the diesel offers that make it a very tempting offer: firstly, thanks to it only producing 119 g/km of CO2, the UK tax per year for the manual diesel is just £30.oo per year currently! That’s an amazingly low figure for a car with whopping torque and a decent turn of speed.

Be careful though, as the TDI with the DSG ‘box jumps tax up to 129 g/km, which is another stage and you’ll be £130 per year lighter. Meanwhile, the vRS TSi will cost you £145 p/y. Secondly, the diesel is very fuel-frugal with UK mpg stats quoted as: urban: 49.6, extra urban: 72.4, combined: 61.4. That’s almost 20 miles-per-gallon more than the TSI extra urban, and 16 mpg on a combined run. Realistically? We achieved 54.4 mpg over 122 miles of motorway and a couple of sections of urban routes. That’s great-going considering we didn’t exactly hold back on pushing that accelerator down hard.

Ready to roll? Let’s drive!

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Back in t’ day (around 1999/2000), I remember the VAG (Volkswagen Group) diesel cars coming in varying degrees of horsepower, and if you had the 150 bhp version, you had something quite quick for a 1.9/2.0 litre diesel of the time. Back then, that was a respectable amount and they still achieved very good fuel economy too.

However, this new VAG Skoda Octavia vRS takes it to a new level, pumping out a very decent 181 bhp from its 2.0 litre engine while still giving you big miles to a tank of fuel. On a diesel though, it’s all about the torque and as mentioned the vRS TDI kicks out a chunky 280 lb ft (380 Nm) of it.

However, these are just figures on a screen and mean absolutely zero until I explain what it’s like out on the tarmac. Setting off, there’s a nice, light clutch pedal – good for those dreaded stop-start urban drives in rush-hour traffic. You’ll find changes from the 6-speed manual gearbox are satisfyingly precise and positive, and the ratios are nicely spread for both town and motorway driving.

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The vRS has a ‘Driving Mode Selection’, which can be used via the touchscreen. The different modes are Normal, Sport, Eco, and Individual. What these modes do is adapt the engine torque, accelerator sensitivity, power steering, headlight control (for if Adaptive Front Lighting is fitted), DSG transmission (if you have it), and air conditioning to suit the profile selected. Clever, and I often switched between them depending on the journey to either save fuel or get some speed up.

The 0 – 62 mph time of 8.1 seconds is decent enough, but with diesel cars it’s the rolling acceleration that really counts, and this 2014 Octavia vRS TDI has that by the bucket load. The pull from the torque on this car is absolutely superb, and highly addictive too. With the maximum kicking in at just 1,750 rpm, the response in any gear is brilliant, and there’s very little lag to speak of. Plant that accelerator and you’ll ride a powerful wave of torque that’ll see the speedometer climbing impressively quickly, whether you’re doing low or high speeds at the time.

There’s very much a feeling of relentlessness with the Octavia vRS TDI, and it pushes on incredibly well up to and beyond triple figures. It’s far better, in fact, than anything I expected. Count me as impressed with the turn of speed. The handling didn’t disappoint either. For starters, any of the dreaded torque steer that plagues some powerful front wheel drive cars has been dealt with by Skoda fitting an electronic differential lock (XDS), which is integrated into the stability control (ESC).

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The Octavia provides a good quality of low-speed ride when tackling Britain’s blighted roads, while still maintaining its posture when you’re really on it around some of the twisty stuff. It’s a commendable suspension set-up, and the XDS ensures you can have fun in confidence. The vRS also has good stopping power, and while the brakes are sharp they’re progressive and give good feedback, rather than being over-eager and throwing you through the front windscreen.

With regards to safety tech, the Octavia vRS has a huge list to keep you pointing in the right direction, and reads like some highly educated scientist’s credentials: ESC with ABS, EBD, MSR, ASR, EDS, HBA, DSR and Pre-fill brakes. One that especially impressed me was the Automatic Post Collision Braking System, which brakes the Octavia automatically after an impact to prevent it from then going into oncoming traffic.

At higher cruising speeds, the vRS is quiet enough to enjoy the journey as wind, road and engine noise are dulled decently well, and it actually makes for a rather good long-distance driver.

Overall, the Octavia vRS TDI left me very much impressed with the drive, handling and comfort level. What strikes me is that this is a superb multi-purpose car. It’s economical and big enough to be a sorted family car, sporty and quick enough to make the petrol (or diesel) heads happy, and because of the low emissions, fuel-frugality and comfy-cruiser factor it’d also be a good company car too. Heck, I’ve even seen one being used as a taxi! A brilliant car, and it’s going to take a fair bit for me to be as impressed with the petrol vRS TSI version.

Price

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(prices correct June ’14) Prepare to go and test a Skoda Octavia vRS! You’ll possibly want to after reading the prices. The Octavia vRS Hatch TSI and TDI costs between just £23,750 and £25,400. That’s a crazily low amount for the car you’re getting, and an absolutely excellent deal in my humble opinion.

Our manual vRS TDI Hatch is priced at a smidgen over £24,000 minus any of the options, with the DSG version around £1,400 more. The petrol TSI costs a few hundred less than the diesel, but you’ll make that back in fuel costs over a year with the diesel anyway. For your information, the Estate vRS is £24,500 – £26,200.

Either way, Skoda are selling their Octavia vRS at an admirably low price and it’s certainly one too look out for as a brilliant all-rounder.

2014 Skoda Octavia vRS 2.0 TDI 184PS manual verdict & score

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As you’ve likely gathered, I love this car. I can’t find much to complain about, and if I’m honest it’s being picky to do so. Here goes anyway: the vRS doesn’t exactly exude personality or soul, and there’s a couple of things on the interior that I think should be standard (heated seats, electric folding mirrors), but they’re cheap enough options and you still get a lot for your money as standard.

So, the positive are great economy, low CO2 emissions (equals low tax), torque-a-plenty, punchy acceleration at just about any speed (within reason, obviously), a sorted ride and handling, aggressive styling and an interior that ‘s comfortable and decently spec’d with a cavernous boot space. Oh, and that very reasonable price tag. Genuinely, the Octavia vRS TDI is an excellent car and a brilliant all-rounder.

Do you own a 2014> Skoda Octavia vRS? What are your views on it, and what are the best and worst points? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below!

Exterior  8
Interior  7.5
Engine (TDI)  8.5
Gearbox  8
Price  8.5
Handling & ride  8
Drive  8
Overall Score  8.0 / 10

Specs

Model (as tested)  2014 Skoda Octavia vRS 2.0 TDI 184PS
Spec includes  18″ alloy wheels, leather seats with heating in fronts, cruise control with limiter, dual-zone climate control, touch screen with Bluetooth, DAB radio, USB & Aux, driving mode selection, driver alert system, Bi-Xenon with LED running lights,   ESC with ABS, EBV, MSR, ASR, EDS, HBA, DSR, hill hold See website for more info
Options you should spec  Race Blue metallic paint: £525.00
The Competition  Kia PRO_CEE’D GT, Volkswagen Passat 2.0 TDI 177PS, Mazda6 2.2l 175PS,
Price  (July 2014) TDI: £23,580
Engine  Turbo-diesel, 2.0 litre, 4-cylinders in-line, DOHC
Power, Torque  181 bhp @ 3,500 rpm | Torque: 280 lb ft (380 Nm) @ 1,750 – 3,500 rpm
Drive, Gears (as tested)  Front wheel drive | 6-speed manual
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, Euro NCAP  Max speed (limited): 142 mph | 0 – 62 mph: 8.1 seconds | Euro NCAP rating: 5-stars
Fuel economy (UK mpg), CO2  Urban: 49.6, Extra urban: 72.4, Combined: 61.4 | CO2: 119 g/km CO2
Weight (kerb)  1,395 (3,075 lbs)
Websites  Skoda UK, Skoda Germany, Skoda global

Words: Chris Davies | Photography: Chris Davies, Matthew Davies, Jake Thomas

2 responses to “2014 Skoda Octavia vRS Hatch 2.0 TDI 184PS Manual review – Fast-Hatch Offers Performance & Economy”

  1. Barry orourke

    Hi….absolutely wonderful report on the Octavia Vrs Tdi…having bought a 64 plate in September was intrigued to read your comments which I entirely agree with…wow what a superb wolf in sheep’s clothing this fantastic car is….every day is a joy to drive…and with the fantastic economy it truly encourages you to drive frugally….I can attain a good 63 mpg on the way to work every morning a journey of 47 miles….but every now and then my feather foot concedes to a very rapid sprint over the black stuff….and so comfy ,well made Teutonic feel to the vehicle…….Mercedes?…BMW?…..VW?…..no thanks …..if any one happens to read this,you will not regret your choice in Skoda VRS…..specially the TDI….happy motoring folks..

  2. mdavies

    Thanks Barry.

    Glad you liked the review. It’s always good to get feedback. We’d love it if you could share this review with others. Cheers.

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