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Published on February 13th, 2011 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez

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Skoda Octavia VRS…..GTI With A Business Suit

Not many Malaysians know the brand Skoda. Test driving earlier models before, I have had people ask me if the car was from Sweden (Volvo and Saab only), Finland (no car industry here) and even Saudi Arabia (they don’t make cars….just pump crude oil from their desert).

This is the ‘hottest’ Skoda you can buy in Malaysia. It is, principally, a VW Golf GTI underneath with a Skoda shell on top. The core mechanicals and chassis are shared but the wheelbase has been lengthened a bit. So…this Octavia VRS comes with the 2.0-litre turbocharged four cylinder engine that was in the previous generation Golf GTI (Mk5) and uses its infamous Dual Clutch Gearbox (DSG). 
VRS stands for ‘Victory Rally Sport’, a nod to their rallying heritage. The previous Octavia was a rather sedate looking sedan but this latest version is sexier with a new grille adorned with the VRS logo, new larger headlamps come equipped with xenon lights and dynamic angle control and the integrated headlight washers are now larger. LED daytime running lights are now standard fitment, while cornering fog lamps add a touch of class. At the rear little has changed with just a top deck spoiler added. Large 18inch alloy wheels shod with slim wide tyres give a menacing stance to the VRS.

Step inside and the interior is a piece that sets this vehicle apart from the rest. Driver gets seats that are superb and passengers get very comfortable seats offering great comfort. Rear passengers were also treated with a god legroom and space for 3 adults or one adults and 2 kids as twin ISOFIX points are provided.

Skoda have added a new Bolero radio with touch screen technology and SD reader just like in the new VW’s. Boot capacity is rated at 560-liters which is class leading and growing to 1420 liters with the rear seats down.

Safety items include six airbags, stability control, LED daytime running lights, anti-whiplash head rests on front seats, tyre pressure monitoring and ABS brakes. The Octavia model gets a four-star Euro NCAP crash rating compared with a five-star rating for the Golf. This is because the Octavia is not available outside of Europe with curtain airbags.

The Skoda models have the look and feel of a Volkswagen; but the VW models do feel slightly better finished overall. This is in line with the product positioning of the cars and works the same way with the Golf when compared with an Audi A3 (VW also owns Audi).

One thing that we found with this Octavia was that the power delivered was just a little short of what the Golf GTI delivers….maybe because of its added weight. If you toddle along without much accelerator application it simply feels like a 2.0-litre engine pulling a 1500KG vehicle. If you plant the right foot you are greeted with bags of torque. Sure, there’s a fair amount of torque steer to contend with, but once that’s under control it’s a case of holding on for dear life. The revs just keep travelling to red-line in each gear and the engine simply feels like it will never stop pulling; it’s truly an amazing sensation.

This Octavia VRS feels very nice to drive. The steering wheel feels great to manhandle in dire situations and seems to respond respectfully and accurately when you try and push the car around. There is very little body roll when you throw the Octavia VRS through a rather hard bend. ESP retards any loss of traction and negligible sideways motion that you may enter into with a very sharp response. The firmer VRS suspension setup helps but this leads to a more detrimental ride quality on our badly paved roads.

Jump on the brakes from 100km/h and hold onto anything you can because these things are monsters and really pull up the Octavia VRS with little effort. In-fact the brakes were exhibiting no sign of fade as we padded them heavily on a test run. Moving the VRS’s metal shell from 0 to 100km/h takes just 7.3-seconds, not bad for a sedan of this size. Slot it into ‘S’ mode, dial-up a few revs with the brake on, drop your foot off the brake pedal and mash the accelerator to the floor. At first you take off with minimal force, soon after hitting 2000RPM the tyres begin to lose grip and you start getting moulded into the driver’s seat, the next gear is then grabbed with a massive sense of urgency, soon after that you hit 100km/h and have a grin from ear-to-ear.

If after reading all the above…….will you buy one…….or a Golf GTI? Hard to really say as the price difference of RM20K more still gives the VW GTI badge a nudge ahead…….but if the Skoda badge was given the right amount of branding….who knows.
Skoda Octavia VRS Specification
Engine: DOHC 16-Valve Turbo
Capacity: 1984cc
Max power: 197hp @ 5100-6000rpm
Max torque: 280Nm @ 1500-4500rpm
Top Speed: 200km/h as tested
0-100km/h: 7.3 seconds
Transmission: 6-speed DSG
Price: RM188,888.00


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