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The Sensible Performance choice: the new 2024 Skoda Octavia vRS facelift

Updated: Jul 6

2024 Skoda Octavia VRS

Uncover the 2024 Skoda Octavia vRS facelift: A blend of practicality and high performance. Discover its new features and subtle styling. Now petrol-only, with a 21 bhp hike in power, as Ken Pearson reports.

The best-selling Skoda model has been updated for 2024. Naturally, it’s the hot vRS model that we’re interested in which has now gone petrol only. This may come as a surprise as the first generation Octavia vRS was praised for taking the 170 bhp Volkswagen group 2.0 litre TDI engine and placing it in a car that was as rewarding to drive as it was practical in both hatchback and estate guises. It’s no wonder that Police forces across the country picked them for being fast enough to pursue wrong-uns, spacious enough to carry all sorts of law-enforcing gear and subtle enough to fly under the radar when unmarked.

However, times have changed and owing to a small-scale revelation about the honesty of homologated diesel emissions in 2016, public opinion has rapidly turned away from diesel-powered cars, especially in the mass market segments. So for 2024, the Octavia vRS calls upon the 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine found in models like the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Cupra Leon to provide its performance. 

In this setting, it delivers 265 horsepower and 370 Newton metres (272 lb-ft) to the front wheels through a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission - up by 21 bhp over the previous model. All performance Octavia's gain 15mm-lowered suspension with an electronically controlled limited slip differential as standard which should make this one of the most interesting sensible family cars to put through the twisty road test. 

2024 Skoda Octavia VRS

2024 Skoda Octavia VRS

The new petrol-powered vRS benefits from a sports exhaust with black tips as standard, along with engine software tweaks that increase the revs on start up, and “supports the car’s powerful sound” which to me sounds like feeding engine sounds into the cabin through the speakers, but strangely it’s not something that I’m completely against if it’s been done right. 

Speaking of the cabin, two new themes are available with the standard vRS Fabric Design Selection featuring two-piece seats with integrated headrests, quilted fabric, a Neoprene-covered dashboard and a healthy dose of red stitching. Carbon dashboard trim provides a sort of shelf for the instrument cluster and a 13” infotainment display to be mounted on. Optionally available is the vRS Suite Design Selection which switches the fabric upholstery for suede microfibre and artificial leather, along with electrically adjustable massage seats. Guess which option I fancy?

The Octavia vRS has always been appealing for its mixture of hot-hatch performance in a sensible, usable package and the new model is no different. There is room for five, ISOFIX mounting points for child seats, a 600 litre boot for the hatchback or a 640 litre boot for the estate, along with a healthy dose of the Simply Clever features that make a Skoda a Skoda. In addition to the standard-fit hand brush found in the driver’s door, a funnel-type washer fluid reservoir cap reduces the risk of spilling liquids on expensive-looking electrical components under the bonnet and negates the need to steal a funnel from the kitchen when going to top up the vision juice. Perhaps the most well known features are the umbrella storage slot in the driver’s door and the ice scraper which magnifies the recommended tyre pressure label within the fuel filler flap. 

2024 Skoda Octavia VRS

2024 Skoda Octavia VRS

2024 Skoda Octavia VRS

Leaving the space and practicality aside, a big draw for the vRS is the subtlety of its styling. In a world of AMGs with huge, vertical-straked grilles with bright chrome trim, M3s and M4s with gigantic, meshless kidney grilles and Cupras with enormous gold badges on their noses, the relatively restrained styling of the go-faster Octavia makes for a rare sleeper in this age of performance cars which insist that you know what they’re about. The vRS gains the same new headlight shape as every other Octavia, but features matrix adaptive LED projectors as standard.

The new four-section light design sees a pair of inverted-V-shaped running lights with the inner pair stretching down towards the lower half of the upper grille. The classic Skoda grille design is pinched in the centre making it look slightly reminiscent of the Kia tiger-nose design which I don’t think is a bad thing. The grille surround and strakes are finished in black which makes the grille itself look slightly larger than it is and provides a near seamless connection with the headlight clusters.

Slightly further down, the lower air intake gets a wide honeycomb mesh and angled bumper inserts which create triangular outer air inlet sections. It looks less subtle than before, granted, but it hardly looks shouty. Black window surrounds pair up with dark model and marque badging at the rear and a black rear bumper insert which makes the rear exhaust pipes seem to disappear into the trim. If the trim contrasts, it looks great, but real exhaust outlets are becoming rarer and rarer so I say if you’ve got them, flaunt them. New 19” wheels are promised and although 18” rims are said to be standard, pre-facelift UK-bound models eventually came with the larger rims and I’d expect this to remain the same for the facelift. 

2024 Skoda Octavia VRS

2024 Skoda Octavia VRS

There was also a plug-in hybrid vRS iV which mated the 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo engine to an electric motor and a large battery for a combined 245 bhp, 400 nm (295 lb-ft) and 37 mile WLTP electric-only driving range. Given that the previous model shared its drivetrain with the Volkswagen Golf GTE plug-in hybrid hot hatch which has recently been updated to feature a more powerful and longer EV-only range drivetrain, a new plug-in hybrid Octavia vRS must be on the cards.

Whilst we must wait a little longer for pricing to be announced, we can guess that there will be a bit of an increase over the £36,555 and £37,785 OTR prices for the hatch and estate respectively. The increased standard equipment levels with a larger infotainment display and system that will feature ChatGPT integration for better voice control, 45W USB-C ports (three times more powerful than the previous versions), and an updated keyless entry system that automatically locks the car when the keyholder moves more than 1.5 metres away from the car is bound to bump the price up a little. 

Still, the refreshed 2024 Skoda Octavia vRS looks like a compelling proposition for a spacious, practical family car that doesn’t need to shout about the fact that it can be a little bit silly when you want it to be. When nobody else is looking, of course.


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