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Skoda Octavia vRS 4x4 takes colder temperatures in its stride

Skoda Octavia vRS. Picture: Skoda

Skoda Octavia vRS. Picture: Skoda

Skoda

Mal Hay ponders on the benefits of driving a Skoda Octavia vRS 4x4 as temperatures begin to fall.

Skoda Octavia vRS combines pace with space. Picture: PASkoda Octavia vRS combines pace with space. Picture: PA

The arrival of winter means you see a very special side to the Skoda Octavia vRS estate.

It’s an incredibly well-planted car with superb poise and balance that allows you to throw it round corners without ever feeling unstable but, with wet leaves on the road, mud in the fields and frost, the car’s superb 4×4 capabilities shine.

It made light work of my escape when I was forced to park at the bottom of a steep slope in a quagmire of a field for a kids’ football match, allowing me to breeze past parents with their wheels spinning in far fancier motors.

And while others on my road struggle to slip and slide off their driveways on an icy morning, I was off on my way without a hint of hassle. And I really appreciated the excellent heated seats.

Skoda Octavia vRS estate is now available with four-wheel drive. Picture: PASkoda Octavia vRS estate is now available with four-wheel drive. Picture: PA

There are some other features that will come in incredible handy as the temperatures drop and the roads get muckier. The headlamp washers are proving a godsend and the windscreen scraper, cleverly stowed inside the fuel filler cap, is a neat touch.

But, let’s face it, superb all-weather traction and off-roading ability is not the reason you’d choose a Skoda Octavia VRS. If that’s what you wanted, you’d go for a proper 4×4. You’d choose the vRS estate because you need the space but still want the sportiness and enjoyment of the sleeker hatchback. It’s for those who refuse to grow up fully when they become fathers and their motoring needs change.

But, despite my best efforts, I still find the car lacking in this area which, for me, would be one of the biggest reasons to select a vRS over an ordinary estate.

I really have tried to squeeze every ounce of performance and fun out of it but even with ‘vRS’ mode selected and the DSG automatic gearbox switched to manual mode, the 2.0-litre turbo diesel still feels underpowered to deliver the pure driving thrills and enjoyment of the petrol alternative.

Skoda Octavia vRS instruments. Pictures: PASkoda Octavia vRS instruments. Pictures: PA

Were the same model, in the same spec, available with the petrol powerplant – it’s not – I could be persuaded to part with my hard-earned cash.

I’ve grown to love most other things about this car. It’s superbly well-equipped, handles well, drives brilliantly, is spacious, comfortable, reliable, economical and very good looking.

I’m just not convinced this particular model has the spark to really turn up the heat.

SPEC AND TECH
Price: Skoda Octavia vRS estate £29,400

Engine: 1,968cc, 184PS, four-cylinder turbo diesel with six-speed automatic gearbox

Performance: 0-60mph 7.4 seconds; top speed 139mph

MPG: 55.4 combined

CO2 emissions: 134g/km

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Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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