What was it like living with a hot Skoda estate for six months?
When we took delivery of this Skoda six months ago, it had 56 miles on the clock. Now, it has 15,000. Safe to say, it’s been busy. But the fact it’s also been in such demand suggests our half-year with it has been a positive one.
And so it’s proved. But not straight from the off. This factory-fresh car was tight and pristine, but it wasn’t exactly exciting. The sporty verve, we felt, was lacking. This was a surprise, given how it was a performance-branded machine with a Volkswagen Golf GTI petrol engine.
Then we took it on a track day. And all at last came good. It’s no exaggeration to say the car was transformed. The comfort and refinement were still intact, but the rest of it had seemed to wake up as well. At last, it felt like the dual-purpose practical performance estate car we’d hoped it would be.
This practicality seemed inexhaustible, particularly when we fitted it out with a roof box and bicycle carrier. It shrugged off our jaunt to the Le Mans 24 Hours with aplomb. Those who often carry out the donkey work in the office never once complained about having to take the Octavia and a boot full of exhibition gear.
In all, we’ve taken it to Europe four times. We’ve actually been to Le Mans three of them. But it was the 2000-mile thrash on a mountain bike camping holiday that really proved its mettle. It was as able on the autobahns as it was on the mountain passes and never once did we want for any more space, comfort or refinement.
Indeed, the only time we did want more was when on track days. There’s a clever VAQ limited-slip differential at the front, like in other sporty Volkswagen Group cars. But here, it’s not as aggressive as it is in other models. Experience tells us the greater bite in the others is preferable, but lacking here. Over to the tuners to fix this…
Nothing went wrong in our six months with the Skoda. We had a flat battery, but that was probably our fault, as there was no obvious fault otherwise. This did, however, show up the fact you can have a flat battery and then not be able to unlock the door to open the bonnet, which is a bit of a logic fail. Mechanical help quickly fixed it, though (and also turned off the warning lights on the dash that were stuck on afterwards).
The only other grumble? We wore out the front tyres after just 11,000 miles. But that’s because we were having so much fun with it on all the track days, mountain passes and the like. Now, just like that, it’s gone, and a big hole is left in the office car park. We’ll miss the charismatic, oh-so practical Skoda Octavia vRS, alright. Now we need to find something that’s the equal of this fun all-rounder. Wish us luck.
2016 Skoda Octavia vRS 230 Estate
On fleet since: April 2016
List price new: £29,910
(Basic list of £27,800 plus £550 for tow bar, £765 for Adaptive Cruise Control, Crew Protection Assist for £150, Heated seats for £200, Simply Clever package for £85 and Meteor Grey paint for £360)