Arguably greater than every other model within the VW empire, diesel suited Skoda. This utilized to their efficiency merchandise, too. Patrons thought of them pragmatic, environment friendly and unassuming – which chimed properly with trendy oil burning engines. Far more so than with its stablemates. The Fabia vRS turned a cult traditional; the Ibiza Cupra TDI didn’t. Even for mighty VW, the GTD is a footnote within the Golf’s storied historical past. The vRS nameplate although was free to embrace each petrol and diesel with out treating one as an inferior possibility.

Now after all, issues are a bit totally different. Patrons nonetheless like to think about Skoda as a realistic, environment friendly and unassuming, however the black pump is beginning to appear to be none of these items. Clearly that is a half fact: this newest vRS, powered by the VW Group’s newest iteration of two.0-litre diesel engine, employs two selective catalytic discount (SCR) filters and twin AdBlue injection. It has been made as virtuous as potential whereas nonetheless delivering extra energy than its predecessor. However the introduction of a 30g/km plug-in hybrid choice to the vRS is ominious. Terminal, even, from an organization automobile purchaser’s perspective.

Which is a disgrace in some respects, as a result of all of the virtues that stood proud and true earlier than are nonetheless intact. With out attempting too onerous, the vRS TDI is a broadly succesful and quietly spectacular. Outdoors it is ndistinguishable from the petrol vRS, the 19-inch wheels filling out the arches handsomely sufficient and the small print updating the Octavia silhouette fairly properly – definitely in addition to the Leon equal, and arguably making for a extra profitable replace than Volkswagen managed with the newest Golf.

The inside is an identical, too, which is much less deserving of reward. Not solely does the expunging of bodily switchgear in favour of touchscreens discovered throughout MQB Evo fashions make capabilities tougher to navigate on the transfer, within the Octavia they merely weren’t as responsive they wanted to be. And that was after they had been working; one 60-minute journey noticed simply ‘loading settings’ displayed on the 10-inch central display except the drive mode selector was pressed. Which then flashed up the CarPlay possibility overlaid with the dynamic parameters. Apparently it fastened itself afterward. Nevertheless it’s exactly this form of software program gremlin that underlines simply how needlessly difficult infotainment techniques have change into.

Nonetheless, it meant there was no excuse for not specializing in the drive expertise – which in all probability labored within the automobile’s favour. Actually no repeat vRS purchaser goes to grouse. The newest EA288 Evo unit might be among the many final quantity four-cylinder oil burners to nonetheless reap the advantage of the business’s way back laid wager on the way forward for diesel; thus it finds itself as match as a butcher’s canine in 2021, even whether it is to no avail. The modest enhance in energy does not inform the total story of the brand new mannequin’s responsiveness: that glut of torque from only a few revs – at all times the vRS calling card – has swelled to an unbelievable surfeit in on a regular basis use. Discovering the redline has change into no extra attention-grabbing than it was earlier than, however the automobile stays pleasantly, purposefully brisk within the sort of in-gear, gap-finding approach that maximises its apparent usability. At 295lb ft, the TDI delivers extra peak twist than the 245hp petrol vRS we drove earlier this month. Most of the time, it makes the distinction a advantage.

After all, endeavour to do something extra bold than making a set of lights, and the disparity elsewhere is not any much less obvious. Though it is price caveating them with the advantage of back-to-back expertise: in isolation, the TDI not often appears like it’s overburdened with mass upfront, and nor does the engine really feel mismatched with the firmer chassis. Given how leaden front-wheel drive diesel efficiency vehicles may really feel only a technology in the past, the vRS’s rolling refinement and relative eagerness are fairly onerous to fault.

However the petrol mannequin is undeniably superior. A few of that’s because of the choices – the wagon we drove had adaptive dampers, this one did not – and that is proved a nail within the coffin for VW Group merchandise earlier than. However there are elementary variations, too. The place the petrol vRS will get the VAQ know-how that mimics a restricted slip differential, the diesel goes with out; thus cornering is clumsier and fewer satisfying than within the petrol automobile. Not disastrously so – the sunshine steering is correct, and grip fairly good – however there is not the identical tenacity in terms of holding a line, and the TDI’s further torque means it calls on stability management extra usually. A few of the edge is gone.

And that is regardless of sporting the passive suspension which offers extra of it from a trip high quality perspective. Once more, in isolation you’d simply forgive the compromise sought by Skoda – however it’s onerous to overlook the additional bandwidth permitted by the £945 DCC tick. Most Octavia patrons will seemingly favour consolation; the adaptive dampers do a greater job of meting out it. Easy as that actually.

Truth is although that the TDI stays massively comfy in its personal pores and skin. It says you’ve got made a reasoned, sensible resolution. It’s going to do 50mpg, no downside. And in addition 155mph, if you happen to’re sufficiently eager. Furthermore, if you happen to purchased it as a wagon, with DCC fitted, and with all-wheel drive (an possibility not accessible to petrol patrons – or Golf GTD clients) you may end up in possession of precisely the form of efficiency sleeper that Skoda has been threatening to construct because the Fabia vRS. After all, even when that is true, the TDI continues to be seemingly headed for a distinct segment place available in the market – one made smaller nonetheless by the incoming hybrid. Nonetheless, if you happen to’ve obtained large miles to cowl, and muddle to take alongside, and a middling funds to do it, you would do an terrible lot worse than the diesel vRS. The hybrid is unlikely to alter that opinion one bit.

SPECIFICATION | SKODA OCTAVIA IV VRS TDI

Engine: 1,968cc, four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: 7-speed DSG, front-wheel drive
Energy (hp): [email protected],600-4,100rpm
Torque (lb ft): [email protected],750-3,500rpm
0-62mph: 7.4sec
High velocity: 155mph
Weight: 1,516-1,625kg (Skoda quoted weights with driver)
MPG: 56.9 (WLTP)
CO2: 130g/km
Worth: £32,260 (worth as normal; worth as examined £33,240 comprised of Racing Blue metallic paint for £595, Spacesaver wheels for £185 and Tow bar preparation for £200