Skoda Octavia vRS Blackline estate 2.0 TDI CR 170PS road test review

Skoda Octavia vRS Blackline estate 2.0 TDI CR 170PS road test review

The TotallyMotor Verdict


I think it’s fair to say that Skoda’s Octavia has already earned its reputation for value and practicality, indeed the fairly fast, frugal and vast, £15k Octavia hatch SE 1.2 TSI 105PS, with its punchy little 1200cc turbocharged petrol engine, was one of the biggest hits from our 2011 TotallyMotor test drives list.

So, how about some more go-go with your new Octavia? And PR-generously, with some free extra kit. Here’s the newest Octavia, and probably the last before the new model arrives; the special edition – just 500 – Octavia vRS Blackline, in super-practical estate shape. It’s got 170bhp, a boot to get lost in and a quoted combined economy of 49.6mpg; CO2 at 149g/km. Here’s what I thought of it after a week behind the leathery wheel and a good 250 miles of motorways, commuting and back lane fun.


Skoda Octavia vRS Blackline estate 2.0 TDI CR 170PS road test review   

First impressions:
Let’s start with this lovely Race Blue metallic paint drenched over our TotallyMotor test car. One of three colour choices for the vRS Blackline specials, with Candy White and Black Magic pearl, too. It’s a cracking colour and complements the Octavia vRS estate’s understated lines like a good suit.

The Blackline 18-inch Neptune alloys – finished in black – also add their dash of quiet-class; mix in the all over colour-coding and LED daytime driving lights, and you’ve got a quietly confident Octavia estate shape, with a hint of the bold. But never brash.


Into the interior:
This is where many potential Octavia vRS Blackline customers will be interested to look, because inside is where we find many of the no-cost extras that make this car a special edition. Namely an ‘Amundsen’ sat-nav and DAB radio – which sounds beefy-bass fantastic, by the way – acoustic rear parking sensors, and vRS-branded leather/synthetic upholstery over handsome sports seats.

Satellite navigation is an expensive upgrade in many real-world-priced cars, and we’d all like it, but sometimes steer clear and use our smartphones instead. Factory sat-nav is also a great selling point should your car make it into the used car classifieds. Well, it’s here in the Blackline; part of £1,905 worth of free goodies.

The look and feel of the Octavia’s interior keeps a sedate pace with the exterior styling; understated, uncluttered and engineered. Not a button to be found on the ‘vRS’-badged leather steering wheel, and, indeed, a minimum of finger-controls across the dashboard and centre console. It’s all there where you need it, but not a frivolous button more.

The trim panels have a pleasant carbon fibre-esque look to them and everything fits and works with reassuring feel. A touch of the hard plastic here and there and the roof handles aren’t that softly dampened, but I don’t, and you probably won’t, care about these little bits when this car’s sticker price is considered.

And, of course, there’s the space – the Octavia estate is big of cabin and vast of boot.


The drive:
I’ve already had the pleasure of test-driving the Octavia vRS hatch with petrol power; all 200bhp of it, and again, it was one of the very top scorers in our long list of TotallyMotor test drives.

The vRS diesel looses out around 30bhp to its petrol cousin, with 170bhp on tap, but where the petrol motor makes a useful 280Nm of torque, or oil-burner here makes a fairly whopping 350Nm of grunt.

Sure, the petrol is faster; 7.2 seconds to 62mph versus 8.3 seconds for the diesel; with top speeds at 150mph and 140mph, respectively. But, the 2-litre turbodiesel motor is easier to drive – both quick and cruising – than the more revs-needed-for-power petrol powerplant – thanks to the diesel’s wall of torque that hits early in the rev range. The diesel is the clear winner on the eco-stakes too at 149g/km of CO2 against 175g, and a combined economy of 49.6mpg playing the petrol at 37.7mpg.

The lusty turbodiesel motor is mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox – nifty DSG also available – and with all that torque I found it a breeze to march through those six snicky ratios and onto good speeds, with relentless thrust. At full thrust she’s a little throaty, but at a cruise you won’t notice much or any annoying diesel soundtrack. Effortlessly quick then, and even after a fair bit of the full-tilt-fun, I still couldn’t nudge the mpg-metre below a healthy 45mpg.

The chassis here leans more towards the sporty side of life – which suits me and the car’s vRS badge – but that’s the only leaning it does. Turn in is quick, precise and sticky, with the firm suspension keeping the Octavia vRS on line and body-roll-free, with grip and confidence.

The torque will overwhelm the front tyres’ grip in the wet, releasing a judder from the wheels through to the cabin – there is no special (and expensive) limited-slip differential here. In the dry, you can mostly apply all the punt you want, and in the middle of the six gear ratios, through your favourite twisty lanes, the diesel-powered vRS estate is a whole lot of fun to drive with gusto. And then, at the end of the fun times in the country, you can pick up the kids; the dogs; the spouse, and a 60-inch plasma TV, and be home in time for tea.


Ten second sum up:
The Skoda Octavia vRS estate Blackline diesel limited edition is impossible not to recommend. It borders on the ‘very fast’, consistently turns in 45mpg+, looks special but not lairy, and can haul the biggest kitchen sink you’ve ever seen. Sure, £22,300 on-the-road is no chump change, but it’s one hell of a whole lot of car for the money.


Prices and availability:
The Skoda Octavia vRS estate Blackline – in hatchback and estate body styles – is limited to 500 units and is priced at £21,260 (hatchback, diesel engine, manual transmission), and £22,300 (estate, diesel, manual). Available now, but be quick!

By Daniel Anslow

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