When vRS is insufficient, perhaps it’s time to take on a Challenge

Recognising that the Czechs possess both the will and the way to create an ultimate hot hatch, Iain Robertson feels confident that an even hotter version of the current Skoda Octavia vRS will become a much-loved and admired prospect for many.

Positioned above the standard vRS offering, with the brand’s acclaimed 2.0 TSI engine in ECU-upgraded 241bhp form, the Octavia vRS Challenge combines hugely impressive performance with high equipment levels and a truly beautiful cabin. It is available in both five-door hatchback and estate forms. The Challenge specification is priced from £30,085 (hatch) and £31,285 (estate) before any discounts are applied, as a clear sign that Skoda UK believes the brand can tolerate a sizeable step-up in prices.

To be fair, the car features a comprehensive and high-quality trim level that builds on the already generous equipment provided by the standard model. It comes complete with a host of striking exterior design features over the standard version, including 19.0-inch diameter Xtreme black alloy wheels, sports exhaust with black trim, black folding and auto-dimming door mirrors and black vRS badging.

Inside, over the standard model, the vRS Challenge is fitted with figure-hugging Alcantara vRS seats, finished in an attractive quilted pattern that are electronically adjustable and heated for both the driver and front-seat passenger. A colour trip computer with lap timer is also fitted as standard, along with keyless entry and start.

Dynamic chassis control (DCC) is another advanced feature that comes as part of the vRS Challenge package. DCC uses electrically regulated dampers and steering to deliver the most capable driving experience. Each individual damper is connected to a control device that calculates the most apposite bounce and rebound setting for each wheel. This allows the system to react within milliseconds to bumps in the road, when changing lanes, or tackling tortuous winding routes. Front assist and front and rear parking sensors are also included in the Challenge package. 

As mentioned earlier, its 2.0 TSI motor develops 241bhp, which ensures a 0-60mph sprint in just 6.3 seconds and a top speed of around 160mph. Allied to 272lbs ft of torque, its mid-range pull is strident, whether driving through a six-speed manual, or a seven-speed DSG transmission. Fitting the car with an electronically-regulated limited-slip differential (LSD) allows the driver to fully exploit the Skoda’s performance envelope. The VAQ LSD was developed originally for motorsport and works with an electronically managed multi-plate clutch located between the differential and the powered axle on the right-hand side. When needed, 100% of the power can be directed to one front wheel alone. When cornering, the differential transfers an increased amount of engine power to the outside front wheel (the one with the most grip) as required.

Equipment highlights shared with the standard vRS range include: Amundsen sat-nav, with 8.0-inch touchscreen display and integrated Wi-Fi, full LED headlights with adaptive front light system and LED daytime running lights, LED interior light pack (10 colours) and a three-spoke leather-wrapped multi-function sports steering wheel with vRS logo (and paddles for the DSG-equipped models).

FCD Summary

While it is a pity that Skoda does not produce a vRS version of the Fabia any longer, an even sportier Octavia highlights that the company can still do it in fine style.

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