The Octavia vRS is truly Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. When I want it to be quiet, docile and subtle, it can be (apart from the Race Blue colour which always attracts attention!). When I put it in S mode and floor it, the engine note is loud, the DSG fart is loud and there is a bit of wheel spin and off it goes!
It’s hilarious to experience this side of the vRS. The fuel economy drops from 13-15kmpl to single digits as fast as it accelerates!
I have really started to appreciate the mile munching characteristics of the vRS.
I made a trip to Hyderabad and back a couple of weeks back. On our way there, my friend and I were relaxed and talking and barely noticed how quickly we were covering distances. The car masks speed beautifully and we can cruise at 100-120 all day long and the car returns fuel mileage as well at those speeds.
Any overtaking to be done is finished with no fuss and in a matter of seconds. No car is difficult to overtake. A slight dab on the A pedal and irrespective of which gear I am in, the car moves quickly and overtakes the vehicle in front.
While overtaking a bigger vehicle like a truck or a container lorry, a slightly harder jab on the A pedal results in the car down shifting 1 or 2 gears and leaping forward. A firm push in the back is the only evidence that the car is accelerating quickly.
The engine refinement is exceptional at highway speeds. Wind Noise though could be better controlled in my opinion. There is a substantial amount of wind noise when cruising at slightly higher speeds.
The suspension too works beautifully on Indian highways. I barely have to slow down for any curves or corners. Whatever the situation, I can just turn the steering wheel and I know the suspension, chassis and tyres are working together to keep in my lane and most importantly, without any fuss. The passengers just don’t feel anything. The stiffer suspension is a real boon at these points. Of course, the moment I hit an expansion joint or a pothole, the entire car is thrown up in the air and anyone not paying attention to the road starts complaining about how “Rashly” I am driving!
The steering weighs up quite well at highway speeds and feels quite stable. It doesn’t feel nervous or twitchy. I’ve mentioned before that there is an artificially weighted feel to the steering and that is still the case, but I’ve gotten used to it and started to enjoy the steering feel.
The brakes are more than adequate. Emergency stops from 120-ish are done without any drama. There have been ocassions when I have to exceed the speed limit slightly to complete an overtaking manouevre and then suddenly have had to brake thanks to an animal on the road or a villager ambling along a National Highway. None of these incidents have been noteworthy even though I had to brake suddenly from 110-120kmph. That just shows how good the brakes are.
The brakes arent perfect though. I have experienced two issues with them. One is that the brakes are always noisy and squeaking. Initially I ignored it thinking my brake pads are reaching the end of their life. However, even after changing the brake pads to brand new OEM brake pads, the brakes are still squeaking. Especially at part-applications of the Brake Pedal.
The second issue is far more worrying. At certain speeds, when I apply the brakes gently but firmly, there is a long, deep moan from the pads. As if the pads have overheated. There is also a vibration from the brake pedal when this happens. Definitely results in a lack of confidence. I don’t feel braking distance has increased, but I could be wrong. When this happens, if I stomp on the brake pedal harder, it behaves better and this weird noise/vibration goes away.
Fuel Economy in this car has been way beyond my expectations. If I drive aggressively, downshifting every time I get a chance to overtake and flooring it a lot, the FE drops to single digits. Even then, with the most aggressive driving, 8kmpl is almost assured unless I’m driving like an absolute moron.
At highway cruising at high speeds, I see about 10kmpl for sure.
Anything lower, like 100-ish, I can easily get 14kmpl or more depending on traffic and how aggressively I downshift to overtake.
In the city, fuel economy is pathetic. What makes it worse in my usage is that my office isnt too far from home. So, when I leave home in the morning, I reach office in about 30 minutes. And because the engine runs very rich when it’s cold, the fuel economy on my first trip of the day is always horrendous. Depending on the traffic on the route, it is common to see 5-6kmpl. On a good day, with minimal traffic, I can see about 7 kmpl. There are days I’ve even seen 4 kmpl or so.
Once the engine is warmed up, in Bangalore with it’s award winning traffic, I usually get about 6-7 kmpl. Very rarely do I get more unless I drive far off and use ring roads where traffic moves constantly. Idling at traffic signals absolutely KILLS the fuel economy.
Attaching some photos of various drives I've done to give you an idea of how fuel efficient the car can be.
Comparison with a Mercedes E Class:
Over the past few days I had a chance to drive a W212 E350 and while they are wildly different cars, the BHP numbers are similar enough for me to attempt a comparison.
The E350 has a 3.0 litre V6 Diesel engine putting out 265 bhp and 622 NM of Torque.
The DSG in the vRS is superbly quick. I truly appreciate it after experience the very slow gearbox in the E Class. The DSG makes the vRS a very quick city car as well. I can see a small gap in traffic and prod the A Pedal a little harder and instantly, the gap reduces and I can squeeze in. No drama, nothing. There’s plenty of torque to cover gaps in the same gear, and if a downshift is required, it happens super quickly too. Sometimes I’m scared of prodding the A pedal a bit harder because if it downshifts, there’s just too much power and torque and there’s a big risk of crashing into another vehicle because the vRS is just that fast.
And of course, if I am the first car at the traffic light, I floor it and the car just takes off, I rev it till the red line and the loud exhaust BRRRAAAAAAAP can be heard by everyone around me!
The same sort of situation in the E Class leads to very different results. In traffic, if I need to downshift quickly to cover a gap or overtake another vehicle, the Torque Converter is very slow to downshift. Usually, it has enough torque to move without downshifting but sometimes a downshift is required and that’s where the DSG is in a league of it’s own.
What is absolutely scary with the E Class is the way it picks up speed. I have always said that the vRS doesn’t feel as fast or scary as my Turbo Civic. However, it’s much more communicative than the E Class.
The difference in pedigree and intended usage is clear. The E Class is as fast or faster than the vRS but there is just NO DRAMA! If you arent careful, you will have a very bad accident very fast! The E Class just takes off. 245/45-17 tyres ensure there isnt any wheelspin(at least in the E mode that I was driving in) and suddenly you are approaching highway speeds! There is ABSOLUTELY no noise. The car is extremely well damped and insulated and you don’t hear or feel the engine at all. If you don’t have any music in the car, you may just hear the engine revving to it’s sky high rev limit of 4500 rpm!
It’s a totally different kind of fun. The steering of the E Class feels much better than the vRS though at city speeds. Even though that’s also an EPS(I think?), it feels heavier and better weighted than the vRS Steering. The vRS steering feels extremely light and uncommunicative at slow speeds.
The suspension of the E Class is also tuned more for comfort but it’s good enough even when pushed a little bit.
One thing though I am not able to put my finger or explain clearly is the feeling of the RWD E Class. I havent done any hard cornering to really feel the RWD difference but the power delivery does feel a little different. I feel pushed in the E Class while in the vRS I feel like I am being pulled and I am just hanging on to the steering wheel for dear life.
The ride comfort and the refinement on the E Class was obviously far better and shockingly, the door beadings and sunroof werent creaking!
Every bump or rut in the road that made it’s presence felt in the vRS was barely felt in the E Class. I absolutely loved this isolated feeling and the magic carpet like ride.
The AC for some reason in the E Class took more time to cool down the car compared to the vRS. Usually Skodas arent known for quick cooling but this time I felt it did a great job compared to the E Class. Could it be the extra glass area in the E Class compared to the vRS? Or the panoramic sunroof in the E Class? I have no idea but definitely I felt much more comfortable in the vRS.
The Auto start stop is of course annoying in the vRS but the E Class is no better. Every time I switched on the car, I had to switch off the “Eco” mode which enables auto Start Stop. I wish both cars had an easy way to disable it a 100%.
While driving the vRS, I have become very used to driving slowly till the Oil Temp reaches at least a 100° C.
I didn’t realise how useful this is and how used to it I had gotten until I swapped cars. The E being a diesel takes ages to warm up. On top of that, the gauge only shows coolant temp and not oil temp. Having experienced how slowly oil warms up compared to coolant in the vRS, I had to give a much longer warm up period before I could floor it and make full use of the 6 cylinders.
The oil temp display is an excellent feature on the vRS. Many times I find an opportunity to floor it early in the morning, but one look at the oil temp and I go from leadfoot to lightfoot!
Finally, the E Class feels slow. I mean this at part throttle, of course. Obviously, once it gets going, it just goes, but in the city, it needs more patience to drive. This is an observation not just related to the gearbox. Obviously the DSG is lightning quick compared to the slow and lazy Torque Converter in the Merc. However, even in-gear acceleration from low rpms, the diesel feels very slow. The vRS seems to close gaps in the traffic far quicker without downshifting. When I started driving the E I didn’t realise how slow it was but after driving it for a week and then shifting back to the vRS, I realised the rapid progress I could make with the vRS was unmatched.
Even at part throttle applications, the vRS feels much faster. It feels lighter, easier to rev and quicker to reach it's powerband.
Gaps in traffic are very easy to close in the vRS. Just a gentle prod on the A pedal and the car moves with zero drama but very quickly. Think of a Ninja. Moves quickly but stealthily. However though, there's no comparison with the E on an open road. The E just takes off with no drama.
A recent episode of The Grand Tour featured a drag race between a couple of supercars and the Rimac C2 with Jeremy Clarkson saying about the Rimac "That Rimac just took* off". The E Class feels like that. I am not sure whether it really will open up a gap to the vRS in a drag race, but it feels
7.5 months and 23,500 kms later, I am thoroughly enjoying the car. I’ve grown to appreciate the strength of this car and ignore it’s weaknesses(especially in the areas of “Feel” ).
This is a great daily drive car. Very quiet and refined all the time but mind-numbingly fast cross country when you need it to be.
The car looks stunning and the BBS Wheels elevate this to a special league populated by very few cars. Even parked next to a mega-sounding R8 V10 Plus with customised wheels, the blue vRS holds it’s own! It doesn’t pale into insignificance!
Pics of my car with some distant cousins from the same family.