Time Flies When You’re Having Fun – 15 Years of Skoda vRS

Apparently in the VAG world it’s the time for anniversaries. Following on from 40 years of GTI, it’s Skoda’s turn to celebrate 15 years of its vRS performance arm.

Doesn’t seem like it, but the first Skoda vRS – the Mk1 Octavia – was launched in the UK back in 2001. Since then, the unlikely has happened; Skoda – a brand much maligned (possibly unfairly) for so long – has gained not only an army of fans, but a scene all of its own.

Under the stewardship of VW, Skoda has gone from strength-to-strength, but let’s be honest, it’s the performance arm that has really built the manufacturer into a ‘brand’. Across its 15 years, Skoda has released five different vRS variants and is there a snotter among them? Put simply, no. The formula has remained consistent – create fun, practical and fast cars accessible to the masses. So much so, in fact, that one-in-five Octavias on the road is now a vRS.

Skoda Fabia vRS

‘Diesel hot hatch’. Back in 2003 that was basically a contradiction in terms. It didn’t stop Skoda chucking the VAG 1.9-litre, 130bhp turbodiesel donk under the bonnet. Tuneable to an easy 150bhp+ without much effort, the first vRS Fabia was one of the first genuine performance diesels and paved the way for subsequent derv-powered VAG vehicles.

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Skoda overhauled the Fabia vRS in 2010, using the twin-charged 1.4 TSI unit packing a cool 178bhp which motivated it to 60 in just over 7 seconds.

Skoda Octavia vRS

It’s easy to get a first attempt performance model very wrong. Skoda didn’t.

Launched in 2001 the Octavia vRS was based on the Volkswagen Group A platform and used the 1.8 20v turbo lump. With 180bhp, solid (if not exactly lively) handling and a 146mph top speed, the Mk1 Octavia was an instant hit – especially with police pursuit drivers – and was a pretty good ‘Q’ car with it.

Octavia vRS Mk1

Skoda release the Mk2 vRS Octavia in 2005 to much critical acclaim. Packing a 200bhp 2-litre turbo unit, like its forebear it was easily tunable – to the extent that back in 2011 Skoda UK strapped on a supercharger and extracted a potent 600bhp, went to Bonneville and set a 2-litre production car speed record at a snip over 227mph.

The latest iteration is the most powerful road going Skoda ever, coming with up to 230bhp in petrol form and 180bhp with a 2-litre diesel. VW’s acclaimed DSG gearbox has helped put the Octavia up there with the best fast saloons on the market.

Skoda Octavia vRS Mk1 and 3

Anyone buying into the fast Skoda family nowadays is well catered for with a huge number of aftermarket specialists available to take these already capable cars to the next level. The likes of REVO Technik, Shark Performance and JabbaSport are capable of helping owners take their vRSs to the next level. Contributor to Performance VW – and self-confessed Skoda-phile – Rob Waite has done that with a succession of performance Skoda models, so for inspiration keep an eye on the ‘Our Cars’ section of the magazine!

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