Skoda Octavia vRS iV plug-in hybrid review

Skoda's first crack at a sporty plug-in hybrid is a mixed bag, but company-car users will be happy

£35,020 - £36,220
Plug-in hybrid

Pros

  • Efficient with good electric range
  • Great company car choice
  • Nice interior

Cons

  • Not as good to drive as non-hybrid models
  • Smaller boot than conventional Octavia estate
  • Odd synthesised engine note
Car type Electric range Fuel economy CO2
Plug-in hybrid 37 miles 188mpg 34g/km

The new Skoda Octavia vRS iV is a plug-in hybrid version of the brand's sporty Golf-based family car, joining the less powerful plug-in version that sits further down the range. It uses the same 1.4-litre petrol engine and electric motor as the Volkswagen Golf GTE, producing a total of 242bhp; a 13kWh battery is enough for a claimed 37-mile electric range. Two body styles are offered – Hatch and Estate.

The vRS iV gets the same aggressive styling cues as the non-hybrid vRS model, including shaper bumpers front and rear, a blacked-out grille and wheels measuring up to 19 inches. However, while the conventionally powered vRS benefits from a stance-improving lowered ride-height, the iV version sits at the same level as the standard Octavia; its battery is mounted in such a way that lower suspension was not feasible. We feel that the vRS iV lacks a degree of sporty intent as a result, at least visually. 

This cosmetic compromise is accompanied by some more telling ones too. The car's battery, as in so many plug-in hybrids, eats into boot space. The 490 litres of remaining space in our Estate test car is still usable, however.

Another issue is that the car's sporting character is dulled slightly by its 250kg of extra hybrid-related weight over the standard car. While the power on tap is decent and the torque sufficient to tug at the steering wheel at full throttle, the vRS iV doesn't feel quite as sprightly as the current non-electrified car. While 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds is brisk enough, it won’t trouble most modern hot hatchbacks. If you like to push on, you'll find that grip limits are reached sooner than in lighter rivals; that said, there's a friendlier balance to the car thanks to the rearward positioning of that extra weight.

It's unlikely that many will care about these slight performance downfalls when the iV's running costs are taken into account. CO2 emissions are very low at 32g/km, which in turn means this Octavia will be a very cheap company-car proposition. The claimed 188.3mpg will only be achievable if you drive like a saint and keep the battery topped up, but real-world figures should get close to those of an equivalent diesel.

The hybrid system itself works well, shuffling smoothly between power sources, working seamlessly with the six-speed dual-clutch gearbox. There can be a small hesitation when pulling away from the lights, but otherwise the drivetrain feels well resolved. 

Elsewhere, the Octavia vRS gets a well designed and modern-feeling cabin with large infotainment screens and plenty of sporty touches, including artificial suede trim and bespoke sports seats. And as this is a Skoda Octavia, there's plenty of space front and rear for all the family. It'll still stand up as a practical family car, even with that reduced load area.

The Skoda Octavia vRS iV stands alone in the market as a sporty plug-in hybrid estate around the £35,000 mark. Its closest rival is perhaps the BMW 330e Touring; pricier, but a much more complete package and so worth the extra outlay – especially if you prioritise driving pleasure.