Your teenage years can be frustrating for a multitude of reasons, not least of all because you can’t drive! As someone who has been a massive petrol-head since birth, the countdown to my 17th birthday seemed to take forever.
As is customary, I would tell everyone about the cars I lusted after. Unfortunately for me, those cars were SKODAs and this was the 1990s. Back then, having pictures of SKODAs on your bedroom wall led you to be ridiculed and excluded from social circles. I remember vividly, the countless times I had to try to defend my love for the marque – it was no easy task.
To have come from that position to today is quite astounding. I now seem people actively seeking ownership of a SKODA and the interest and hype on social media about the new KODIAQ vRS has been quite phonemical.
But how did this happen? I think the transformation started back in 2001 with the launch of the SKODA Octavia vRS. Based on the practical and reliable first-generation Octavia platform, SKODA dropped in a 1.8 20v turbo engine with 180bhp. A bodykit transformed the outside and sports seats, silver dials and trim and a fancy gearknob brightened the interior. If I remember correctly the price was just £15,100. This was a car to make ordinary folk sit up and pay attention. Here was SKODA, who a few years ago produced nothing more powerful than a 64bhp 1.3, with a 150mph hot-hatch.
I remember vividly the first time I saw one. We were going on a family holiday and stopped at a service station, and there it was, splendid in yellow. The owner kindly let me sit in the car, although I think he was a bit bemused that someone was that interested in his car!
From there, the vRS brand continued to grow. The second-generation Octavia remained a bargain-bruiser with a 2.0tfsi engine, 6-speed manual gearbox and 7.2 seconds 0-60 time. It was here that we saw the gorgeous Race Blue for the first time too. It was with the mk2 Octavia that SKODA also achieved the World Record for the World’s Fastest 2.0 Production Car when, in 2012, Richard Meaden drove a modified Octavia to over 200mph. The fact that you could, for around £22,000, own a car related to this 200 mile-an-hour record break only helped to bolster the vRS badge.
But I think SKODA’s next move, really helped establish them as a genuine driver’s car manufacturer. For, back in 2003, they shoved a 130bhp 1.9TDi into the snout of the Fabia, launching the Fabia vRS. No one had done this before and the very idea that you could compete with a Mini Cooper with a diesel SKODA was not something the press were willing to accept easily. But accept they might, thanks in part to the infamous appearance on Top Gear.
The Fabia was a sales success as the elusive combination of economy and performance drew buyer after buying into the SKODA showroom. To this day, I think many are still driving SKODAs having been bitten by the marque. Whilst there is no longer a Fabia vRS, the Monte Carlo models continue to offer a warm hatchback set-up and the success of the Fabia R5 will hopefully lead to Skoda giving up another sporty Fabia.
In the meantime, the mk3 Octavia has arrived. The vRS version, available with petrol and diesel options as with the mk2, saw new levels of maturity and refinement. For the first time, drivers could fine-tune their driving experience with selectable driving modes. SKODA have steadily developed the car since its launch in 2013 and it is now available with a 245bhp 2.0 petrol engine and either a DSG or manual gearbox.
And now, 18 years after the first Octavia vRS hit our shores, it is to be joined by a new breed of vRS; the KODIAQ vRS. Propelled by a 2.0 diesel producing 239bhp and 369ib-ft, the Kodiaq holds the Nurburgring record for the fastest 7-seat SUV.
The new KODIAQ vRS is now at White Dove Skoda in South Wales – they were chosen to have one of these in their showroom. With over 60 years in the business of selling cars, White Dove Group have a wealth of experience and knowledge to help make choosing your next car easier, and as one of Wale’s largest SKODA retailers, they always carry a good stock of new and used models.
Guest Blog written by: Mr Rob Parker-Norman. White Dove SKODA would like to thank Rob for writing this excellent blog on the history of the vRS!
Rob's Facebook account is here.
Rob's website can be found here.
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