New 2020 Skoda Octavia vRS ready for hybrid power

The next Skoda Octavia vRS hot hatch will come with petrol, diesel and plug-in performance options

The newly launched Skoda Octavia is poised to get its widest range of high-performance variants ever, Auto Express can reveal, because the family car’s vRS line-up will include a hybrid version for the first time.

The Octavia has always had one of the most varied approaches to what constitutes a hot hatch. As well as hatchback and estate bodystyles, two and four-wheel drive, it’s also been offered with diesel power as a more efficient alternative to the conventional turbo petrol versions.

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Senior company sources have told Auto Express that this policy will continue with the new model, which was unveiled in November. But in the name of efficiency, Skoda’s engineers have also found a way of cranking up the VW Group’s plug-in hybrid powertrain to become a performance variant in its own right.

The new Octavia vRS PHEV will use the same 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine as the recently launched Golf GTE. No power figures have been confirmed for the hot hybrid, but Auto Express understands that the new model is being tuned to match the output of the petrol vRS. That model will use the 2.0-litre turbo petrol motor from the VW Group’s ubiquitous EA888 family.

Skoda wants its next vRS (previewed in our exclusive images) to be the most powerful ever, so we can expect the petrol version to develop in excess of 245bhp – more than the output of the vRS 245 that was sold in the second half of the Mk3 Octavia’s life.

Assuming that the 1.4 TSI engine produces the same 148bhp as it does in the Golf GTE, that would leave around 100bhp to be developed by the electric motor, which will be sited, as usual, between the car’s engine and gearbox.

The total system torque is expected to be around 400Nm – enough to get the car (which will have a dual-clutch automatic gearbox and no manual option) from 0-62mph in about seven seconds.

Perhaps a bigger challenge for the Skoda team will be keeping the vRS PHEV’s weight down and maintaining handling agility. The car will have a battery of at least 13kWh and this, coupled with the extra motor, will add more than 250kg to the kerbweight.

As such, expect the vRS PHEV to be slightly slower in a straight line than the petrol version. But equally, that battery will give it the ability to go for about 30 miles on electricity alone – potentially giving the Octavia vRS a key advantage over rivals like the Ford Focus ST.

The Octavia vRS diesel will continue to use the existing EA288 motor with up to 197bhp. Skoda is said to have ruled out fitting the twin-turbocharged version of this engine, which is currently used in the Kodiaq vRS, where it makes 237bhp.

Sources are remaining tight-lipped on when the range of Octavia vRS models will reach showrooms. However, we’re likely to see the car for the first time in the spring, perhaps as one of Skoda’s big debuts at the Geneva Motor Show. That would mean UK sales could start by next autumn. The plug-in vRS has the potential to be the most expensive Octavia in the model’s history, with a price tag approaching £32,000.

Do you think the new Skoda Octavia vRS PHEV will be a success? Let us know your thoughts below…

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