A modified version of the Skoda Octavia VRS has officially become the world’s fastest two-litre production car. Taking part in the famous Speed Week trials at the Bonneville salt flats in Utah, the Octavia recorded times of 225mph and 228mph on Thursday and Friday last week.
This gave an official time of 227.1mph, giving this extraordinary crown to this otherwise ordinary hatchback – and welcoming its driver, journalist Richard Meeden, into the 200mph club.
I was at Bonneville to watch the record speed being achieved, and Meeden being given the hallowed red baseball cap, and the piece of paper proving him among the fastest people to ever drive on earth.
He told the Daily Telegraph that driving at 200mph on salt is “daunting, mesmerising, exhilarating, serene and incredibly addictive”.
The car was produced by starting with a standard Octavia VRS. The interior was entirely stripped out and replaced with a rollcage, with a head support device for the driver in case of accidents.
The engine began life as a standard turbocharged 200hp VRS unit. Under the guidance of specialist tuner Revotechnik, the engine has been tuned up to well over 500hp.
Key changes made include changing the inlet manifold, swapping in an aluminium unit (better able to handle the extra heat generated over the original plastic item), which also has a set of extra injectors – purely because with such enormous power demands the standard item cannot inject fuel quickly enough.
Another key addition is a new vast shiny single turbocharger, a Precision Engineering GT35 62R, which can deliver 40-45 pounds of boost. However the record run was set with it running at 35 pounds, leading to the engineers claiming that given perfect conditions – the fastest speed run was set despite a debilitating 15mph cross wind – and full boost, the car could have done 235mph at a push.
The standard VRS gearbox was replaced – somewhat improbably – by a longer-legged example borrowed from an eco special Octavia Greenline. Narrow moon alloy wheels boost the aerodynamics, while the car has no brakes at all; a parachute performs that role.
A brand to beat
The record marks ten years of Skoda selling its performance VRS brand in the UK, and also surely marks the final burial of Skoda jokes. Out here in the US our UK-plated Skodas are attracting admiring glances, together with interest as to when they will be sold over here; Skoda in the US at least starts with an entirely clean sheet from a branding perspective.
There are no plans to bring the Czech brand to America, but as the US market increasingly accepts the type of smaller, sensible family cars that Skoda specialises in, it must surely remain a possibility.