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Can a Skoda match posh German cars?

Car lovers often feel they have a compromise to make – do you go for the sensible option, or splash out on a car built for speed? Skoda aims to provide the answer with the fast, economical Skoda Octavia vRS. But how does it stack up against the premium German performance crowd?

In our latest round of tests, we’ve put a range of performance cars through their paces. As well as the Skoda, we have the luxurious Mercedes GLC Coupe, the fastback-roof version of the Mercedes-Benz GLC medium-size SUV. If your tastes run to the more sophisticated, then the svelte, cosseting coupe version of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class might tempt you, not to mention 2016’s E-Class Estate.

Both are hugely expensive when fully loaded with optional extras. Meanwhile, BMW aims to help out your bank balance with a cheaper alternative – more comparable in price to the Skoda. Launched in 2016, the BMW M240i Coupe has a powerful 340hp engine and a chassis very much tuned for sporty driving.

For the more budget-conscious, we’ve also updated our test of the Mazda 3. It’s a medium-hatchback rival to the VW Golf and Ford Focus, but with a much more sporty driving character. So which is our expert pick?

Want to head straight to the best cars uncovered by our independent tests? See our top cars for 2018[1].

Skoda Octavia vRS Estate (2013-)

The vRS version of the Skoda Octavia Estate[2] aims to give the best of both worlds in one vehicle. It’s a high-performance car that’s also designed to be great choice for families.

It’s sensible enough to have plenty of room (for both passengers and luggage) and avoid the wrong kind of stares on the school run, but also packs a punch when you’re looking to have bit of fun. There’s plenty of power, too, with one engine option being a 184 horsepower diesel. If you switch to Sport mode, the engine sounds louder in the cabin, for a fun trip back after dropping off the kids.

With its starting price of GBP26,885, you could make a seemingly huge saving by opting for the Skoda Octavia vRS Estate over the upmarket alternatives below. Is this finally the way to persuade yourself you need to get a performance car? Find out in our Skoda Octavia vRS Estate[3] review.

Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe (2015-)

This fastback-roof version of Mercedes-Benz’s GLC medium-size SUV[4] combines rugged 4×4 underpinnings with coupe-like styling – but is it really possible to be both an SUV[5] and a sports car[6]?

This Mercedes[7] is also designed to be a very usable family car. Despite its sporty looks, the emphasis is on comfort rather than racy driving. The GLC Coupe is available with a choice of two 2.1-litre diesel engines with 170hp and 204hp respectively, and a 3.0-litre diesel with 258hp.

Two very high-powered petrol engines are also available, one with 367hp and another with 476hp or 510hp. All versions have a nine-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive. However, at GBP39,064, this is not a cheap car.

Plus much of the nicest equipment will cost you extra. In fact, it will cost you a lot extra, making the GLC Coupe rather expensive. With slightly less space than the regular Mercedes GLC, which impacts on practicality, is it really worth it?

We reveal whether the price is worth paying in our Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe[8] review.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe (2017-)

Sleek and refined, the Mercedes E-Class Coupe blends great luxury and comfort with a feeling of quality throughout. We’ve tested the E400 4Matic, which has a powerful 333 horsepower six-cylinder petrol V6 engine with two turbochargers. But with the E-Class Coupe not being as focused on driving enjoyment as some of its rivals, does it manage a great-performance drive, while being smooth and discreet enough to be a practical choice?

And does spending 10 grand more than the price of the Skoda Octavia vRS really get you that much extra? We reveal whether the cost of GBP36,487, plus expensive options, really makes a difference in our Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe review[9].

BMW M240i Coupe (2017-)

One of the hottest members of BMW’s 2 Series family, the BMW M240i Coupe is designed to give a performance-focused ride at a comparable price to the Skoda Octavia vRS Estate. With the BMW[10] having a powerful 340hp engine and a chassis designed for sporty driving, is this the choice for the more adventurous, and could it really be practical?

If you’ve been secretly looking at BMW’s M2, the sportiest in the BMW’s 2 Series Coupe[11] and 2 Series Convertible[12] range, is this a more sensible alternative with super-sharp driving dynamics, or a challenging animal to tame? We give you our verdict in our BMW M240i Coupe review[13].

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate (2016-)

Looking for a more practical performance Merc? The Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate aims for a healthy balance of boot space, luxury and technology, all wrapped up in a highly opulent package.

Since the mid-1990s, the E-Class has been Mercedes-Benz’s most popular luxury car. It’s available not only as an estate car, but also as a saloon (reviewed separately – Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate saloon[14]). It’s up against competitors including the Audi A6 Avant[15], BMW 5 Series Touring[16], Volvo V90[17] and Jaguar XF Sportbrake.[18] And now the very reasonably priced Skoda Octavia vRS Estate, too.

Is this an all-rounder, combining practicality with luxury, as well as agility and refined driving as well? Brought alive by expensive luxury options, we reveal whether the cost is worth it in our Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate review[19].

Mazda 3 (2013-)

If your bank balance is insisting you have to downgrade your performance-car ambitions, maybe the Mazda 3 will fit the bill. It’s got bolder looks and a sportier driving character than medium-sized hatchback rivals, such as the Volkswagen Golf[20] and Ford Focus[21].

The Mazda 3 should also impress in terms of fuel economy and spaciousness, so perhaps this is just the ticket. Compared with the previous-generation model, it’s wider and rides lower. Although most of its competitors have moved to small turbocharged petrol engines or hybrid powertrains, Mazda[22] is staying with larger petrol units.

Instead, it’s driving through efficiency with a hi-tech, lightweight design philosophy.

An update in 2016 also sharpened up the driving, so perhaps you can get a fun drive without even opting for a performance car.

We reveal whether this is the most fun-to-drive hatchback in our Mazda 3[23] review.


  1. ^ top cars for 2018 (
  2. ^ Skoda Octavia Estate (
  3. ^ Skoda Octavia vRS Estate (
  4. ^ Mercedes-Benz’s GLC medium-size SUV (
  5. ^ SUV (
  6. ^ sports car (
  7. ^ Mercedes (
  8. ^ Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe (
  9. ^ Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe review (
  10. ^ BMW (
  11. ^ BMW’s 2 Series Coupe (
  12. ^ 2 Series Convertible (
  13. ^ BMW M240i Coupe review (
  14. ^ Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate saloon (
  15. ^ Audi A6 Avant (
  16. ^ BMW 5 Series Touring (
  17. ^ Volvo V90 (
  18. ^ Jaguar XF Sportbrake. (
  19. ^ Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate review (
  20. ^ Volkswagen Golf (
  21. ^ Ford Focus (
  22. ^ Mazda (
  23. ^ Mazda 3 (

Fiesta vs Polo: Clash of the mini titans – which one is a Best Buy?

Fighting it out in our tough car tests we have the biggest battle of the year so far, with all-new versions of top-selling small hatchbacks the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo going head to head. The new Citroen C3 is getting in on the action, too. And that’s not all.

We also go upmarket with premium models from BMW and Audi, including the popular BMW 5-series Touring, performance Audi TT RS, and two versions of the Audi A5, the Cabriolet and five-door Sportback. But which one of these excelled and triumphed over its rivals? We put each through their paces in our unremitting try-outs, to see if they’re practical, safe, fully featured and have the endurance to see you through.

But are there any surprises in store? See which were victorious through the links below. Looking to jump straight to full results?

Check out our top cars for 2018[1].

Ford Fiesta

The Fiesta has dominated the small hatchback market for years, and Ford[2] claims the seventh-generation Fiesta is the most technologically advanced small car around. It has lots of trim levels, ranging from the entry-level Style to indulgent Titanium X, and also the performance Fiesta ST-Line with sports seats and sports suspension. There’s even a Vignale special version with a luxury interior, including extended leather upholstery and a panoramic sunroof.

Ford’s famed Ecoboost engines are here as well – with six petrol or diesel engines to choose from – which should provide a pleasing blend of power and fuel economy. But with all the changes, is it still fun to drive, and does it have sufficient room compared with its rivals? See whether Ford has maintained its winning formula and kept ahead of the competition in our Ford Fiesta review[3].

VW Polo

Biting at the Fiesta’s heels is the Volkswagen Polo, the latest in the long-standing model line that’s been around since 1975 and is now in its sixth generation.

It’s the largest Polo ever, now even bigger than the 2003 VW Golf. With VW claiming it has a generous cabin and boot, it has a spaciousness to potentially threaten the Fiesta, which risks feeling cramped in comparison. Our tests reveal the truth.

The new Polo comes with cutting-edge tech too. All models come with an 8-inch touchscreen, air conditioning, ‘front assist’ with pedestrian monitoring and LED daytime running lights. Upgrade to the SE model and you get alloy wheels, more connectivity and a leather multi-function steering wheel.

There’s even a ‘Beats’ model with a Beats By Dr Dre-branded sound system installed. Other versions to consider include the SEL model, which adds sat nav, climate control and parking sensors, while the R-line brings sporty body upgrades and other racy design flourishes. Volkswagen seems to be going the extra mile with the Polo.

Does its practicality now finally give it the edge it needs to leapfrog the Ford Fiesta? Find out in our VW Polo review[4].

Citroen C3

A five-door hatchback for those looking for something different, the Citroen C3’s funky styling allows for you to add your own personal touch, with a wide array of customisation options. There are contrasting roof colours to choose from, as well as full exterior colour packs and a variety of optional interior trims to boot.

The C3 comes in three spec levels: Touch, Feel and Flair. The entry-level Touch model comes well-equipped with a DAB radio, cruise control, speed limit recognition and a lane-departure warning system. You get an upgraded stereo with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in the ‘Feel’ models, as well as a 7-inch touchscreen, automatic climate control, alloy wheels and a two-tone roof.

The Flair option includes a built-in dash-cam, reversing camera, parking sensors, a leather steering wheel and ‘Airbump’ side protection fitted to the front and rear doors. Is this the small hatchback to go for if you want to boldly stand out from the crowd? Find out how it fared in our extensive workout by reading our Citroen C3[5] review.

Also check out the raised-height SUV version in our C3 Aircross review[6].

BMW 5-Series Touring

The estate version of BMW[7]‘s latest-generation luxury model and the largest estate it makes, the BMW 5 Series Touring has more luggage space and even better fuel economy than ever, according to BMW. Competing against the Jaguar XF Sportbrake, Audi A6 Avant[8], Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate and Volvo V90[9], it shares its mechanical underpinnings with the 5 Series saloon[10]. As with all models in the range, it comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard.

A wide choice of engines is available, including petrols and diesels in both four and six-cylinder versions. Unlike the BMW 5-Series saloon[11], there’s no plug-in hybrid variant. As you’d expect, there’s plenty of space for luggage and people.

You have the option to choose all-wheel drive on some versions, as well as ‘active’ four-wheel steering. But can such a large, premium car really have such great fuel efficiency as BMW claims, and can something so large really be fun to drive? We reveal whether this is your next dream car in our BMW 5-Series Touring review[12].

Audi A5 Cabriolet

Combining elegance and luxury with the dynamics of a sports car, the Audi A5 Cabriolet is the two-door convertible version of the Audi A5 large car.

Now in its second-generation, it has an elegant fabric roof for open-top motoring, and rivals the BMW 4 Series Convertible[13] and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet. It is one of three versions of the Audi A4[14]-based A5 model, alongside the three-door Coupe[15] and five-door Sportback. Front-wheel drive comes as standard, and there’s also the option of ‘Quattro’ four-wheel drive, which is included standard on the 3.0 TDI 286hp model.

Audi is known for its finely crafted convertibles and stylish cabins. On a less positive note, it’s also known for its recent Audi recall[16]. Recall aside, could this be the perfect mix of convertible luxury, fun driving and practicality?

We give our verdict in our comprehensive Audi A5 Cabriolet review[17]. If you’re looking for a bit more performance from the car, check out our review of the pricier five-door Audi S5 Sportback[18].

Audi TT RS

The very top of the Audi TT range, the TTRS is the high-performance version of the regular hard-top TT sports car, retaining the same 2+2 seating layout. A product of the Audi Sport division, it abandons the 2.0-litre engines of the standard Audi TT RS[19] in favour of a heavily turbocharged, five-cylinder 2.5-litre petrol engine with no less than 400hp.

This power is sent to all four wheels through a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox. It’s available in both Coupe and convertible body styles, with the latter having an electrically folding cloth roof. It comes with an extensive list of top-tech to choose from, such as magnetically variable sports suspension that can be used to alter the firmness of the ride at the touch of a button, ceramic brakes and the option – for track use – to have the top speed limiter raised from 155mph to 174mph.

But is this lust for sheer power matched by it being fun and easy to drive – even for less experienced drivers?

We give it a spin in our Audi TT RS Coupe review[20].


  1. ^ top cars for 2018 (
  2. ^ Ford (
  3. ^ Ford Fiesta review (
  4. ^ VW Polo review (
  5. ^ Citroen C3 (
  6. ^ C3 Aircross review (
  7. ^ BMW (
  8. ^ Audi A6 Avant (
  9. ^ Volvo V90 (
  10. ^ 5 Series saloon (
  11. ^ BMW 5-Series saloon (
  12. ^ BMW 5-Series Touring review (
  13. ^ BMW 4 Series Convertible (
  14. ^ Audi A4 (
  15. ^ three-door Coupe (
  16. ^ Audi recall (
  17. ^ Audi A5 Cabriolet review (
  18. ^ Audi S5 Sportback (
  19. ^ Audi TT RS (
  20. ^ Audi TT RS Coupe review (

Talking Tables Floral Fiesta Floral Hanging Bunting for a Tea Party or Birthday, Multicolor – Mega Discount

Turn your party tropical with Mexicana Bunting.

  • Turn your party tropical with stylish Mexicana Bunting
  • 4 meters of paper buntings
  • Made with pink satin ribbon
  • Includes 10 flags in 5 different colours
  • More matching party accessories available from Talking Tables under the Floral Fiesta range

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