Monday, 20 February 2012


Words and Photos by Rob McSorley

What is it?

Library image

The Fabia is Skoda’s successful supermini and the vRS is the most potent model in the lineup. The second generation Fabia vRS trades its muscular 1.9 Tdi engine for a bang up-to-date 180bhp 1.4 turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine that is also found in its VW and Seat cousins. It also shares the cutting edge 7 speed DSG gearbox - an automatic with race-inspired paddle shift gear changers behind the steering wheel. The Fabia range has always offered superb value for money and the vRS does not disappoint with a starting price of £16,415 undercutting the mechanically identical Polo GTi by nearly £3000 without any shortage of standard equipment. Interestingly the Fabia vRS is also available as a spacious estate which loses none of the sporting features.

Rivals; Renaultsport Clio, Citroen DS3 Racing, Vauxhall Corsa VXR, MINI Cooper S

Technical Data

Price as tested: £18,315
Engine: 1.4 16v 180bhp - 0-62mph: 7.3 secs - Maximum Speed: 139mph -
Economy: 36.7mpg (urban) –54.3mpg (extra-urban), 45.6mpg (combined) - Emissions: 148g/km (Band F) - VED (12 months): £130
Dimensions: Length: 4000mm - Width: 1642mm - Height: 1498mm - Wheelbase: 2465mm

*data from Skoda UK

Key Features

• 3-spoke multi-function leather sports steering wheel with paddles
• Leather gearknob and hand brake
• LED daylight running lights
• Maxi-dot trip computer
• Satelite Navigation with Bluetooth
• Red brake callipers
• Sports suspension
• Steel sports pedals
• Sunset glass (from the B-pillar back)
• vRS bodykit and sports seats with logo

The Design

          With the Fabia Skoda have played it safe with the styling avoiding any daring flourishes that you will find on a Seat Ibiza or Citroen DS3 but that isn’t to say it’s a dull or unattractive car, especially in the youthful Rallye metallic green of our test car. At the front Skoda’s large trademark grill is present with prominent Skoda badge and smoothly styled Xenon headlights wrap nicely around the curved front end. Where the vRS differs from lower spec cars in the range is with a more aggressively styled lower bumper with larger meshed air intakes housing the fog lights and a more angular front splitter. Large 17” Gigaro alloy wheels and a lowered ride height help hide the Fabia’s boxy proportions and the floating roof effect given by the blacked out a-pillars and optional white roof finish are a nod at its MINI rival by giving the the Fabia an injection of character. Around the rear a descreet boot spoiler and sporty twin exhausts housed in the aerodynamic bumper valance finish off the design nicely.
          The cabin will be familiar to standard Fabia owners with its functional design and tactile build quality. Everything falls nicely to hand and is solidly screwed together although the choice of materials used cannot hide the Fabia’s more budget roots with an abundance of hard plastic where rivals offer soft touch materials. Our test car however came with a touch screen audio-navigation system which is an excellent optional extra and helps lift the otherwise plain looking centre console. The seats are attractively trimmed with vRS stitched on each and are nicely bucketed offering excellent support and the well shaped 3 spoke steering wheel helps as a reminder that you are in a sporty car. The driving position is highly adjustable with rake and reach steering adjustment and plenty of adjustment in the drivers seat. Forward visibility is also commendable helped by large door mirrors and thin a-pillars but rear visibility could be better not helped by the chunky c-pillar and small rear window. Passenger space all round is excellent and easily on par with the class best helped by the boxy dimensions and the boot is respectable at 300 litres.

The Drive 

          On paper the vRS boasts a pretty eye watering 180bhp and 250nM as of torque and with a kerbweight of only 1243kg acceleration is brisk boasting a 0-60mph time of just 7.3 seconds. Due to the cutting edge technology that the engine employs fuel economy is outstanding at 45mpg combined and the vRS falls into a respectable road tax band F. Turn the key and you are greeted with a satisfying grumble, slide the gear shift into D and with a small amount of throttle the Fabia moves off smoothly. Unlike most automatics the Volkwagon Groups DSG box changes gear in just 8 milliseconds, it’s hardly noticeable which makes the power delivered super smooth and with 7 forward gears its never confused by sudden inclines or stop start traffic. Drivers can opt for a sport setting which holds on to the gears for longer but this tends to make the engine sound strained all too often. The steering mounted paddles however add a new dimension to gear changes giving the driver more control but for most letting the gearbox go about its business will be the preferred option. On the open road the performance of vRS is instantly evident, a sharp prod of the accelerator enables you to make full use of the power on offer, acceleration is breathtaking with no flat-spots or turbo-lag meaning that particular attention must be paid to the speed limits. On the move refinement is relatively good with engine noise kept to a minimum; wind noise is also well suppressed. Riding on 17” alloys with lowered stiffened suspension the cars ride is very firm but forgiving and it could never be described as harsh, especially compared to some of its piers. Only on the worst road surfaces particularly around town does the ride really suffer feeling overly fidgety. On the plus side the taut setup does wonders for the Fabias handling, body roll is almost non existent, grip is plentiful and the steering is well weighed and has adequate levels of feedback. Its on twisting country roads that the Fabia really comes alive changing direction with real verve and enabling the driver to really use the power and feel the road, smiles are guaranteed. 

The Verdict 

The Fabia vRS is a real gem with a tantalising blend of performance, economy and value for money. It not only proves how far hot hatches have come in the last decade but also how successful Skoda’s foray into this lucrative segment has been. The vRS really gives it rivals a run for their money with its superb, cutting edge powertrain, sorted road manners and day-to-day usability. Overall the vRS is a highly commendable hot hatch offering genuine value for money.

Special Thanks to; Skoda UK,Delaware Drive, Blakelands, Milton Keynes, MK14 5AN

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