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Skoda sticks with its diesel hot hatch philosophy. Image by Syd Wall.

Skoda sticks with its diesel hot hatch philosophy
When Skoda first applied the vRS tag to the Fabia, it decided it should be a diesel.

 



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#02# Launched back in 2003, the Skoda Fabia vRS was the first of the diesel hot hatchbacks as well as the first application of the vRS moniker to a Fabia. The idea is simple enough; instead of a peaky, high-revving petrol engine, substitute a torquey diesel unit but leave in the better brakes, better suspension, better trim, etc. of the petrol equivalent. So simple one might wonder why it took so long for it to happen.

In the case of the Skoda Fabia vRS, the 1.9-litre 16-valve turbocharged diesel engine develops 130bhp (not so long ago that was enough for a petrol hot hatch), but more importantly develops 229lb.ft of torque at just 1900rpm. Couple this to a six-speed gearbox with ratios stacked close enough to leave this engine firmly in the torque band at every gearchange, and the recipe is there for very quick progress with little real effort. And that is just how it stacks up on the road. In any gear, even the tall sixth ratio, once you have at least 1700rpm showing on the tacho, a flick of the right ankle is all that is required to propel the Fabia vRS towards the horizon at a rapid rate of knots. Such is the instant shove that it feels even quicker than it is on paper.

Skoda didn't go overboard on the exterior. The Fabia looks quite chunky in its lesser versions, while the 16-inch alloy wheels, roof spoiler and body coloured bumpers enhance the chunky, purposeful look of the vRS, without screaming "boy racer", even in the full-on yellow colour of our car. This is the hot hatch for the more mature driver. Inside the Skoda, sports seats in two-tone cloth look very supportive and indeed they were. I was more disappointed that they also looked a little cheap, and in the case of the rear seats, felt a little cheap and flimsy when folding then down. But no problems with the comfort at all.

At an on-the-road price of just £12,375, you get a lot of car for your money. The Skoda Fabia range seems to compete on price with cars that are a size smaller than it is. Yet the standard equipment list is not sparse; there is dual-zone climate control (which includes cooling the glovebox and drinks compartment), CD-tuner with eight speakers, electric front and rear windows and electric heated door mirrors. The Fabia is a full five-seater too, with three-point seat belts in the rear for all three occupants, where many small cars now make do with two, or have a centre lap belt only. #p##02# Driving the Skoda Fabia vRS was an enjoyable experience. As mentioned earlier, instant acceleration is available from very low revs; it is better to change up early rather than hang on for the red line so as to be right in the big torque part of the engine's capabilities in the next gear. The shove is addictive. As with most diesel cars, quoting the 0-62mph figure (9.5 seconds) doesn't portray the car's real-world performance. The top speed of 128mph gives more of a clue. Thankfully as I stated at the top of this review, the concept of the diesel hot hatchback means you get the hot hatchback brakes and suspension. That means you can safely use all this real-world performance wherever conditions allow in the knowledge that you can stop and you will get round the next corner!

Indeed, not only will you get round the next corner, you'll get round it rather quickly too. The Fabia vRS runs on 205/45 R16 tyres and grips like a limpet. Roll is almost completely absent, the trade off being a firm ride, and despite all that torque, front wheel torque steer is well controlled too. There is just enough to remind you this is a front-wheel drive car, but not enough to make the Fabia vRS wayward in any way.

Where the Fabia vRS fell down for me was on refinement. I could live with the cheap looking seats because they were supremely comfortable and supportive when cornering hard, but the Fabia seems to suffer from inordinate road noise, something which troubles pretty well every VW Group car I've driven bar the Touareg and Phaeton. By 50mph, road noise is the dominant sound and remains so up to fairly high speed when wind noise finally drowns it out. If you never drive anything else, you probably get used to it fairly quickly, but most cars I drive are quieter.

Where the Fabia does score highly is of course fuel economy. There would be little point in its existence if fuel economy was not reason in itself to buy the diesel engine option. A Combined Cycle fuel consumption figure of 52.3mpg seems entirely attainable in my experience. Using all the performance nearly all the time still recorded over 50mpg during my time with the Skoda, while more restraint or a lot of long motorway journeys may well return figures approaching the official extra urban figure of 62.8mpg. And all from a car capable of embarrassing anything but the hardest driven warm petrol hatchbacks down your favourite twisty road.

Just don't overdo the options; our test car arrived with satnav, cruise control, a 6-CD autochanger, Xenon lights and ESP, which added 25% to the list price! #p##03#
Skoda hatchback UK range overview

- Skoda Fabia Classic 1.2 HTP 54bhp : £7,570
- Skoda Fabia Classic 1.2 12V 64bhp : £8,225
- Skoda Fabia Classic 1.4 16V 75bhp Auto: £10,190
- Skoda Fabia Classic 1.4 TDI PD 70bhp : £9,575
- Skoda Fabia Classic 1.4 TDI PD 80bhp: £9,990
- Skoda Fabia Ambiente 1.2 12V 64bhp : £8,735
- Skoda Fabia Ambiente 1.4 16V 75bhp Auto : £10,700
- Skoda Fabia Ambiente 1.4 16V 100bhp : £9,980
- Skoda Fabia Ambiente 1.4 TDI PD 70bhp: £10,085
- Skoda Fabia Ambiente 1.4 TDI PD 80bhp : £10,500
- Skoda Fabia Ambiente 1.9 TDI PD 100bhp : £11,125
- Skoda Fabia Elegance 1.4 16V 75bhp Auto: £11,470
- Skoda Fabia Elegance 1.4 16V 100bhp : £10,750
- Skoda Fabia Elegance 1.9 TDI PD 100bhp : £11,895
- Skoda Fabia Sport 1.2 12V 64bhp : £8,985
- Skoda Fabia vRS 1.9TDI PD 130bhp : £12,375

Trevor Nicosia - 9 Nov 2006









  www.skoda.co.uk    - Skoda road tests
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- Fabia vRS images

2006 Skoda Fabia vRS specifications:
Price: £12,375 on-the-road.
0-62mph: 9.5 seconds
Top speed: 128mph
Combined economy: 52.3mpg
Emissions: 146g/km
Kerb weight: 1315kg

Full technical specifications

2006 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Syd Wall.2006 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Syd Wall.2006 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Syd Wall.2006 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Syd Wall.2006 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Syd Wall.

2006 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Syd Wall.2006 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Syd Wall.2006 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Syd Wall.2006 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Syd Wall.2006 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Syd Wall.



2006 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Syd Wall.
 

2006 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Syd Wall.
 

2006 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Syd Wall.
 

2006 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Syd Wall.
 

2006 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Syd Wall.
 

2006 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Syd Wall.
 

2006 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Syd Wall.
 






 

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