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Week at the Wheel: Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Max Earey.

Week at the Wheel: Skoda Fabia vRS
Skoda's Fabia hot hatch was revived in petrol form earlier this year, but is it as good as the old turbodiesel version?

 



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| Week at the Wheel | Skoda Fabia vRS |

Inside & Out: star star star star star

Subtle is the name of the game for the Fabia vRS. The original turbodiesel model was equally innocuous and it's good to see that the new version hasn't gone all flashy. There are a few telltale signs that this model has some extra power, namely the 17-inch alloy wheels, vRS badges, chromed exhaust pipe and restrained rear diffuser. Even so, you could be forgiven for walking past it in a car park without giving it a second glance, which is part of the appeal.

Inside it's even more run-of-the-mill. The interior is pretty much stock Fabia, save for some hip-hugging seats embossed with the vRS logo, a small silver emblem on the bottom of the steering wheel and custom kick plates. We've no complaints, as the Skoda is exceptionally well built, but just a smidgen more pizzazz wouldn't go amiss.

Engine & Transmission: star star star star star

This generation of vRS has ditched diesel in favour of the Volkswagen Group's 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine with 180bhp, a turbocharger and a supercharger to cancel out any turbo lag. It's very rapid for a hatchback with a small displacement - you're looking at 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds and 139mph flat out.

The most impressive thing about it is the slug of torque that's available in almost any gear. The official figure is 184lb.ft but, to be honest, it feels like more. Even if you're meandering along at low speeds, the Skoda rockets off with no hesitation when you put your foot down. Unless you're in Sport mode and already have the revs up, it takes the seven-speed DSG gearbox a second to wake up, but otherwise the Fabia is seriously swift.

We can't help thinking that a short-throw, manual gearbox would be more fun, but the DSG does its job well and it's better than the vast majority of semi-automatic gearboxes out there. You just don't feel quite as in control as you'd like to be when it's swapping cogs for you.

Ride & Handling: star star star star star

There's plenty of grip, mainly thanks to the XDS electronic 'differential', which keeps things in check. However, the Fabia's set-up isn't so protective that it prevents you from having fun. It's very chuck-able and compliant, though the steering lacks a little in feel.

The suspension is 15mm lower than that of the standard car, but at no point does the Skoda feel uncomfortable. Unlike the majority of rock hard hot hatches, the Fabia really is comfy when you want it to be and it handles well at the same time.

The only downside is the body roll, which is more obvious in the Skoda than it is in rivals like the SEAT Ibiza Bocanegra, which is an almost identical car beneath the skin. The tall dimensions of the vRS mean that it lollops about a bit, but never frighteningly so.

Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: star star star star star

At 15,700, the vRS is significantly cheaper than the aforementioned SEAT and, not surprisingly, about 3,000 cheaper than the Volkswagen Polo GTI, which is also very similar underneath.

Fuel economy is officially 45.6mpg, but don't expect to see that if you're driving it hard. In mixed conditions - including a bit of spirited driving - the trip readout on our test car hovered around the mid to late 30s, which isn't bad.

Standard kit includes ESP, air conditioning and a tyre pressure monitor, as well as the mild body kit, alloy wheels and lowered suspension. In short, it's one of the best value hot hatches there is.

Overall: star star star star star

As a sensible and practical hot hatch that you really can use every day the vRS is tough to beat - not least because of its diminutive list price. At 300 litres, the Skoda also has a larger boot than the SEAT and the VW alternatives, so it's the more practical choice, as well as the cheapest.

It's worth remembering that Skoda dealers have a top notch reputation for customer service and the company's reliability record is excellent. The vRS isn't the most entertaining hot hatch around, but as a package and ownership prospect, it's excellent. The understated appearance gives it real Q-car status, too.

Jack Carfrae - 28 Jul 2010









  www.skoda.co.uk    - Skoda road tests
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2010 Skoda Fabia vRS specifications:
Price: 15,700 on-the-road
0-62mph: 7.3 seconds
Top speed: 139mph
Combined economy: 45.6mpg
Emissions: 148g/km
Kerb weight: 1318kg

Full technical specifications

2010 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Max Earey.2010 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Max Earey.2010 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Max Earey.2010 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Max Earey.2010 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Max Earey.

2010 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Max Earey.2010 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Max Earey.2010 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Max Earey.2010 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Max Earey.2010 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Max Earey.



2010 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Max Earey.
 

2010 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Max Earey.
 

2010 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Max Earey.
 

2010 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Max Earey.
 

2010 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Max Earey.
 

2010 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Max Earey.
 

2010 Skoda Fabia vRS. Image by Max Earey.
 






 

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