The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.8
The Skoda Fabia vRS is as subtle as hot hatches get. It's very quick and the build quality is top notch.
Reasons to buy
- Big performance, low running costs
- Good value for money
- Great to drive at all times
At a glance
- How good does it look? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's the interior like? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How practical is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's it like to drive? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How powerful is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much will it cost me? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How reliable is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How safe is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much equipment do I get? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Why buy? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
How good does it look?
If badge snobbery and flashiness is your thing then there’s nothing for you here. The Skoda Fabia vRS is an off-the-radar kind of performance car, as you have to know what you’re looking for to distinguish it from a normal model. The 17-inch alloy wheels, vRS badges, chromed exhaust pipe, red brake callipers and smattering of body kit separate the vRS from a standard Fabia, but you have to look very closely indeed.
What's the interior like?
Inside, it’s pretty much stock Skoda Fabia. That’s no bad thing in the sense that the interior is of good quality and built to last. It could do with a little more excitement though, seeing as it’s the cabin of a hot hatchback. Everything is quite dark and plain, while the only things to suggest that there’s anything special about the Fabia from the inside are the hip-hugging seats with vRS logos, custom kick plates, aluminium pedals and a small silver logo on the bottom of the steering wheel.
How practical is it?
When compared to the SEAT Ibiza Cupra and the Volkswagen Polo GTI with which it shares its underpinnings, the Skoda is the clear winner. It has the most boot space of the three at 300 litres and there’s also a handy little separating area in the boot, which is useful for keeping bags upright. Five adults will easily fit in the car, but the one in the middle of the rear will find things a little cramped on a journey of any length.
What's it like to drive?
There’s plenty of grip thanks to the Skoda’s clever electronic differential, which helps to put the power down when exiting corners. The ride is firm but not to the point of being uncomfortable and the steering is responsive. The vRS is good fun but it’s not as entertaining as established hot hatches like the Renaultsport Clio. Its tall sides also mean that there’s a little more body roll than usual – not loads, but more than you might expect from a hot hatch.
How powerful is it?
It might only have a 1.4-litre engine, but the Fabia has a turbocharger and a supercharger, so there’s plenty of power available. Expect 178bhp, a 0-62mph time of 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 139mph. There’s no lack of pulling-power in any gear and the gearbox itself is very smooth. It’s the Volkswagen Group’s seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox, which is very sedate when cruising, but switch it into sport mode and it hangs on to the gears for longer. Alternative;y you can change gear manually via either the gear selector or steering wheel-mounted paddles.
How much will it cost me?
For a hot hatch, the Fabia has pleasingly low running costs. It offers an average of 45.6mpg and has emissions of 139g/km, which puts it in VED band E. Insurance group 27 is about average for a hot hatch, but the extra performance means that you’ll pay more than you would with a more sedate hatchback.
How reliable is it?
The Fabia was voted as the fifth most reliable hatchback in the 2010 JD Power survey, which isn’t bad going and it has a fine reputation for reliability and build quality elsewhere. It finished 37th overall in the survey.
How safe is it?
Front, side and curtain airbags are standard, as is stability control. Anti-lock brakes, stability control, hill hold and tyre pressure warning sensors are also part of the package. The Fabia scored four stars for adult occupant protection in the EuroNCAP crash tests, which isn’t bad, but many rivals can better it with five.
How much equipment do I get?
There is only one trim level, but the vRS has plenty of standard equipment. Electric front windows, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, an MP3 compatible stereo, electric heated wing mirrors, air-con and tinted windows are all standard. Skoda also offers bigger wheels and contrasting roof colours to owners who want to customise their car.
Skoda’s Fabia vRS is fun to drive but sensible and economical enough to live with every day. It isn’t the most exciting of hot hatches but it’s certainly one of the most understated and a great all-rounder.