This Polo is ab­so­lutely fab­u­lous

Skoda’s cousin is a ri­val for VW’s hot hatch

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive - NEIL DOWL­ING neil.dowl­ing@cars­

A FIERY Czech, with links to Volk­swa­gen’s top-rated Polo GTI, is join­ing Skoda’s small­car in­va­sion.

The Fabia RS shares the Polo’s un­der­pin­nings and the maker aims to broaden its ap­peal with hatch and wagon ver­sions. A fresh face in Aus­tralia, the 132kW RS is due in Fe­bru­ary. Like the Polo GTI, it will be avail­able only with the slick dual-clutch trans­mis­sion. In Septem­ber, how­ever, Skoda is bring­ing in cheaper, 77kW ver­sions of the Fabia: the base hatch for about $18,000 and a spe­cial edi­tion RS-looka­like Monte Carlo for about $22,000.

VALUE Skoda Aus­tralia claims its mod­els will be up to 10 per cent cheaper than the Volk­swa­gen coun­ter­parts. Given the Polo GTI’s $28,990 base price, the Fabia RS five-door hatch could hit Aus­tralian show­rooms for $26,000, and less than $28,000 for the roomier wagon.

That’s good buy­ing for a four-seater that goes like stink and looks the part. It may be a GTI un­der the skin, which those in the know will ap­pre­ci­ate, but long-term the ques­tion re­mains whether the near-iden­ti­cal Polo will re­tain higher value. Re­gard­less, the Fabia has all the fea­tures and is a great drive for the price.

DE­SIGN Skoda claims an edge in de­liv­er­ing the RS in two body styles. The wagon, with its ex­tra cargo space, will mix it in the wild world of fam­ily du­ties quite well. The wagon also looks less blunt in styling. The wheel­base is the same as the hatch but ex­tra length at the rear deftly smooths out the shape of the tail.

In­side, cabin treat­ment is very good, al­though the hard plas­tic dash top daz­zles in

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