Change to petrol power does not dent vRS
Hot hatch diesel? Julie Marshall tries the latest from Skoda even if it is now a petrolhead.
I FIRST experienced the Skoda Fabia vRS at the launch of the first model in 2003 and I couldn’t believe the car I was driving was powered by diesel. So much so that I actually pulled over and checked inside the fuel cap to be sure.
It was an amazing little car and remained one of my favourites right up until it ceased production in 2007.
The new model was a long time coming. So much so that I despaired of it ever happening. My patience, however, was rewarded this year when new Fabia vRS was launched.
The turbocharged diesel engine I loved so much has been replaced by a supercharged and turbocharged 1.4 litre petrol engine and I was prepared to be disappointed by the change. Not so. It now packs 180bhp, can accelerate from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds yet still deliver 45.6 mpg so is even better. Other firsts are its mating with a sevenspeed DSG transmission and an estate version.
The silhouette of the Fabia is not typical of a hot hatch, the nose is longer and the windscreen larger but these details just serve to hide the potency of the engine in the vRS.
Bumpers that extend closer to the ground, twin exhausts and an understated spoiler give some clues as to what is to come once the key is turned.
Inside it’s very much business as usual with the trademark Fabia quality black plastics. The sporty alloy pedals, leather steering wheel and vRS badging give the game away though. The seats are comfortable and, though snug are not too restrictive and there’s plenty of headroom in the back for passengers.
Boot room is plentiful, 300 litres in the hatch, 400 litres in the estate (1,163 and 1,460 litres with the seats folded). Taking the vRS out on the road is fun, but not half as much as it is it out on the track, particularly when you’re given guidance by a professional rally driver.
The ability of this little car to stick to the road like glue even when subjected to the most extreme driving is quite incredible. Without going into too much detail, much of this is due to the XDS system, an electronically controlled slip differential which improves the handling at speed.
Turn-in is sharper and more speed can be carried through corners without understeer. While this may not be something necessary on the school run it contributes to the overall safety of the Fabia, along with a raft of other directional and stability aids. In addition, the centre of gravity has been lowered and stiffer dampers and firmer rear springs added for even greater stability.
Six airbags, hill hold control and tyre pressure monitors all come as standard.
The price of the vRS hatch is a comforting £15,700 (estate £16,495) which is cheaper than much of the competition with more equipment and power for your money.
It’s also far easier to live with. Too often these muscle cars are great on the track and if driven briskly but pottering around town or out on badly damaged country roads they’re a different matter.
The new Fabia vRS is one of the best little hot hatches around and I think we are going to get on just fine.
More: 08457 745745.
A GOER: The Skoda Fabia vRS with its 1.4 litre power plant proves a reliable performance machine.