Delaying The Inevitable (Skoda Fabia vRS Estate Long Term Test Month Five)


WHERE are all the green cars? It's a question I've often asked myself as I tolerate the weekly motorway grind. Save for the odd ray of metallic sunshine, in my time with the Fabia I've seen very few brightly coloured cars.

Thank goodness for Kermit, my bright green Fabia vRS, is all I can say. Having initially been on the receiving end of considerable criticism when I announced I'd be going for the metallic green body and black wheel combo, it's my so-called good friends whose faces have now matched the car's exterior hue. How jealous are they? Quite a lot as it seems.

Make no mistake, this particular option isn't for the faint hearted. When the car is clean it shines out like a beacon in a wet and dull supermarket car park. On a practical front that alone has, in my mind, trebled the car's value.

But we're talking aesthetics here, and there's a lot to be said for the car's distinctive black grille and smokey black headlights, which contrast perfectly with the green sheet metal. Factor in those black wheels and the Fabia vRS easily lives up to its wild on-screen persona from those memorable TV ads.

The flip side to all this praise is that you can't escape the fact that it cuts a distinctive figure on the road. Like a car with a memorable private number plate, the angel sitting on your shoulder tells you to behave as you do stand out when zipping about. And it only takes one person to remember "that funny green Skoda" and you might have some explaining to do to the boys in blue. It's the only time I'd admit to the notion that a grey car might have been a better choice.

For every other time I've got into the Fabia and stirred its gruff-sounding 1.4-litre I've never regretted going green. Not that you can see much of it when you're inside. Which is why I've recently been focused more on the Fabia's interior.

The Fabia's interior couldn't be more different to the exterior. Black is the default option here and there's a lot of it. It's a clever trick, as it does much to boost the cabin ambience: think Volkswagen Polo-lite and you're almost there. and it's all good quality stuff, too. As is the switchgear.

Having so far spent close to 10,000 miles behind the wheel, it's fair to say I know the Fabia's cabin inside out. From the right button shortcut on the trip computer to access the Bluetooth settings to how to quickly fold the rear seats, the car feels like a comfortable pair of shoes.

All of which highlights the one thing I don't like: the location of the 12v power socket. Along with the 3.5mm audio socket, the 12v power port is located down by the handbrake. Not on the fascia or underneath the ventilation controls, but where cables can get tangled and, crucially, a good distance from the windscreen if you want to use a portable sat-nav unit. As such, you have to trail a cable across the fascia, ensuring it doesn't obstruct the handbrake. And by design it's got to be a long cable, meaning it doesn't look pretty either.

To counter this there's a second power socket in the boot, which is perfect for charging Bluetooth enabled phones. Add the car's clever folding boot floor, which acts as a divider to keep shopping in one place, and you can almost forgive Skoda for this cabin faux pas. Almost.

Of course, if you know where you're going and your smart enough to have ordered the proprietary Apple music player connector you don't have to worry about this. The connector, conveniently located out of sight under the glovebox, allows access to music via the audio unit's large one line display or the multi line display between the main dials. It works and the sound quality from the standard audio unit is pretty good, although you'll need to crank up the volume to combat road noise when driving at speed.

All this talk has been one big diversion from the horrible truth that my time with the Fabia is coming to an end. The 12v power socket in the cabin might be in the wrong place, but soon there won't be a Fabia outside my house. And that's a bigger problem.

It's clear that a final month of hooning, spending too much time feeding the habit in petrol stations and generally exploiting the car's giant-slaying performance is in order before its more sensible replacement arrives. Wish me luck.

FACTS AT A GLANCE?Model: Skoda Fabia vRS Estate, from £17,840 on the road.?Engine: 1.4-litre petrol unit developing 178bhp.?Transmission: 7-speed DSG semi-auto transmission as standard, driving the front wheels.?Performance: Maximum speed 140mph, 0-62mph 7.3 seconds.?Economy: 45.6mpg.?CO2 Rating: 148g/km.


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