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Review

Green With Envy (Skoda Fabia vRS Estate long term test month one) car review

21/05/12

IT’S VERY green, isn’t it? I figured that, if you’re going to run something a little left field like Skoda’s Fabia vRS for six months, you might as well go for broke in the colour department. And yes, I did choose the metallic green paint and black wheel combo myself. That it’s already been christened ‘Kermit’ by friends and family is proof that it’s succeeded in making an early impression.

Skoda’s Fabia has rightly earned the reputation of being a dependable and rewarding ownership proposition. As the racy cousin of the family, the hot vRS model enjoys cult status. It’s easy to see why: supermini dimensions and under-the-radar looks combined with a punchy engine has resulted in seriously brisk performance without the usual ‘look at me’ GTI baggage.

The second-generation car you see here has swapped the diesel motor of the first-gen car for petrol power and gained a standard fit semi-auto DSG gearbox. And not any old engine, either. Plundering the Volkswagen parts bin has resulted in Skoda’s engineers securing the group’s potent 1.4-litre TSI motor – that’s turbo and supercharged to you and me. Oh, and the small matter of 178bhp and 184lb/ft torque. The logic behind the high-tech motor is that supercharging ensures plenty of low-end thrust and the turbo adds a big push at the top end of the rev range. The numbers speak for themselves: 140mph max speed, 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds.

And the first few hundred miles have demonstrated exactly that; there’s no 80s style peaky, rev-happy behaviour here, only a smooth and elastic power delivery from the engine. It’s quiet at sensible urban speeds yet sounds suitable gruff and purposeful once you’ve piled on the revs. Certainly, the potential to upset a few conventional warm hatchbacks is there, helped by the fast gear changes of the DSG gearbox. This ‘box is already making a strong case for ditching that third pedal for good in future cars.

But enough about the performance as I’ve also got to live with the Fabia VRS, which meant making a few smart choices in the equipment department.

First up you’ll notice that this Fabia vRS is the lesser-spotted wagon – talk about a niche within a niche. I like quick cars, but I also like quick cars with a purpose. Hence why I opted for the estate variant, which should offer a good balance of thrills and practicality. Load space is 480 litres and 1,460 litres for the rear seats up and down respectively, plus there’s an under floor compartment and the boot floor doubles as a handy divider to stop items rolling around.

And to make life that bit more bearable I’ve added a few choice extras to the car’s reasonable standard kit list, namely a Bluetooth phone connection, an Apple-flavoured cable for the car’s MP3 media connector and rear parking sensors. I know, it’s a small car but car parks show no mercy these days when it comes to those hidden posts and abandoned supermarket trolleys. Oh, and the car’s nifty-looking dark coloured wheels and that sparkly green paint isn’t free either but I hope you’ll agree it was (Skoda’s) money well spent.

So far so good. By some miracle I’ve managed to find the sweet spot of standard and optional kit, although the Mini-esque black roof option was tempting, and the Fabia wagon swallows the weekly supermarket shop with ease. It’s also attracting more than it’s fair share of hopefully positive attention on the road thanks to its vibrant green exterior, and now that it’s been sympathetically run in it’s proving to be something of a dark horse on cross-country blasts - overtaking slower traffic is so easy that the novelty has yet to wear off. That DSG gearbox is way faster than I’ll ever be, allowing me to indicate, point and squirt my way around Mr Farmer and his tractor.

As for the next six months, I like nothing better than to trek across muddy forest tracks to get sprayed with mud and stones from Mk2 Escorts and old Porsches driven very sideways, so it’s no accident that the Fabia was chosen with Skoda’s trademark rally-centric green colour scheme.

Yes, I like rallying, so the Fabia will be dragged along for the ride even it will only be spectating. That, combined with all the travel for work, will mean racking up a few miles. Will the car’s sports seats do their job and, crucially, will the 1.4 motor deliver sensible fuel economy? I’m about to find out.

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.

  • Enginespetrol
  • Power4 (higher than average performance)
  • 0-60 mph
  • Economy3 (average fuel economy)
  • CO2g/km
  • Insurance groups3 (average costs)
  • Airbags
  • Seats5

Motors.co.uk value verdict:    stars

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