"The Skoda Fabia vRS offers impressive performance and handling for a great value price."
The Skoda Fabia vRS is the performance version of the Fabia. It's powered by a 178bhp 1.4 TSI engine that combines a supercharger and a turbocharger to generate ample acceleration at any speed. Only a seven-speed double-clutch automatic gearbox is offered, which helps to make seamless quick gear changes. Drivers can change gears using paddles on the steering wheel, too. Skoda does also offer a more practical estate version of the vRS, giving the Fabia range the edge over rivals like the Volkswagen Polo GTI, Ford Fiesta ST and Renaultsport Clio.
The Fabia vRS has the kind of punchy and accessible performance you really want from a hot hatch. Its 0-62mph time of 7.3 seconds feels quick, but thankfully, it's never enough to scare you. Stiffer suspension allows for more agile handling than the standard Fabia - take it through a series of fast corners and you’ll come out the other side with a smile on your face. Our only criticism would be the steering, which is accurate but it's hard for the driver to feel exactly what the wheels are doing, unlike a Renaultsport Clio.
Despite the fact the vRS is designed to be the sporty member of the Fabia family it's actually surprisingly comfortable. The suspension still manages to smooth out rough roads without the driver bobbing around too much and you can travel on motorways without too much wind or road noise. When you’re accelerating hard you can definitely hear the engine, but the exhaust has been tuned to deliver a sweet-sounding growl rather than a harsh rattle. We wish the cabin could be a little more exciting, though - there's quite a lot of bland black plastics.
The engine and suspension may be tuned for performance in the Fabia vRS but that doesn’t mean they won’t be reliable. Skoda is part of the Volkswagen Group and are well known for having some of most reliable cars on the market. The majority of parts have been used in the Polo GTI and SEAT Ibiza Cupra with very few problems, so buyers should be confident. A four star rating for crash safety is good, but the Renault Clio and Vauxhall Corsa have both scored five.
The vRS has exactly the same size boot as the rest of the Fabia line-up – 300-litres with the rear seats in place. You can lift the seat bases up and fold the rear seats forwards to create a flat load area of 1163 litres. The low lip makes it easy to load long, heavy items, too. Passengers have a fair amount of space in the back, but trying to carry tall adults will be a little uncomfortable, especially if the front passenger and driver are tall.
Value for money
In terms of the performance on offer the Fabia vRS represents fantastic value. It's a fair bit cheaper than both the almost-identical Polo GTI and SEAT Ibiza Cupra. Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloys, electric windows, fog lights and air-con. Things like heated seats, Bluetooth and cruise control are all available as cheap extras. Sat-nav will cost around £500.
As well as the combination of turbocharger and supercharger allowing for impressive all-round acceleration, it also helps to reduce running costs. The 45.6mpg fuel economy figure is what you’d expect from far smaller and less powerful cars. It's achievable, too, unless you’re driving the vRS quickly. CO2 emissions of 148g/km will mean a fairly low road tax bill as well. The only thing that might be high is the price of insurance.