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Skoda Fabia vRS 1.4 TSI DSG

Click to view picture gallery“Acronyms are a fact of modern
  motoring life: many of today
s car
  models don
t even have a name;
  just a number. The fun is guessing
  what they secretly stand for.
  No brain-stretcher with Skoda
s
  Fabia vRS
‘very Rapid Skoda’
  fits nicely
...


OKAY, IT MAY NOT BE the fastest hot-hatch in the pack but there's no denying its ability to unfailingly plaster a smile across your face every time you nudge the selector back into Sport mode and fire it down the road.

Not only does its smooth-shifting, seven-speed DSG 'box help towards its official combined consumption figure of 45.6mpg, but it injects the fun factor. For the record the DSG is standard-fit; there's no manual gearbox option — but if you're old school enough to believe that's a minus point in a performance car, think on Formula One then point us in the direction of an F1 race car with a manual gearbox...

“The vRS’s petrol-
drinking 1.4 powerplant
is ‘twin-charged’ — it
runs both a supercharger
and a turbocharger;
the supercharger
provides the low-rev
gusto up until
2,400rpm, when the turbo
takes over for the
final spurt
to the red-line.
..”
On the real-world's mean streets, the DSG paddle-shift, twin-clutch gearbox optimises the vRS's ability to entertain, seamlessly zipping up and down the ratios and always in the right gear whether you've got it in Auto or Sport mode. Helpfully, the active gear is always shown in the driver's display screen.

And the DSG's a well-chosen partner to the new petrol-drinking 1.4-litre powerplant installed in the Fabia's engine bay. It's a 'twin-charged' unit — it runs both a supercharger and a turbocharger; the supercharger provides the low-rev gusto up until 2,400rpm when the turbo takes over for the final spurt to the red-line

This clean-revving 1,390cc engine punches out 177bhp supported by a flexible 184lb ft of torque that delivers a strong shove not just from pull-away but in the mid-range too — with enough left over not to run ragged at the top-end.

Most of the time it's a refined motor, but you'll hear it when its sprinting to 62mph from standstill — it takes 7.3 seconds. Keep your foot down and it will run on all the way to a very German 139mph.

Looks-wise its slim, slightly 'upright' stance is not outrageously hot-hatch — actually quite a good thing as these days fast-and-flashy attracts too much of the wrong kind of attention. Even so, the vRS does get some go-faster body kit, along with vRS badging.

Our test car was finished in a bold shade of metallic green against which the Sunset privacy glass from the B-pillars back, LED running lights, smoked headlight covers, black mirrors and 17-inch 5 x double-spoke alloys were a smart foil. Should you wish to, you can tick the option-boxes for a black or white roof and white or black alloy wheels.

The vRS's cabin is well fitted out for sporty driving: neat, clear dials including a not-that-optimistic 160mph speedo), a three-spoke multi-function sports wheel with a very lovely perforated leather rim, smartly-upholstered, well-bolstered vRS sports seats that hold you in place through twisty esses, and stainless steel pedals. And it's very easy to get comfortable thanks to strong built-in lumbar support and generous two-way adjustment for the steering wheel and height adjustment for the seat base.

The interior is smartly finished with good attention to detail (chrome filleting, satin black shift paddles, etc), and the dash is refreshingly unfussed — focused; with nothing to distract you when you're covering ground quickly. Plus all-round visibility is excellent, especially to the rearwards courtesy of the near enough full-width rear screen. Handy, because you don't get any parking sensors as standard (they're a 285 option). A better idea would be to put that towards the excellent Amundsen SatNav with DAB radio that costs 625.

“Those of you who like
real air while
travelling can lower the
windows and enjoy
‘natural’ cooling without
bluster or buffeting.
A nice change to hear
the birds singing as
you’re tootling
along!
Other standard equipment includes manual AirCon with a pollen filter, a chilled glove box, vRS sports seats, electric front windows (both one-shot auto up/down), power operated heated door mirrors, eight-speaker radio/CD, Multi Device Interface (for connecting to a variety of music players), driver's information display (range, speed, oil temp, trip, average mpg, etc; conveniently operated by a button on the right-hand stalk), tinted glass and privacy glass for the rear cabin, plus sports suspension.

This is a VW Group car so you'd expect a decent quota of safety items — and you get them: front, side and curtain airbags, Isofix, tyre pressure monitoring, electronic stability control, XDS electronic differential system, hill hold control, and height-adjustable front seatbelts.

The vRS sports a trump card over many of its rivals: a pair of extra side doors making it an easily accessible four/five seater. Inside there's plenty of leg- and head-room for four. In the front there's a fist of headroom, good shoulder room and plenty of elbow space for some quick wheel work even with a front passenger riding alongside.

In the back there's ample space for near-six-footers sitting behind another. Rear passengers also get plenty of room for their feet, and have the reassurance of knowing their head is some way from the tailgate glass and the roof. We didn't hear any complaints about the rear wind-up windows from back-seaters.

Those of you who like real air while travelling can lower the windows and enjoy some traditional 'cooling' without bluster or buffeting; and a pleasant change to hear the birds singing as you're tootling along! Should you prefer, the AirCon does very cold, very well. Incidentally, two rear headrests are standard — if you need a third you'll have to pay another 70. But you do get three rear three-point belts.

Often referred to as a 'pint-sized' (in an affectionate kind of way) hot-hatch, the vRS nevertheless has a lot of load space: behind the easy self-lifting tailgate you'll find 300 litres (good for a small family car) waiting to be filled with 'stuff' — anything from a buggy to a big supermarket shop.

Fold the 60:40 split rear seats and the deep, regular-shaped boot expands to 1,163 litres. The seatbacks fold flat enough although there's a shallow step up from the boot floor — not much, and not enough to stop you taking full advantage of the load bay for cargo-carrying duties.

Naturally there are sturdy pop-out bag holders (and not just for takeaways). Forgoing a spare wheel adds another 15 litres (25 in the estate). If you regularly need more, you might want to check out the vRS estate (480/1,460 litres).

“Entertaining handling
(and a sports suspension) doesn’t mean that
ride comfort takes
a back seat.
Yes, it’s on the firm-ish
side but is still
surprisingly good and
copes very satisfactorily
with our second-rate
tarmac.
..”
The vRS also comes fitted with a clever electronic limited slip differential called XDS. Effectively, this diff ensures you can put down maximum power when accelerating out of bends by transferring torque to the outside wheel in low grip situations. A neat little package that also saves weight over a mechanical diff.

The chassis itself provides plenty of grip which, combined with a good degree of agility and boosted by the XDS, lets you power through bends staying faithful to your chosen line even at high rates of knots.

Brakes — front and back showing blood-red callipers through the spokes of the alloys wearing 205/40 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx — are reassuring and progressive. And proved unruffled during an unplanned real-life emergency stop. Likewise the steering is fine and in tune with the rest of the vRS's dynamics.

However, entertaining handling (and a sports suspension) doesn't mean that ride comfort takes a back seat. Yes, it's on the firm-ish side but is still surprisingly good and copes very satisfactorily with our second-rate tarmac. On motorways it tracks straight and true — not always the case with hard-charging small hot-hatches.

When family responsibilities beckon, the Fabia vRS is also an easy to live with and practical small family car. Performance-wise the vRS lives up to its rep: it goes like a rocket but without the giveaway fizz-bangs! Satisfaction guaranteed when you're in the mood to play.
MotorBar

Skoda Fabia vRS 1.4 TSI DSG | 17,150
Top speed: 139mph | 0-62mph: 7.3 seconds | Average Test MPG: 36.8mpg
Power: 177bhp | Torque: 184lb ft | CO2 148g/km