From £9,380
Hot baby estate is a niche within a niche, but it pleasingly blends performance and practicality

Our Verdict

Skoda Fabia 2007-2014
It would be a major upset if the new Fabia wasn’t a thoroughly decent car

Is the Skoda Fabia good enough to challenge for top slot in a sector packed with talented competition?

7 June 2010

What is it?

It’s the estate version of Skoda’s engaging, entertaining and great value vRS hatchback. This is the first time Skoda has put the vRS badge on its compact estate; it shares nearly everything with the hatchback, most notably the 1.4-litre 178bhp turbo and supercharged TS engine and seven-speed DSG gearbox with wheel-mounted paddle shifters. As with the hatchback there’s no manual gearbox option.

What’s it like?

Like the vRS hatchback, it’s great fun. The 178bhp TSI engine is powerful, flexible and rewarding to use. Drive the estate back-to-back with the hatch and you’d be hard pushed to tell the difference between the two.

Like the hatch, the estate is fast, nimble and rides exceptionally well despite its sport-oriented suspension. It also benefits from an impressive load bay, with a 480-litre boot expanding to 1460 litres with the rear seats folded flat. That’s more space than in a 3-series Touring.

Surprisingly, practicalities of its load-carrying abilities aside, the estate scores over the hatch in pure performance terms, too. Improved aerodynamics thanks to a longer roofline mean it’s faster, with a 140mph top speed to the hatch’s pedestrian 139mph.

More confusingly the estate is also 5kg lighter. Skoda says the hatch has 25kg of ballast around its rear axle to optimise weight distribution; the estate, which carries more weight higher up at the rear, doesn’t need the added mass.

Should I buy one?

The Fabia vRS estate is a niche within a niche, and even Skoda UK isn’t expecting to sell many in the UK. But if you had your eye on the vRS hatch but wanted something with a useful amount of extra load capacity, then the £800 premium could be money well spent.

As entertaining to drive as it is, however, we’re not sure who else might be in the market for a boxy, quirky-looking, 178bhp, 140mph wagon. That said, if you want something practical that’s also fun, fast and above all different, then this vRS estate scores highly on all counts.

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Comments
20

11 June 2010

Could be a very fast Grampie in this. Odd how the estate is lighter than the hatch . Still thinking about a Yeti as my next car but this might be better for sheer entertainment value as a Q car. Also depends on how much stuff I can squeeze into the boot too .

I do beleive the interiors of both are about as light as a black cat in a coal cellar though . Still worth a look .

NAK

11 June 2010

Autocar, given the recent revelations about the reliability of DSG gearboxes you should run one of these as a long termer for the next 4 years and see if the gearbox lasts. At a minimum you should buy a 42 month old VW group vehicle with original DSG box fitted, run it for a year and see what happens

11 June 2010

Intrigued by the revelation that the hatch carries 25kg of ballast to "optimise weight distribution".

Is this common practice? Surely, it's just poor engineering, because the car is not as light as it could be.

11 June 2010

My car has one of the original DSG gearboxes in it.. (I think). I've not had any issues (touch wood) in the year I've had mine.

I got it being serviced soon, which is £190 (!) so hopefully the oil and filter change will just be a rejuvinating process.

11 June 2010

You wrote "...........we’re not sure who else might be in the market for a boxy, quirky-looking, 178bhp, 140mph wagon.............". Well, if it was big enough for my needs (and I'm not yet sure it is) I would definitely consider one as my company car. The problem that I and (surely) many other enthusiasts now face is the arbitrary CO2 limit of 160 g/km above which the employer's (not employee's) costs for a company car increase dramatically due to the latest tax regime imposed on companies. The result is that many companies have imposed a CO2 ceiling of 160 g/km. Other than grotty boring shopping trolleys, very few petrol cars sneak under 160 g/km so the idea of a vaguely interesting mount such as the Fabia vRS ought to be highly appealing.

What other sub-160 choices exist for those of us who value the characteristics of a decent petrol engine? BMW 320i Touring: very expensive for the space on offer. Audi A4 Avant 2.0L TFSI: very nice, but prohibitively expensive through the leasing company my employer uses, Help !

11 June 2010

Another car I might have considered if the VW group would just offer a manual gearbox option.......

11 June 2010

Fully Agree. Its a real shame the manual option is not available or indeed the diesel like the original vRS. Seems you can't have leather or Zenon lights either but you can have a black roof. Skoda will loose to protect vw. Reminds me of the days of Rover and Honda where Rover was restricted on the specifications it could offer. We all know how that ended up!

11 June 2010

[quote scrap]

Intrigued by the revelation that the hatch carries 25kg of ballast to "optimise weight distribution".

Is this common practice? Surely, it's just poor engineering, because the car is not as light as it could be.

[/quote]

Most of the reviews of this car so far seem to praise the handling balance, more so than the Polo and Ibiza. Job done I'd say!

11 June 2010

[quote RSkoda11]Most of the reviews of this car so far seem to praise the handling balance, more so than the Polo and Ibiza. Job done I'd say![/quote]

Not disagreeing with the result, just saying the method seems unsatisfactory. Why not move the battery to the boot, say, evening up the weight while making the car 25kg lighter at the same time?

11 June 2010

[quote scrap]Why not move the battery to the boot, say, evening up the weight while making the car 25kg lighter at the same time?[/quote]

Yes, why not, thats what they've done with the Polo GTi

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