What is it?
Remember the Fabia Greenline? It was the fuel-sipping eco-friendly version of the Fabia with tweaked aerodynamics, low-friction tyres and an aerodynamic undertray.
It was an altogether sensible proposition, just as the regular Skoda Fabia was and continues to be. So, if the Greenline was the sensible option, what’s the Redline?
Far from the opposite. It’s powered by the Volkswagen Group’s three-cylinder 1.0 TSI petrol engine with 109bhp and 148lb ft and based on the mid-range SE-spec car, with a few additional extras to make it a little special. Primary among them are two stripes running the length of the car, red door mirror caps and black alloy wheels, while inside, there are figure-hugging sports seats. Heavens.
What's it like?
So all those sporty additions mean it’s the closest thing to a small hot hatch that Skoda is doing at the moment, right?
Kind of. It’s the joint-quickest in the Fabia range, yes – as with the regular 1.0 TSI SE, 0-62mph takes 9.5sec and top speed is 122mph. It has plenty of power for a fairly light supermini and pulls well from any speed. Don’t expect vRS-level torque and it’ll be more than enough.
The Fabia corners nicely, being decent over big bumps and only a little fidgety at low speeds. Its cornering is a little soft, but the seats hold you in place exactly as they’re supposed to.
That rolliness is where the hot hatch stripes begin to peel away, though. The 1.0 TSI is a torquey little wasp, and under quicker acceleration, the Fabia’s body takes a nanosecond to catch up with the wheels, so you bob your head up the gears. That's the opposite of what a hot hatch should do, so it kills the illusion pretty quickly.
The Redline isn't a hot hatch, though, and driven more smoothly, it's as comfortable and refined as the Fabia with the old 1.2 TSI powerplant and even quieter under most circumstances. There’s the added bonus of a few extra miles per gallon, too, although most drivers will get a few less than Skoda’s official claim of 64.2mpg.
Inside, it’s almost exactly the same as the SE, even down to annoyingly stingy details such as the lack of one-touch electric front windows (even a mid-spec Dacia Sandero gets those), although the multi-function steering wheel is a new addition.
Should I buy one?
If you’re after a Skoda hot hatch, you’ll be disappointed. If you’re after a comfortable small hatchback that can be called upon to muster up some zip, you’ll be pleased.
The Redline isn't a cheap option, at £15,995, but it makes more power than the similarly-priced Ford Fiesta Zetec. You’ll get more kit with the Fiesta but residual values won’t be as robust.
With a facelifted Fabia on the way at the end of the year, stiffened suspension on models such as this would improve the overall package. For now, though, the Redline is as hot as it gets.