What is it?
Well, it’s the new Fabia vRS, the latest incarnation of Skoda’s likeable pint-sized hot hatch. What it isn’t, however, is a diesel. Unlike the previous version, which was powered by a 130bhp 1.9 TDI unit, the new version gets the Volkswagen Group’s 1.4 TSI turbo and supercharged engine producing 178bhp and 184lb ft.
If that sounds familiar, it’s the same engine used in the new – and considerably more expensive – Polo GTI. The Fabia vRS also gets a seven-speed DSG 'box as standard (there’s no manual option), LED running lights and smart 17-inch alloys.
What’s it like?
Lots of fun. The 178bhp twincharged TSI motor is feisty but refined, if a little vocal at times, with a healthy wallop in the midrange and a decent kick up at the top. The 0-62mph sprint takes just 7.3sec, and it will push on to 139mph should the need arise.
The Fabia is agile and steers and grips well, aided by ESP and the XDS electronic differential system, which operates for the most part quite unobtrusively. As a pure driver’s machine the lack of a manual gearbox option may put some potential buyers off, for the most part it’s an engaging and highly entertaining drive.
The cabin isn’t luxurious but its vRS sports seats are comfortable, while the interior is smartly finished with decent plastics and tasteful, if a touch understated, trim. The ride is surprisingly good, too, for a car with such sporting pretensions, with firm but well damped suspension coping exceptionally with all but the worst of potholes and irregular surfaces.
Should I buy one?
We can’t think of many reasons why not. At a £15,700 the Fabia vRS isn’t quite being given away, but you get a lot of car, and a lot of performance, for the money.
It’s well built, well equipped as standard, stylish (in its own boxy kind of way) and a hefty chunk of cash less than a Polo GTI, although to be fair Skoda and VW proabably aren’t chasing quiten the same customers with their respective offerings.
But most of all the Fabia is cracking fun to drive when you’re in the mood, and an entirely agreeable – not to mention practical – mode of transport when you’re not.