Hot baby estate is a niche within a niche, but it pleasingly blends performance and practicality

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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Northernchap 5 August 2010

Re: Skoda Fabia vRS Estate

I think I may be exactly the Fabia's target market.

Where the Fabia and the estate model score over other alternatives :

My company car policy limits me to VAG and BMW (not mini) cars. Any money that isn't spent on a lease I get back in cash. As a vague reference, an Octavia vRS petrol will cost me twenty quid a month out of my own pocket, plus the tax. The Octavia vRS diesel only a couple of quid, but saving on diesel and a small amount of tax.

In terms of a car I want quite a fast one with a fairly hard ride (previous cars - Cupra R, Cupra, Mondeo Si), but a bit more clearance than the Cupra R as I like going into the countryside and over cobbled roads. It's useful to stick a mountain bike or a kayak in the back of the car, and bootspace is also useful if you're grabbing something big from Ikea.

If I choose this, I'll get 70 quid in my pocket a month, plus the saving on tax, plus the saving on fuel consumption, and be able to stick all my crap in it. I don't care if the engine blows up as the car is fully serviced.

The only reservations I've got :

I don't like some automatics.. but perhaps the DSG will compensate .

A standard hatch may be useful over the estate, but the extra room will be useful.

Will the longer wheelbase make navigating on pitted roads tougher?

Some diesel hatches might possibly be a better option, or to accept that fast cars aren't meant to go on poorly maintained roads.

Scottish Scrutineer 16 June 2010

Re: Skoda Fabia vRS Estate

BriMarsh wrote:
Sounds like yet another car that will be a maintenance time-bomb once out of warranty.

Looks like I might be replacing my Fabia vRS with a MINI Cooper D for that reason and the better emissions ratings of the diesel, and the cheaper service package, road tax, sensible sized tyres, etc.

Just a pity Gordon Murray's T25 isn't yet in production. Small, light, fun to drive and economical? Lets hope it lives up to the hype.

BriMarsh 15 June 2010

Re: Skoda Fabia vRS Estate

Autocar wrote:
1.4-litre 178bhp turbo and supercharged TS engine and seven-speed DSG gearbox with wheel-mounted paddle shifters

Sounds like yet another car that will be a maintenance time-bomb once out of warranty.