In all of the Volkswagen Group’s stable of mix-and-match engine and platform-sharing big-volume brands, it’s perhaps Skoda that has managed to retain the most individuality. Think Superb, Yeti and of course, Fabia.

In non-vRS form Skoda’s boxy-looking supermini carries with it an air of quirky nonchalance and no-nonsense durability. The vRS has this too, in abundance, but added to it is a 178bhp turbo and supercharged TSI engine, a seven-speed DSG gearbox, sports seats, bigger wheels and a stiffer suspension set-up. And that lot makes for one of 2010’s most entertaining and, at just £15,700, affordable new arrivals.

 

The vRS won’t break any speed records but for the money it’s more than quick enough and handles a treat, too. And yet it’s robust enough for everyday use, it rides remarkably well on its firm suspension and tasty-looking alloys, and if you can resist the temptation to make full use of the 1.4-litre TSI motor’s performance, it will even reward you with half-decent economy figures. In all, it’s a fantastically well-mixed balance of fun and practicality.