RE: Skoda Fabia vRS

Tuesday 17th February 2004

Skoda Fabia vRS

John Martin looks at Skoda’s hot-hatch - torque is cheap!


Skoda Fabia vRS Why do manufacturers spend millions on motorsport, only to let their road going vehicles flood off the production line looking like the wheeled equivalent of Iain Duncan-Smith? Hyundai is one example, with its woeful Accent. It’s a similar story at Citroen, although at least they tried with the Xsara VTS.

You could include Skoda in that group. I mean, where’s the bewinged, tarmac-shredding, four-wheel-drive, turbocharged road car? Instead we’re handed a standard looking Fabia with five doors and a diesel engine! This is all very nice, but where’s the Garrett TR30R-fed 2-litre motor and active diff that the World Rally Car promises?

vRS

Truth be told, Skoda’s hot-hatch effort, the Fabia vRS offers far more fun than you’d expect. The 130bhp, 1.9 TDi might only power the Fabia to 60 in 9.6 seconds, but keep the tacho between 1500 and 2700rpm and you’ll be feeling the full force of its massive 310nm of torque (that's 228ft-lb in old money!).

The engine, which has been fitted to everything from the Golf to the A6, is - to be fair - a revelation. It’ll pull hard in any gear, and provided you’re in the power band, it’s more than capable of putting a smile on your face. Like most diesels, flooring it right round to the redline is pretty pointless as the power is all low down, so swapping cogs through VAG's proven six-speeder is a must.

Whilst its not usually too high on PHer’s list of priorities, the car is amazingly economical. Give it some beans and it’ll still cover over 40mpg, but on a motorway run, you’ll be looking at the right side of 60 to the gallon. That’s impressive whichever way you look at it.

£12K

Skoda Fabia vRS The trade-off is that in terms of refinement, it’s not up there with the likes of Mercedes or BMW – but this is a 12-grand car, not a £20,000 luxobarge. It’s pretty clattery on tick-over and if you, like me, leave your foot gently resting on the clutch pedal and your hand on the gearstick, you’ll be complaining of pins and needles before too long.

In terms of handling, it’s nowhere near the standard set by the small hot-hatch upstarts, the 106 and Saxo as there is too much wallow in the steering. That said, the steering offers adequate feedback – certainly more than the Polo, on which the Fabia is based.

It isn’t going to score many brownie points for looks, but we should be thankful that they’ve not made the vRS in the god-awful saloon or estate guise. Skoda’s chief designer, Thomas Ingenlath was responsible for the vRS’s design and, if you ask me, he's done a pretty good – if limited job of raising its design above the pit of mediocrity that afflicts its downmarket siblings.

Looks

Skoda Fabia vRS The front has been equipped with a pleasant front bumper, encasing the now-obligatory mesh vent between two fog lamps. Around the back, you’ll find a deeper bumper with a chromed tailpipe poking through off-centre, a boot spoiler and some discreet badging. And that’s about it. Which is all slightly odd considering the in-house design efforts of the World Rally Car, which is really rather handsome.

Still, all this adds up to looking like something ordinary to the casual observer that, if driven right, has the potential to leave Kev and his Fiesta choking on its diesel fumes.

The interior has the same feel as anything to come from the VAG stable. The switchgear has a quality feel and is well laid out, whilst the dials are clear and easy to read. The only indications of this model’s sporting credentials are a set of particularly supportive seats which move every which way, so finding the perfect seating position is a doddle, a bespoke gearknob and a couple of vRS logos on the dials complete the look.

Toys

Skoda Fabia vRS Skoda hasn’t been shy when it comes to specking the vRS. ABS, MSR and ASR all help to get that prodigious torque down onto the tarmac, whilst ESP can be added as a cost option. On the comfort and safety front, air-con, electric front windows, single-slot CD player, alarm, remote central locking and driver and passenger airbags all come as standard.

The Fabia vRS is in someways a Jack of all trades and master of none, but somehow it all gels together to become a quite appealing prospect. Pitch it against any number of rivals and you’ll find the spec levels higher and in many cases better performance. All indications are that residuals should be pretty good, reliability is likely to be top-notch, it sniffs at the diesel and you’ll even have the added benefit that it can still turn heads. No really!

Badger

Skoda Fabia vRS Unfortunately the main thing the Fabia has against it is the badge, which is a real shame because both the Fabia and Octavia vRS’s have a lot to offer the average petrolhead. Perhaps Skoda need to rebrand their marque and they certainly need to bin their ‘It’s a Skoda. Honest’ advertising campaign.

When it was launched a few months ago, there was no fanfare and it just slipped into the showrooms, largely unnoticed. But now people have started to take note. The Guild of Scottish Writers ranked it number 1 diesel car on the road and was a contender in CAR magazine’s Performance Car of the Year challenge.

Until my week living with the Fabia, I’d hardly noticed them on the roads, and lets be honest, they’re hardly the sexiest thing on four wheels. But in the days since, they seem to be everywhere. In fact, Which? have found the Fab to be the tenth most personally recommended car in the UK. Which is exactly what I’m doing to you. Try it – you’ll be surprised.

Links

Author
Discussion

stevenrt

Original Poster:

141 posts

201 months

Tuesday 17th February 2004
quotequote all
Who is Iain Duncan-Smith?

PetrolTed

34,319 posts

234 months

Tuesday 17th February 2004
quotequote all
I think that was his problem

toppstuff

11,411 posts

178 months

Tuesday 17th February 2004
quotequote all
One of those plus a Carrera RS or a Sagaris for fun would be pretty damn near perfect !

A good car.

crankedup

17,415 posts

174 months

Tuesday 17th February 2004
quotequote all
Wonder how the insurance group rating works out? It certainly is a strange mix on paper.

westy04

275 posts

193 months

Tuesday 17th February 2004
quotequote all
The bonus with the Fabia vRS is that you can chip to about 180bhp with 320ft/lbs of Torque for 450.
Not bad in a small car.
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top fuel

2,590 posts

184 months

Tuesday 17th February 2004
quotequote all
I love the current range of Skodas. I also think that they have shaken thier crappy image with real car fans.

The people who still won't entertain buy a skoda as thier new car are prehistoric pricks, suposing there is an equivilent skoda for the car they are considering.

The thing is, people who hate the old Skodas hate them because eveyone else did (only afew knew how awful they were) and haven't got enough of a clue about cars to realise that a Fabia is a brilliant car and a Crysler Voyager is a hopeless one.

If you removed the badges any John Boy in the world would want a vRS Fabia (even tho it's a Diseasel) but if they can't see past a few small pieces of plastic then perhaps they don't deserve such a good car.

I for one would love to own a Fabia or Octavia vRS or even a Superb.

:dismountssoapbox:

>> Edited by top fuel on Tuesday 17th February 16:45

mutley

3,173 posts

190 months

Tuesday 17th February 2004
quotequote all
Pick up my vRS on the 1st March, the dealer had taken 4 orders in the week between test drive and ordering and would have sold more.

Methinks this is a hidden gem

Insurance group is listed as 9a,

>> Edited by mutley on Tuesday 17th February 19:12

monkeyhanger

9,168 posts

173 months

Tuesday 17th February 2004
quotequote all
I'm coming up to 1 year of owning an Octavia RS and have not regretted buying it for a minute. It's chipped to 233 Bhp and shames a lot of more expensive cars

As for the Fabia, i've not heard a bad word against them. They too can be chipped to 180 / 190 Bhp.

But, it's a Skoda, so the badge snobs won't touch it. which suits those of us with more brains than money just fine

Road_Terrorist

5,591 posts

173 months

Wednesday 18th February 2004
quotequote all
wasn't skoda originally a real top class manufacturer, like in the Rolls Royce category (prewar)?

westy04

275 posts

193 months

Wednesday 18th February 2004
quotequote all
I think Skoda was a top marque pre-war until the factory was took over to build tanks for the war etc.

The Witchfinder

94 posts

176 months

Wednesday 18th February 2004
quotequote all
Road_Terrorist said:
wasn't skoda originally a real top class manufacturer, like in the Rolls Royce category (prewar)?

Yeah, they started in 1895 as Laurin & Klement Co., making bicycles. For a long time, Skoda was a real premium marque. Check out www.skoda-auto.com

icamm

2,153 posts

191 months

Wednesday 18th February 2004
quotequote all
westy04 said:
I think Skoda was a top marque pre-war until the factory was took over to build tanks for the war etc.
Yes and then after the war they were in the Soviet block so .......

dinkel

24,593 posts

189 months

Wednesday 18th February 2004
quotequote all
www.supercars.net/garages/EBoNix3000/114v2.html

Still waiting for this Fabia a bitted trimmed down for every day road use . . .

Madmini

217 posts

177 months

Wednesday 18th February 2004
quotequote all
When constructing the London Eye, a lot of companies asked if they could manufacture the spindle simply weren't able to. So they asked Skoda:
www.londoneye.co.uk/about/fact_popspindle.asp

dinkel

24,593 posts

189 months

Thursday 19th February 2004
quotequote all
"Virtually noiseless, the wheel is a remarkable feat of modern engineering. What's more, it was also a truly international project with the various components being supplied from Holland, Italy and the Czech Republic (Skoda technology powers the Eye's turbine). "

Mike Jones

1 posts

168 months

Monday 19th July 2004
quotequote all
I see the tester says he likes to drive with his foot gently rested on the clutch and hand on the gearknob.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm sure I was told never to do this, as it causes undue stress on the clutch and gear linkage (plus the fact that you should have both hands on the wheel).
Great car that vRS, I don't have one but the wife's got a normal Fabia TDI PD, and that goes amazingly well. I did look to buy one last year, but the dealer didn't want to take my MG ZS180 in part exchange.

llamekcuf

545 posts

185 months

Monday 19th July 2004
quotequote all
The Fabia VRS is quite a good car. I have the seat version, same floorpan and engine etc, just slightly different suspension. The bonus on the Ibiza is that the insurance is group 7, which at the age of 19 makes a difference

rude girl

6,937 posts

190 months

Monday 19th July 2004
quotequote all
I've got a Fabia vRS

Pocket Rocket!

edc

7,110 posts

182 months

Monday 19th July 2004
quotequote all
The Ibiza Cupra PD160 is the next one up with bigger spec at a fraction more money.

size13

1,978 posts

188 months

Monday 19th July 2004
quotequote all
I sat in a vRS - hated the interior (all my own opinion of course)