Skoda lent us a conspicuous bright green Fabia vRS to test. Youve likely seen it in the memorable TV ad, in which Skoda boast that its made of meaner stuff. Read our review of it to find out if it really is a lean, mean driving machine, or whether its just very green.
Were not convinced about the styling of the vRS. In the advert it looks aggresive and purposeful, but in the flesh it just doesnt stand out, even in its luminous green shell.
From the front, other than a small vRS badge, theres little to distinguish it from a standard Fabia. Side on it looks a bit sportier, thanks to the coloured brake calipers, 17 wheels and subtle side skirts. Then from the back the only clue that its made from meaner stuff is the air-diffuser and dual exhausts.
In terms of the colour, we couldnt work out whether we loved it or hated it. It does look quite fantastic at night, and certainly attracted a lot of attention, but we think youd get a bit sick of it over time.
Step inside and there are a few more hints at its sporty nature, with vRS badging on all the seats, steel-plated pedals and a tartan style seat pattern. However, in parts it looks a bit too plain and grey.
Theres an awful lot of dark plastic everywhere, with some rather tired looking dials and switches. Parts do look modern though, such as the dials and info-screen that sits between the speedometer and tachometer.
The touch-screen looks great, especially at night, with green lights that matched our lurid paintwork. The screen was accurate and intuitive to use, but it was often slow to process and seemed to freeze a bit.
Hot hatches and sound systems often go hand in hand. We were a bit disappointed with the Fabia vRS stereo, it sounded tinny and lacking in bass. There isnt the option of an upgraded speaker system either.
Back seat room is fine, with plenty of head and leg room, the boot is spacious too, youre unlikely to run out of space.
The vRS is a lot of fun to drive. The handling is involving, theres decent feedback through the steering wheel and blasting down a country road is very enjoyable. Around town the steering is light and it couldnt be simpler to drive.
This is a hot hatch, so dont expect a perfectly comfortable ride. The vRS has sports suspension, so you do feel the bumps, though its not unbearable.
The excellent DSG gearbox can be left in full-auto mode when youre feeling lazy and just want to cruise along. Theres also the option of flappy paddles, or pushing the gearstick up and down to change gear.
A recurring complaint about the Fabia vRS has been the lack of a manual gearbox. We join them in agreeing its odd to not even have the option of one, but the 7-speed, when in manual mode, does work fantastically.
Theres a 1.4 Petrol under the bonnet. But dont scoff. Its a brilliant little engine.
What it lacks in outright displacement it makes up for by having both a supercharged and turbocharger, which work together to give 150 bhp and a 0-60 time of 7.3 seconds.
60 in 7.3 seconds may not sound particularly rapid, but its a really responsive engine. Its very quick off the line, great for overtaking and easily surges ahead while travelling at motorway speeds. Theres no throttle lag at all, and the engine works through the 7-Speed DSG gearbox seamlessly.
The engine doesnt sound too promising at start-up, but once youre moving its quiet. Under acceleration it emits a lovely growl.
Value for money
Skoda as a brand excel at value for money, and the vRS is no exception. There are few other cars that can offer the fun-factor and speed of this Fabia.
Its biggest competitor is the rather more grown up Polo GTI, which has the same engine, but starts at 18,935, which is a whopping 2,500 over the basic vRS.
Our test car came with a fair bit of kit, bringing the total price to 18,265. Optional extra included:
Sat-Nav (535) – Worked well, apart from a bit of lag, and looks smart
Bluetooth (235) – We had issues connecting an iPhone, but with a bit of patience got it synced
White roof paint (375) – Were always a big fan of two-tone paint, it looks sporty
Climate control (275) – Reasonably priced, so worth it to stay comfortable
Metallic paint (440) – That green definitely does turn heads!
The official fuel economy figure is 45.6 mpg, and with some enthusiastic back-road driving mixed with city crawling, we averaged 37 mpg which is really impressive. A CO2 figure of 148g/km translates to just 130 a year in tax.
We cant help thinking that the muted styling is going to put buyers off. How the car looks is particularly important in this class, and it just doesnt look as good as it drives, which is a real shame.
Undoubtedly, some people still retain the now archaic notion that Skoda is a budget brand, and so will dismiss the Fabia vRS, but theyll be missing out on a performance bargain.
What the press think
Here at carwow we aggregate and summarise what the best UK experts think of every new car. The general consensus from the critics is similar to ours; they love the characterful engine, low running costs and fun factor. Criticisms they share are also about the looks and the rather bland interior.
Buying a new Skoda Fabia vRS
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