Road Tested By Hugh Maguire
MAYBE you are by now familiar with the Skoda range of cars. However, you may not know that they have within their stable a few sporty numbers which offer terrific performance allied to practicality in saloon and hatchback styles. I am talking here about the Skoda RS range. The RS models are available in Fabia, Octavia and offer cars that put a bit of sparkle back into your driving experience. So this week I am driving the Skoda Fabia RS.
The Fabia is available as a compact 5-door hatchback or Combi (read estate) and the range kicks off with the Fabia 1.2 HTP Classic which costs just €12,535. As Skoda are part of the VAG (Volkswagen Audi Group) they have access to all the latest technologies there and the Fabia RS benefits from this in many ways. More on that later. The Fabia RS then is powered by a 1.4 litre TSI engine whih is both supercharged and turbocharged.
The Fabia RS comes in a unique colour scheme where the roof is a different colour to the body which really looks well and makes the car stand out from the crowd. There are three options, Race Blue Metallic, Anthracite Grey Metallic or Rallye Green Metallic with a choice of White, Sliver, or Black roof tops. Overall I think the Fabai RS is a bit of a head turner.
Behind The Wheel
The cabin is very nicely finished and everything feels and looks of high quality. There is a leather covered multi-function three spoke sports steering wheel, Tempo Sports seats which have the RS logo on them and I found offered excellent lateral and lumbar support. The instrument cluster is clear and concise with white on black numerals, and the level of standard equipment is impressive.
Goodies include the usual multiplicity of airbags, ABS, ESP, tyre pressure monitoring, front passenger airbag deactivation, electric windows, remote locking, fog lights, 17 inch alloys, Climatronic climate control, a quality, MP3 compatible stereo system with Aux port, and a Maxi-DOT display system.
Best of all though is that the Fabia RS comes with a stunning 7-speed DSG Gearbox as seen in the Audi A5 Sports Coupe for example!
The 1.4 litre petrol unit is both supercharged and turbocharged for maximum efficiency and power. Producing a whopping 180 bhp this engine will propel the Fabia RS from 0 to 100km/h in just 7.3 seconds and onto a top speed of 225km/h.
Mated to the VAG sourced 7-speed DSG twin clutch gearbox the combination is mighty. The driver can choose to let the car do all the gear changing or for more involving driving you can choose to up and down shift via the Formula One style paddles on the steering column or by pushing or tipping back the gearshift lever.
Performance is simply excellent and accompanied by a sporty engine note. Emissions are 148g/km putting the Fabia RS into band C at €302 for road tax.
The Fabia RS is tautly sprung to give the car that more direct feel one expects from a sports hatch. That said I never found it hard or harsh even on bumpy country roads.
It handles with limpet-like grip through the corners and offers a really rewarding driving experience. Using the paddles to change gear while negotiating a series of corners is really enjoyable. So top marks here too to the Fabia RS.
My biggest surprise came when I checked the press information on the car. Remember, here is a car that will seat four adults comfortably, five at a squeeze, has a reasonable sized boot, is compact, very well kitted out, offers 180 bhp allied to a super 7-speed DSG gearbox, goes from 0 to 100km more quickly than many so called sports cars, and delivers a truly involving and rewarding driving experience, for how much? Just €22,690.
I really enjoyed this car. Drive it sometime if you are in the market for a hot hatch and you will be hooked!