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Skoda Fabia vRS
7/10

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Road Test

Skoda Fabia vRS estate driven

Driven December 2010

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You want a hot supermini? You own a beagle? You restore antique furniture in the Shaftesbury area? Your name is Simon? If you've answered ‘yes' to all these questions, good news - we have the perfect car for you: the Fabia vRS estate!

We are being facetious (sorry, Simon, for getting your hopes up there). But to make a point: the Fabia vRS estate is likely be a rare sight on British roads. Not because it's rubbish - objectively, it's probably a bettercar than its hatchback sibling - but because its target market, while admittedly slightly wider than beagle-owning, furniture-restoring Simons in north Dorset, is still wafer-thin.

The previous Fabia vRS was, remember, a generously torqued diesel, but the new estate gets VW's now-quite-ubiquitous 178bhp turbo- and supercharged 1.4-litre engine mated to a seven-speed DSG, a set-up already seen in the vRS hatch as well as the Polo GTI and Ibiza Cupra.

Like its stablemates, the Fabia estate's powertrain is technically proficient yet anonymous: the double-clutch 'box, though definitely sharper than the saggy unit in the Ibiza Cupra, still leaves you too detached from the driving process. Give us a manual, Skoda, and we shall proclaim you king of the VAG hot hatchery.

Even driven hard, the vRS doesn't feel any lardier than its hatchback cousin. That's because, er, it isn't. Bizarrely, the estate actually weighs 5kg less than the hatch: the smaller car, says Skoda, requires an extra 25kg of ballast at the rear to keep it stable. So the estate will accelerate equally rapidly and - thanks to the improved airflow over the elongated back - manage a top speed of 140mph, a whole one mile-per-hour quicker than the vRS hatch. This makes it the fastest Fabia ever, a pub fact that will impress nobody. Not even Simon.

On the road, you'll struggle to notice the 5kg weight advantage, but the estate feels every bit as nimble as the hatch, with the bonus of a big boxy lump of practicality. Seats folded, there's a mighty 1,440 litres of bootspace, which, improbably, is more than you get in a BMW 3-Series Touring. More than enough for your shoddy Sheratons and chipped Chippendales.

The estate makes a case for itself financially too: though £800 dearer than the Fabia hatchback, it's stillway cheaper than a similarly specced three-door Polo GTI. With neither Seat nor VW likely to offer an estate variant of their hot supermini, the Fabwagon will remain a unique proposition. Should you buy one? If the shoe - the small-yet-big-and-quite-fast shoe - fits, why not? Hell, if you're in the market for a 140mph, auto 'box, hot supermini estate, you can't do better than this one.

Sam Philip

On your drive for: £407pcm
Performance: 0-62mph in 7.3secs, max speed 140mph, 45.6mpg
Tech: 1390cc, 4cyl, FWD, 180bhp, 184lb ft, 1318kg, 143g/km CO2

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