Skoda Fabia 1.5 TSI 150 Monte Carlo 5dr DSG
Modern four-cylinder diesel engines are often very quiet and commendably refined. The Fabia’s… isn’t. Its 1.9-litre oil-burner has more than a whiff of Transit van about it, especially when you crank it over from cold. But as soon as it gets up and running and everything’s up to temperature it’s really not so bad.
As you’d expect there’s a load of weight over the front axle, so the Fabia may not feel as light or nimble as you were expecting. But it is stable and surefooted, grips well (though the anvil in the nose means it doesn’t take much over-enthusiasm to make it wash wide) and is easy enough to punt along at speed. The six-speed manual gearbox and clutch are slick and forgiving, and the brakes are up to the task.
Not really – you don’t get ‘performance’ cars this size powered by diesel anymore, and that alone is enough to make the Fabia feel like it’s from a bygone era. The other thing is the steering – it’s slow but reassuringly weighted. Bit numb, but still feels more natural than plenty of modern electric power steering setups.
Obviously – Skoda claims 53mpg, and owners report that even though that figure was calculated using the old and largely inaccurate NEDC text, it’s reasonably accurate. Mid-40s mpg is easily achievable. Word of warning though – drive your Fabia vRS into London and as of October 2021 you’ll need to pay the ULEZ charge. It may be economical, but what comes out the exhaust isn’t clean enough to give the vRS a free pass.
Then you may have it. Stock, the Fabia vRS has 126bhp and 229lb ft – the engine feels (relatively) big and brawny, revs freely and flexibly up to its red line (not that you’ll ever need to take it there – its best work is done in the mid-range) and yields more speed than the numbers suggest. It feels like a quick car, this. And it is.
But the engine is easily and cheaply tuneable, should you want a bit more go. We’re talking north of 180bhp with a simple software tweak, and over 200bhp if you’re prepared to spend money on uprated components.
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