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Skoda Fabia RS 2012 Review

The smallest vehicle segment, or light, as it's known, is a bit of a grab-bag. It ranges from the Chery J1, a Chinese import for $10,990 cross-your-fingers-driveaway, to the Fiat Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari at the we-saw-you-coming price of $69,990.

But desirable badges are beginning to crack the 4m-long formula. The Audi A1, Mini, Alfa Romeo Mito, Citroen DS3 and Renault Clio all have at least one version with a performance slant.

However, they are all three-door cars. If you want five doors and a European pedigree, the options narrow considerably. Until recently there was only one: the Volkswagen Polo GTI. Since it arrived a couple of years ago, it has been almost as critically acclaimed as the Golf GTI, its bigger brother

Now it has been joined by the Skoda Fabia RS, and there are a couple of reasons why the Czech badge might steal a few buyers from Veedub. Chief among them is the fact that Volkswagen owns Skoda and the two share technology. This strategy is known as platform sharing and Volkswagen is its leading exponent.

Volkswagen uses essentially the same engineering not only for itself and Skoda, but also for Audi and SEAT, which is not sold here. What that means is that Audis are essentially expensive Volkswagens while Skodas are bargains.

VALUE

The RS wagon is $29,990, a $2000 premium over the hatch, and is a rarity at this end of the market if you can live with its dumpy looks. The hatch, on the other hand, has pleasing proportions and pulls the Mini trick of offering different roof colours and other personalisation tricks.

Although a Mini-with-the-lot is a lot more expensive, the RS doesn't miss much with LEDs, 17-inch alloys, shiny pedals, leather trim, dual-zone air, six airbags and Bluetooth.

TECHNOLOGY

But the engine and transmission are the same as the current model, meaning 132kW from a 1.4-litre four-cylinder that has double forced induction. A supercharger ensures plenty of torque at low revs, then once the engine gets going a turbocharger takes over. So it's drivable without any strain, since 250Nm of torque arrives at just 2000rpm. (Those outputs, by the way, are only slightly shy of the Mercedes E200, which develops 135kW and 270Nm.)

DRIVING

The cabin, even with sports seats, is functional and fairly sombre. There's an absence of the pitch-to-youth design that mars some light cars. But it's a pleasing place to be, just the same. As far as its underpinnings go, it borrows from the previous generation Polo and is slightly narrower, shorter and lower than its Volkswagen equivalent.

At just 1.25 tonnes, the RS can reach 100km/h in a respectable 7.3 seconds while burning just 6.2 litres per 100km. Because it's heavier than the Polo GTI, it's also slightly slower and thirstier. But it would still take a long time to recoup the extra $1000 in the GTI's starting price.

To drive it's not as engaging and rewarding as some performance hatches, with remote steering and a slightly perched-on-suspension feel to the way it tackles challenging roads.

But as the runabout companion to the weekend warrior in your double garage, it's the sort of downsizing that makes sense.

Skoda Fabia  RS

Price: from $27,990 (hatchback) to $29,990 (wagon)
Warranty: 3 year roadside
Engine: 1.4-litre 4-cyl petrol supercharged & turbo 132kW/250Nm
Dimensions: 4247mm (L); 1642 (W); 1494 (H) / 4029mm (L); 1642 (W); 1492 (H)
Weight: 1248kg/1253kg
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Thirst: 7.7L/100km; 148g/km Co2

Pricing Guides

$11,888
Based on 20 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$3,990
Highest Price
$13,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
77 TSI 1.2L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $3,990 – 9,990 2012 Skoda Fabia 2012 77 TSI Pricing and Specs
77 TSI Monte Carlo 1.2L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $6,820 – 9,570 2012 Skoda Fabia 2012 77 TSI Monte Carlo Pricing and Specs
RS 132 TSI 1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $10,500 – 13,990 2012 Skoda Fabia 2012 RS 132 TSI Pricing and Specs
77 TSI 1.2L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $3,990 – 9,990 2012 Skoda Fabia 2012 77 TSI Pricing and Specs