Volkswagen Polo 2012 Review
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Skoda has approached its return to Australia in a canny European manner. Rather than rushing in with bottom end cars to gain quick sales, and then trying to lift its image by aiming at the medium-premium segments, Skoda started at the top end. By doing so it has gained credibility and is now pushing down into the affordable car area.
The result is that Skoda, now five years into its revival in Australia, has just sold its 10,000th car downunder. It’s also quickly making its name in the affordable end of the hot-hatch scene with the great little Fabia RS as well as a five-door station wagon should the hatch rear end not supply enough luggage space for your needs. The RS starts at a modest $27,990.
Skodas use major mechanical components from Volkswagen – having been controlled by the giant German company since the early 1990s when the communist era ended in the Czech Republic – and the Fabia RS shares a Twincharger 1.4-litre petrol engine, transmissions and suspension with the Volkswagen Polo GTI.
We were most impressed with the hot little Fabia’s performance. With 132 kW of power, and a strong 250 Nm of torque all the way between 2000 rpm and 4500 rpm, the Fabia RS is a pocket rocket. It goes from zero to 100 km/h in just 7.3 seconds.
The use of both a supercharger and turbocharger provides strong push throughout most of the rev range. From about 1500 you can feel the torque working, it quickly rises when you get to 2500 revs and pulls in a very linear manner when it’s comfortably over 5500 rpm.
This straight-line speed is enhanced by the seven-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox. In flat-out mode the transmission is great to sit behind, switching gears faster than humanly possible.
The Polo GTI and Fabia RS have quite different appearances, with the Volkswagen leaning in a mildly conservative direction, while the Skoda has gone for a chunky out-of-the-ordinary look that we love. There’s a hint or two of the cheeky shapes favoured by the British Mini in the character lines of Czech Skoda, these are emphasised by the availability of numerous colour combinations. Letting buyers design their own car by way of accessories is an excellent idea and can result in real fashion statements.
Our Skoda Fabia RS road test car came in yellow, which is a bold move in a conservative market like Australia. But, hey this is a sporting model for the young and for the young at heart. Indeed the young at heart could be big buyers of these little cars because in their teenage years bright colours were all the rage in cars, clothes, interior design – you name it.
We are currently in the standard Fabia (not the RS) that is a metallic blue and while that shade also works well with the Fabia's lines it doesn’t exactly leap out on the street scene.
Electronic Stability Control (ESC), ABS brakes with EBD and Brake Assist are standard to minimise the chances of having a crash – as are six airbags should you still get it wrong. The Skoda Fabia has been designed with pedestrian impact in mind, so the front bumper and bonnet are designed to deform on impact and absorb energy.
While the DSG works well under hard acceleration and deceleration, like many of its type it is a bit of a dog in slow situations. Even worse, it can surprise when parking in first or reverse gears by responding too quickly to any throttle input. For some reasons no two double-clutch gearboxes are identical in the way they perform, which must be so frustrating for engineers trying to make them work to perfection.
The Skoda Fabia RS will really suit those who like to ‘drive' cars. It is stable on all but the worst of Australia's roads and feels really sound in hard cornering. There is some steer torque, which is hardly a surprise in a sporty small hatch with a modified engine, but it is manageable and those who like a bit of character in their car will love that gentle tugging on the steering wheel under hard acceleration.
We like the chassis, it uses MacPherson struts at the front and a semi-independent read end, is a relatively sophisticated setup for a car in the affordable class. The suspension is on the firm side at times, but on the whole it soaks up most bumps without any banging and thumping. Those who like sporting cars will forgive the hot RS for its actions. At 10 metres the Fabia has a tight turning circle and the all-round driver's view is excellent.
The hottest Fabia is a great little hot hatch around town and a superb tourer for steep and winding roads where you can really get stuck into the corners.
|77 TSI||1.2L, ULP, 5 SP MAN||$3,900 – 6,270||2012 Skoda Fabia 2012 77 TSI Pricing and Specs|
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