Skoda Fabia RS Wagon First Drive Review
Isaac Bober reviews the Skoda Fabia RS Wagon with pricing, specs, ride and handling and verdict.
The hot hatches of yore were, generally speaking, usually nothing more than a stonking great big engine stuffed between the chassis rails of a teeny, tiny car. Not so, the current crop of angry little super-minis which rely on small engines and turbocharging for maximum grunt and go… Enter the Skoda Fabia RS.
Well, at least it entered the market last year. Peel back the skin and you’ll find VW Group stamps all over the engine, the brakes, the suspension, and the… well, just about everything actually. You see, the Fabia RS is a virtual twin-under-the-skin to the Volkswagen Polo GTI, and Audi A1 1.4 TSI. Only it’s actually a whole lot more than either one of those cars.
And, unlike its siblings, the Fabia RS is available not just as a hatch, but also as a mini-wagon (which is the variant we’re testing) making it a whole lot more practical. Indeed, rear seats up you get an impressive 480 litres of storage space (the Polo GTI, by comparison, manages just 204 litres), and fold the rear seats and this grows to a cavernous 1460 litres of boot-space.
And that big rear puts the Fabia RS Wagon into a league of its own with Skoda claiming it the “thinking man’s hot hatch,” meaning it’s small enough to be thrifty at the bowser, big enough to carry, well, plenty of stuff, and with enough grunt to make you giggle.
Behind the wheel, the Skoda Fabia RS Wagon (and hatch too) is a little bit of a disappointment. Sure, all the dials and switchgear are clear and easy to use on the fly and the fit and finish is as good as anything you’ll find on a Volkswagen, but it comes off feeling utilitarian rather than hot-ish hatch. That said, you do forget about the scratchy plastic the moment you arrive at the first corner of your favourite bit of road…
Under the bonnet is the same 1.4-litre supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder you get in the Polo GTI and A1 1.4 TFSI, it offers 132kW of power at 6200rpm and 250Nm from 2000-4500rpm, which is enough grunt to see the Fabia RS Wagon hit the legal limit in just 7.3 seconds.
What really gets you about the Fabia RS Wagon, besides its practicality, is just how much fun it is to drive. The steering is well weighted and direct, and the combination of decent front-end grip and clever electronics mean its capable of some impressive cornering speeds… and, like all good hot hatches its responsive to the throttle, adjusting its line according to more or less right foot.
Unlike a lot of garden variety models that have been warmed up, the Fabia RS manages to ride very well, insulating driver and passengers from all but the worst of the road. My one gripe is that the cavernous cabin is a little boomy on all but billiard-table smooth roads.
The Fabia RS Wagon lists from $29,990 (+ORC) and gets, as standard, six airbags, traction and stability controls, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, multi-function trip computer, climate control, one-touch up and down power windows front and back, lowered and stiffer suspension, 17-inch alloys and grippy seats, plus much more.
PRACTICAL MOTORING SAYS
All up, the Fabia RS Wagon is easily one of the best equipped and best driving cars in the super-mini segment. That it’s a wagon makes it the most practical, too.