2012 SKODA FABIA RS REVIEW
Vehicle type: Light Hatch/Wagon
Price: Hatch: $27,990 | Wagon: $29,990
Fuel efficiency (claimed): 6.2 l/100km
Available in Europe since mid-2010, the RS is now in Australia in two forms: the traditional hatch, plus, unlike its Polo GTI cousin, a wagon.
Both versions employ the 132kW 1.4 litre turbocharged and supercharged petrol four-cylinder engine found in the little Volkswagen stormer, combined exclusively with the familiar seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Priced at $27,990 for the Hatch and $29,990 for the Wagon (plus on-roads), the RS models join a growing list of sub-$30k performance buys - punctuated most recently with the launch of the Toyota 86 GT coupe.
Skoda invited TMR to sample the Fabia RS in both bodystyles at its Australian launch in Norwell, Queensland.
Both Wagon and Hatch RS versions come in a single equipment grade, which closely resembles that found in the (circa$4,000 cheaper) Monte Carlo model.
This includes most modern power, connectivity and convenience features, with the only key missing item being no touchscreen multimedia interface.
Unique to RS models are steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, embroidered RS logos on the front seat backrests and RS-specific cloth trim and scuff plates.
The cloth-trimmed sports seats are identical to those found in the Polo GTI, and offer a good balance of comfort and support. The seating position remains quite high however, even when the seats are adjusted to their lowest position.
The Wagon version’s key benefit is a 180 litre (seats up) cargo capacity advantage over the hatch, with a more than reasonable 480 litres. The cargo floor is also 256mm longer for a total of 959mm.
On The Road
When underway, any perception of the RS as a mere variation of the Monte Carlo is quickly forgotten, as the RS engine, suspension, and steering tweaks create an entirely different - and considerably more electric - driving experience.
That 132kW engine is a doll of a thing. Both the supercharger and turbocharger work together to deliver performance akin to an engine double its size. At the same time, it produces an appealing aural combination of induction growl, turbo whistle and supercharger whine.
With maximum torque of 250Nm delivered between 2000-4500rpm, the 132TSI engine is almost always ready to deliver its best, translating to pure stomp-and-steer merging or overtaking manoeuvres.
Pocket-sized they may be, but the Fabia RS hatch and wagon each offer hot-box performance and handling.
The seven-speed DSG’s capabilities are well documented in TMR reviews, but there is still a degree of clunkiness at very slow speeds.
The handling is considerably more taut than the cooking model Fabia, thanks to stiffened springs, shocks and front subframe. The electromechanical power steering has also been tuned for a meatier feel.
The result is that it's quite jittery on rural roads, but certainly rewarding when tossed through the mixture of cambered bends along Skoda’s drive route. It's a very sharp handling little package.
Despite this variation, the Wagon’s claimed acceleration of 7.3 seconds from 0-100km/h,and combined economy figure of 6.2l/100km remain the same as the Hatch.
At road speeds, any difference is imperceptible to the driver, and we found ourselves looking over our shoulders to double-check which version we were driving.
First Drive Verdict
We like the Fabia RS, in both Hatch and Wagon form.
They could do with pinching the darkened headlamp housings of the Monte Carlo model, but both are a hoot to drive, quick and agile, and represent great value ‘Euro motoring’ at under $30,000.
They can’t quite match their nearest rival Polo GTI’s 6.9 second 0-100km/h figure (due to weighing circa 60kg more), but such minor compromises are easily overlooked by anyone faced with the Polo’s still-12 month waiting list.
Skoda has confirmed an initial supply of 300 Fabia RS’ that are ready to go, so get ’em while they’re hot.
- Fabia RS - 132TSI Hatch - 7-speed DSG - $27,990
- Fabia RS - 132TSI Wagon - 7-speed DSG - $29,990
Note: prices exclude on-road costs.
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