Saturday 25 November 2017

New toy made me boy racer

With surprising room, there's little dinky about the new Fabia RS, the fastest production car that Skoda has ever produced, says Campbell Spray

SMOOTH OPERATOR: The Fabia RS is a lovely car to drive with a firm grip on the road
SMOOTH OPERATOR: The Fabia RS is a lovely car to drive with a firm grip on the road

THERE'S something rather nice about being asked to test a small car that has a blue body and white roof. It's like being reduced to a Dinky-sized toy and I can run all around the carpet pretending to be a police car and frighten the dog, cats and my favourite teddy bear with its missing right eye.

So I regressed very fast when I approached the Skoda Fabia RS, which is powered by a 180BHP 1.4 TSI direct injection petrol engine and is the fastest production car the company has ever produced.

It accelerates to 100km/h in 7.3 seconds on the way to a top speed of 225km/h. This is very quick and my passenger, who interestingly had also been reduced even more to dinky size, complained of whiplash when we shot across the floor on the way to the toy cupboard and our afternoon tea.

But back to the real world. When the new Fabia came out a few years ago it was the first Skoda for some time -- both before and since -- with which I was less than impressed. It didn't quite look right and it only scored a very ordinary pass for its driveability.

Since then I have tended to shun the car, preferring to drive the impressive Yeti, incredibly competent Octavia and the very well-named and mightily big Superb. The Roomster is -- let us say -- interesting.

However, the Fabia RS has made me slightly reassess my critique. For although the basic model doesn't have all the gizmos, power and driving characteristicswith which the RS is loaded for its €22,890, it's still a roomy, well-built car. Nothing special, mind, but very adequate, and prices for the very basic model start at €12,535. However, there is also a Fabia Sportline model with some of the more superficial elements of the RS, as well as sports suspension, with prices starting at €14,610.

The performance of the RS itself is achieved thanks to dual-charging via a turbocharger and mechanically driven Super Charger. The transmission is equally advanced and uses the VW group's very well-tested seven-speed DSG twin-clutch automatic box which allows for extremely effective gear shifting in either automatic mode, which I preferred, or via paddle shifts located behind the steering wheel.

It was a lovely car to drive. responsive and with a very firm grip on the road. Perhaps too firm for some as you do feel that you become intimately connected to very abrasion on the road's surface. But go back to dream world, put these thoughts out of your mind and pretend you are gliding across the carpet.

The interior may not be sporty enough for some and the seats don't give enough leg support to smaller people even when not in the Dinky-mode. Yet it was good to be driving a petrol car again and I was happy with the consumption. Skoda claims that you can get a combined figure of 45.6mpg, but that is rather optimistic. However, emissions aren't that way off at 148g/km. This gives a road tax of €302 which is either double or treble every other Fabia.

Maybe the RS brought out the latent boy racer in me but I so enjoyed my time in it. The price is hard to beat as well.

A lot of fans of the previous Fabia RS aren't pleased that the firm has ditched the diesel engine which had more mid-range power but I rather liked the new version.

This diesel thing is too all consuming.

I was happy in Toytown. Now I need my afternoon nap.

Sunday Independent

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