Review: Skoda Fabia vRS (2010 – 2013)

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Great performance from buzzy 1.4 TSI engine. Very precise in corners. Firm but forgiving ride. Nicely weighted steering. Impressively economical.

Not available with a manual gearbox. Interior nothing special. Dropped from range late 2013 due to severe oil consumption problems. Many engines have had to be replaced. Brilliant technology that didn't work.

Skoda Fabia vRS (2010 – 2013): At A Glance

It was a long time coming - the standard Skoda Fabia was launched in 2007 - but after quite a wait, in 2010 the eagerly anticipated Skoda Fabia vRS was finally launched. The big news is that unlike the old Fabia vRS, this version doesn't use a diesel engine, something which made its predecessor unique. Instead it's powered by a 1.4-litre petrol engine. This may sound far too small for what's supposed to be a 'hot hatch' but thanks to both a turbocharger and supercharger, it offers an impressive 180PS and 250Nm torque.

This is the same engine that's used in the SEAT Ibiza Cupra and it gives the Fabia vRS a rapid 0-62mph time of 7.3 seconds. It's a very impressive unit that's happy to be revved and delivers plenty of pace from low down, so doesn't always need to be worked hard to tap into the power. Unusually, it doesn't come with a manual gearbox though - instead it has a seven-speed DQ200 DSG twin-clutch transmission as standard that comes complete with steering wheel-mounted paddleshifts.

Available as both a five-door hatchback and - for the first time - as an estate, the Skoda Fabia vRS certainly looks the part from the outside with understated but sporty styling, plus there's plenty of scope for personalisation with different coloured roofs, door mirrors and alloy wheels. It's quite disappointing that the interior is so drab, it doesn't have many of the sporting touches you'd expect in a hot hatch like this.

It's a very civilised car though, with a smooth ride on all but the roughest road surfaces while at motorway speeds it's quiet and refined. Other hot hatches may be more driver-focussed, but the vRS is still keen and agile in corners, helped by good feel through the steering and well controlled body roll. But perhaps the biggest selling point for the Fabia vRS is the high level of standard equipment you get along with impressive average fuel economy of more than 45mpg.

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What does a Skoda Fabia vRS (2010 – 2013) cost?

List Price from £12,970
Buy new from £9,583

Skoda Fabia vRS (2010 – 2013): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4029–4276 mm
Width 1886 mm
Height 1492–1494 mm
Wheelbase 2464 mm

Full specifications

The interior of the Fabia vRS is a little drab considering this is supposed to be a sporty hatchback. While the outside is understated in terms of looks, the cabin is pretty dull with very few hints that this is the performance version of the Fabia. The black plastics do little to help it stand out and the bulk of it looks just like any other Fabia in the range.

There are a few details such as the vRS badging on the three-spoke steering wheel and chrome trim on the gear lever, but it lacks any of the sporting touches - such as red stitching, metal detailing or bespoke dials - you usually get on top of the range hot hatches. It's well built and comfortable, but doesn't have that special ambience you'd want in a sporty car.

The sports seats are pretty good but again they're very sombre with an ordinary fabric pattern and small vRS badging. They could do with more support too, especially around the thighs and feel too flat to be genuine 'sports' seats. That said, the quality of the interior is excellent. Some of the plastics feel a little on the hard side, but there are soft touch materials on the dash top and everything feels robust and durable, albeit not particularly stylish.

It comes very well equipped as standard which makes the vRS look good value compared to other hot hatches. All cars have 17-inch alloy wheels (available in chrome, dark chrome, black or white), electrically adjustable door mirrors (which are also heated), a trip computer, air conditioning and ESP stability control.

Like the standard Fabia, the vRS is also very practical. The cabin is spacious and there's good room for rear passengers too, helped by the fact that the Fabia is a five-door hatchback - there's no three-door version. It has the same usefully large boot as the standard Fabia with 300 litres of space. Interestingly, the vRS is also available as an estate which is unique for a sporty car of this size. This is the model to go for if you want performance and practicality. It has a cavernous boot and with the seats folded down and can swallow 1460 litres of luggage - that's more than a BMW 3 Series Touring.

Standard equipment from launch (July 2010):

The Fabia vRS comes well equipped with a seven-speed DSG gearbox, 17-inch alloy wheels, XDS electronic differential, three-spoke multifunction leather sports steering wheel, electric front windows, electrically heated and adjustable door mirrors, ESP, height adjustable driver's and passenger seats, Isofix mounts on outer rear seats, manual air conditioning, front fog lights, a trip computer, a CD stereo, rear spoiler, remote central locking, sports seats and stainless steel pedals.

Child seats that fit a Skoda Fabia vRS (2010 – 2013)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Skoda Fabia vRS (2010 – 2013) like to drive?

There's just one engine in the Skoda Fabia vRS and it's no longer a TDI. Instead the vRS now uses a 1.4 TSI engine - a unit that's used in various Skoda, Volkswagen, SEAT and Audi models. It may sound very small, but it boasts more than enough power with 180PS on tap thanks to a turbocharger and supercharger.

Both work together to provide seamless power delivery across the rev range and it's incredibly responsive when you ask it to accelerate, helped by an impressive torque figure of 250Nm from just 2000rpm. That's more than other alternatives with larger engines such as the Renault Clio Renaultsport and as a result 0-62mph takes 7.3 seconds (in both the hatch and estate). On paper that's not as fast as other hot hatches of this size, but the Fabia vRS feels just as quick in everyday driving thank to its ability to pull so strongly in-gear.

The other big advantage to the TSI engine is fuel efficiency. Average economy is 45.6mpg - pretty remarkable considering the performance offered. This is further helped by the seven-speed DSG twin-clutch gearbox which can either be driven in fully automatic mode or by using the paddleshifts on the steering wheel to change gear.

Because it uses two clutches the changes are incredibly fast and there's no loss of performance between shifts. It's very smooth too so there's no awkward jerks when changing gear, but while it's an incredibly clever gearbox, it does rob the driver of a sense of involvement which is important in a hot hatch like this. It's simply not as enjoyable as a normal manual gearbox. That said, this suits the more relaxed and grown-up nature of the Fabia vRS compared to hardcore performance alternatives like the Vauxhall Corsa VXR.

On the road the Fabia vRS corners very neatly, thanks to well weighted steering and good body control. There's also an electronic system called XDS which is designed to improve cornering. It uses the ABS to mimic a limited slip differential - so in other words slows down the inside wheel in a bend which makes it more manouevrable and sharper when turning in.

It's certainly an impressive system and in quick corners you'll notice you don't have to work the steering wheel as much, especially useful in tight bends. It means the vRS feels very nimble yet composed and when pushing on, the this gives you plenty of confidence in the Fabia's ability. Despite this, the ride quality is impressive - it's fairly firm as you'd expect, but at the same time not uncomfortable or too stiff. The brakes are very responsive too while all cars come with ESP stability control as standard.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.4 TSI 180 46 mpg 7.3 s 148 g/km
1.4 TSI 180 Estate 46 mpg 7.3 s 148 g/km

Real MPG average for a Skoda Fabia vRS (2010 – 2013)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

30–46 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Skoda Fabia vRS (2010 – 2013)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Are there any small hot estates?

I am currently driving a Skoda Fabia 62-plate 1.4 TSI vRS Estate with the CTHE engine that I have had for about a year. It has done about 30k miles from new. I am looking to replace it with something that has similar engine size and performance and I cannot find anything to match it in today's market (sub £15k). Do you have any recommendations with similar performance, preferably an estate?
My recommendation about this car is to get shot of it as fast as you can before the engine fails. Replace with a Fiesta ST or the not-quite-as-good Polo 1.8 GTi. No hot little estates.
Answered by Honest John
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