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Skoda Fabia vRS: Buying guide and review (2010-2014)

Skoda Fabia vRS: Buying guide and review (2010-2014) Classic and Performance Car
Skoda Fabia vRS Skoda Fabia vRS Skoda Fabia vRS Skoda Fabia vRS Skoda Fabia vRS Skoda Fabia vRS
The original Skoda Fabia vRS came right out of left field. Introduced in 2003, it provided a genuinely alternative take on the hot hatch thanks to a torque-laden 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine that endowed the previously eminently ignorable Fabia with surprising pace combined with pleasing frugality. We loved it, as did its owners. 
 
When Skoda introduced its replacement in the summer of 2010, there was a slight sense of disappointment that it had gone for petrol power (no, really, there was). Not that the power unit was entirely conventional, being the VW Group’s 1.4 TSI ‘Twincharger’ engine – featuring both a turbo and a supercharger. Very effective it was, too, producing 178bhp in a pleasingly linear manner, and with a nifty seven-speed DSG gearbox as standard it was enough for a 0-62mph time of 7.3sec and 139mph. It was the fastest Fabia yet, and if it lacked the final sprinkling of magic that, say, a Renault Sport hatch might possess, it was a very decent all-round package.
 
Well-equipped, too. As well as DSG, you got plenty of toys including air con, excellent vRS-branded sports seats, eye-catching 17in Gigaro alloys (painted black as an option) and the option to have a black or white painted roof. At £15,500 it was good value, and for a further £795 you could have it as an estate.
 
Pretty soon after the Mk2 vRS’s launch, stories began to emerge of excessive oil consumption and, in some cases, engines requiring rebuilds or even replacements. Browse the internet and you’ll find plenty of tales of woe. In truth, the picture is nowhere near as bleak as it might appear, but there have been real issues with the twincharger engine, and it pays to approach Fabia vRS ownership with your eyes wide open.
 
A warranty could be worthwhile for peace of mind. The standard Skoda manufacturer’s warranty was three years long, with the option to add an extra two years. If you can find a car with the balance of the manufacturer warranty, that’s obviously well worth having. Dealer and third-party warranties are also available. As you’ll see, they could prove a wise investment.
 

Performance and specs

 
Engine  In-line four-cylinder, 1390cc, twincharger
Power 178bhp @ 6200rpm
Torque 184lb ft @ 2000-4500rpm
Transmission Seven-speed DSG, front-wheel drive
0-62mph 7.3sec (claimed)
Top speed 139mph (claimed)
Insurance group   27
Price when new £15,500 (2010)
 

Dimensions and weight

 
Wheelbase            2454mm
Length 4029mm
Width 1642mm
Height 1494mm
Weight 1218kg
 

Common problems

 
• Spend time researching twincharger engines online and you might get the impression that every vRS is a ticking bomb. As ever, that’s not the whole story, although Ed Jackson at VW Group specialist APS confirms that a significant number – mostly early engines, coded CAVE – suffer excessive oil consumption caused primarily by defective pistons. 
 
• Another common issue is misfiring, often linked to problems with PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) pushing oil into the intake. The worst cases have seen engine failures, necessitating a replacement engine. 
 
• A substantially revised 1.4 TSI (engine code CTHE) was introduced late in 2012 and addressed many of the problems. A sticker at the bottom of the driver’s door pillar will tell you which engine you’ve got. According to the guys at briskoda.net, of the 2900 or so Mk2 vRSs sold in the UK, around 1800 had the CAVE engine and around 1100 the CTHE. They estimate that up to a third of the pre-2012 engines have suffered issues. With the later unit, the numbers are nowhere near as high.
 
• ‘Obviously you’re better going for the later engine,’ says Ed. ‘That said, if an early engine has now done 50,000 miles without problems, then it’s probably going to be OK. Look for a film of oil in the exhaust, or oil spray on the back of the car after a run. And if there’s an oil container in the boot, that’s probably a sign it needs regular topping up!’
 
• There’s quite a bit you can do to guard against future problems. Doing lots of short journeys is best avoided. Changing the spark plugs every two years or 20,000 miles, using good-quality oil and checking it regularly, and also using good-quality fuel – all these things can help.
 
• The engine is receptive to tuning – remaps are widely available, as are cold-air intakes and freer-breathing exhausts – but this can exacerbate any problems, so modified engines need meticulous upkeep.
 
• The seven-speed DSG gearbox is generally rugged. A small number of cars did experience an issue with the mechatronic unit, leading to a loss of drive. 
 
• There was a service campaign, 34F7, starting in spring 2014, to change the gear oil from synthetic to mineral oil, with a software update at the same time. Skoda dealers should be able to confirm if the car you’re looking at should have had the service action. Look for a note in the service book, and/or a sticker in the wheel-well in the boot, for evidence that it’s been done. 
 
• On the test drive, try the ’box in both modes (Sport locks out seventh gear) and check for smooth, precise changes with no low-speed judders.
 
• No particular issues with suspension, steering, brakes, so any clonks or creaks are signs that the car hasn’t been that well cared for.
 
• As you may have surmised, any warning lights should be thoroughly investigated, and it’s worth having the ECU read for fault codes. 
 

The rivals

 
 
The Clio 197’s nat-asp engine has more power but less torque than the twincharged Fabia. £4k-8k gives you plenty to choose from, including Cup models. It also buys you a 182 Trophy…
 
 
Between 2010 and 2014 the Polo used the same 178bhp 1.4 TSI engines as the Fabia, though performance stats were marginally better. You pay a premium for the badge, with prices starting at £8k.
 
 
The R56 Cooper S (2006-14) has similar power (173-181bhp) and performance to the Fabia in a cuter bodyshell, but also has its own engine issues, so buy carefully. They start from around £5k.
 

Summary and prices

 
Cars from 2010/11 with average-to-high miles and a full service history start at around £5500. Similar cars at dealers (so usually carrying a warranty) generally cost about a grand more. At the upper end, £8000 gets you a late car (with the revised engine) with low miles and just one or two owners. Estates are rare and command a small premium.
 
All Fabia vRSs were well equipped as standard, but black roofs (an optional extra at around £450 when new) and black wheels are sought after, as are heated seats.
 
Words: Peter Tomalin
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Last updated: 10th May 2017
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Skoda Fabia
1990 8995 GBP
  • SKODA FABIA 1.4 VRS DSG Auto

    £7,950 £7,950

    Type: Used Year: 2012 Make: SKODA Model: FABIA Trim: 1.4 VRS DSG Auto Body: Station Wagon Trans: Automatic Mileage: 38691 Engine Size: 1390 Ext Color: Green

    • Mileage: 38691 mi
    • Engine size: 1390
    For sale
    £7,950 £7,950
    Westwood Car & Commercial Ltd
    01476452345 View contact number
  • SKODA FABIA VRS DSG Auto Low Miles Heated Seats Original Car 2011

    £5,995 £5,995

    SKODA Fabia VRS DSG Auto Low Miles Heated Seats Original Car finished in Silver (Auto), 48,000 miles, First three services carried out by dealer and recent service by owner. we will be servicing and MOT testing the car at point of sale. excellent condition inside and out, must be seen! Call us today to arrange a viewing!;;Only GBP 5,995 Or Finance Available, Apply on our website today!;;viewing is by appointment only, please call the mobile number shown at the top of our website to arrange a time, we welcome evening and weekend appointments.;;all our vehicles include a three month comprehensive in house warranty(details available upon request) nationwide warranties available at cost price!;;part exchange welcome, we can also settle any finance on your current vehicle.;;many finance options available whether your credit rating is good or bad, we will do our best to get you on the road!;;all major credit and debit cards accepted, (Credit card fees apply.);;All our cars are HPI clear with certificate. Call us : 02392 861731 or 07794 358206

    • Mileage: 48000 mi
    • Engine size: 1.39
    For sale
    £5,995 £5,995
  • SKODA FABIA VRS DSG 2014

    £7,995 £7,995

    Upgrades - Telephone Preparation GSM II with Bluetooth, Paint Metallic, 6 months warranty, 12 months MOT, Full dealership history, Black Cloth interior, Standard Features - Sunset Glass, 17in Gigaro Alloys Wheels 7J x 17in (205/40 R17 84W), Electric Front Windows, Category 1 Alarm with Tilt Sensor, Tyre Pressure Monitor (TPM), HHC (Hill Hold Control), MDI (Multi Device Interface), Radio Swing - 2 DIN with Single CD (MP3 Recordings), 3.5mm Auxiliary Socket, MDI (Multi Device Interface), Sunset Glass (from B Pillar Back), 3 - Spoke Leather Steering Wheel, ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System), Body Coloured Bumpers, Black Roof Rails, Child locks and Isofix system, Daytime Running Lights, Traction control, vRS Sport Seats with Logo, Multi-Function Steering Wheel with Paddles and Controls for Audio. 5 seats, Metallic Blue, A Very Nice Clean Example, Full Service History, 12 Months MOT, 6 Months Warranty, Bluetooth Phone System, Front Fog Lights, Rear Parking Sensors, Worth A Look,

    • Mileage: 45500 mi
    • Engine size: 1.39
    For sale
    £7,995 £7,995
  • Skoda Fabia

    £2,695 £2,695

    Skoda Fabia Vrs TDi 1.9 5dr 2006 PlateMOT 12 September 2018Top of the line diesel! Goes like a train, lots of history, long MOT, These are lovely to drive. Great on fuel, fantastic, fun little car.Lots of other cars available, call 02392617444

    • Mileage: 130000 mi
    • Engine size: 1896
    For sale
    £2,695 £2,695
  • SKODA FABIA VRS TDI 2005

    £2,000 £2,000

    SKODA Fabia VRS TDI finished in Silver (Manual), 130,000 miles with grey/black cloth interior only 1 previous owner from new.SOMETHING A BIT DIFFERENT FROM THE NORM' THIS GREAT LOOKING LITTLE HATCH HAS THE ROOF PAINTED IN THE vRS COLOURS (GREEN, RED AND BLACK WITH THE MIRRORS IN THE SAME GREEN ! ) *** WILL BE SOLD WITH A NEW MOT AND HAVE A 3 MONTH WARRANTY ***;NEW CLUTCH THIS YEAR ***;WE ACCEPT DEBIT/CREDIT CARDS AND FINANCE MAY BE POSSIBLE ***;PX IS WELCOMED AS IS ANY TRIAL ***;MOBILE 07850 76:12:76 NICK ****;;Only GBP 2,000;;

    • Mileage: 130000 mi
    • Engine size: 1.896
    For sale
    £2,000 £2,000