Skoda Fabia vRS TDI | Shed of the Week

Fast, frugal, fun and, er, cheap, the first Fabia vRS is the ideal pocket rocket Shed

By Tony Middlehurst / Friday, 2 December 2022 / Loading comments

Shed is a keen amateur astronomer. His telescope is old and not entirely straight but with the right handling and a bit of lubrication it still elongates OK. The village postmistress likes it. In fact, she gave him a tripod. He is hoping that she will soon also give him something to rest his telescope on.

Anyway, Shed got quite a shock the other night while he was peering down his partially extended instrument. There seemed to be a full moon even though no such celestial event was scheduled. Turned out Mrs Shed was standing at the bottom of the garden, facing away from the house, when a gust of wind blew her skirt up to create very much the wrong kind of full moon.

Dodgy undercarriages have, over the years, prevented many an otherwise worthy Shed from making it into our weakly selection of sub-£1,500 scrapyard avoiders. This week’s was going to be an Alfa Brera JTDM at a remarkable price of £1,350. Unfortunately, it was snapped up on day one of its exposure on PH classifieds, presumably to reappear on another dealer’s website soon with a 2 or even a 3 replacing the 1 at the start of its price.

The spectre of creeping corrosion on the Alfa’s MOT history suggests a bullet dodged, however, and it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good because breezing in to replace it is this gen-one Fabia vRS. Plenty of miles on the clock at 177k, but the 1.9 turbodiesel is a legendary lump rightly famed for its strength and longevity and with a few quid spent you could end up with a pocket battleship that will embarrass a lot of higher profile motors.

The official vRS output of 130hp might not seem a vast amount, but combined with 229lb ft it’s enough to give this 1,315kg hatch a low 9-second 0-60 time, a 128mph top speed and better 50-70mph performance than a BMW 330i. And that’s just the beginning with one of these. Tuning options are rife. A £300 stage 1 remap sticking with the standard components will produce around 180hp and 290lb ft. Switching to a front-mounted intercooler and an uprated turbo will take power beyond 250hp. With all or any of this happening the clutch will become the weakest link, but beefier replacements from the likes of Sachs are readily available at prices from £320, so your total battleship spend including the purchase price of £1,500 could be not much more than £2k.

Looking at the sensible stuff, in standard tune you can expect an easy 50mpg and that won’t change much even if you stump up for some tuning. The annual tax rate is affordable too at £165 or so.

This is a private sale. The ad is well written and information rich. A lot of money has been spent on regular servicing and there’s lots of life left in the cambelt and tyres. The MOT runs to next October, with just a degraded CV boot and a rusty exhaust box mentioned by the tester. Other things that might go wrong on these little fellas include drop links and anti-roll bar bushes, failing battery fuses and earth cables, leaks from the bottom corners of the radiator, and worn cams and tappets if the correct PD oil hasn’t been used. Power steering can become troublesome if the battery isn’t in good nick.

Having spent some of its life in the damp environment of Scot Land, this Skoda hasn’t escaped the rust, but the structural rot that was mentioned in the October test fail has been cut out of both sills leaving the next owner with just a few non-structural bits on the front arches, door bottoms and the tailgate to attend to. One Sunday morning with an abrasive flap wheel and a couple of rattlecans of paint and lacquer should do it. We have to remember that these are old cars now, but as the postmistress says as she whips out a fresh flap for Shed, age is just a number.

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