REGULAR readers will know that I am partial to a Skoda. Within the currently available range there simply isn’t a bad car. They are all roomy, well priced, well made and well priced so I didn’t expect the new Fabia to let me down. For once, I was right.
I find I am warming to the ever-growing selection of small, good value motors these days. The figure of £10,000 seems to be a bit of a benchmark with many manufacturers striving to introduce models under that figure. The new Skoda Fabia doesn’t quite make it as the base entry-level model tips over that price, but then again, it has an air of quality about it that makes it a cut above the budget motors.
The car is new and not simply a revamp of its now seven-year old predecessor. Sharing components with Volkswagen has made the car lighter and, cleverly, roomier, whilst being very slightly shorter. It is much better looking too with a family resemblance augmented by sharp lines and curves. There’s a good range of colours available with customisable options but I reckon this car looks at its best in brighter hues, like the ‘race blue’ of the featured version.
“There’s even a waste-paper bin and, most importantly, a ticket holder on the windscreen (hooray!)”
Our model came in SE trim with 15” alloys plus options. You can see the full specification below. There’s also the base S version, when prices start at just £10,545 and the range-topping SE L model which could take the price up into the high teens. Frankly, I don’t think it’s necessary to spend that much, when the lower priced versions are so good. If needed there’s also an estate car version.
Sadly, at the time of writing, there is no sign of the tell-tale dust hanging in the air from a rapidly approaching hot hatch vRS example.
UNDER THE BONNET
There’s a good range of engines available to suit all needs. Our model came with the 1.0L three-pot motor with 74bhp. It’s fine and once you’ve wound it up it is reasonably quiet and refined but it takes a while to get up to speed and needs a lot of stirring of the 5-speed manual gearbox to get some action.
Leave performance aside though and most users will be happy with it, especially when they see the return for their petrol money. Even with plenty of the aforementioned stirring, I was recording 45mpg or better whilst emissions are said to be a nicely low 108g/km.
This is this engine to go for if most of your motoring is local or in the city. There is a lower-powered 59bhp version that saves a couple of CO²’s but I suspect that might just be too under-powered.
My choice would be to go for the much more lively 1.2L TSI petrol engine. There’s virtually no penalty and it will make for a more relaxed drive, especially if you opt for the DSG auto ‘box. There’s a couple of versions of a 1.4L turbo-diesel engine but, unless you plan on doing big miles, I’d go for petrol every time.
ON THE INSIDE
Absolutely fine, with smart, comfortable cloth seats and a clean, uncluttered dashboard that has all the basics. Sure, there are no bells and whistles at this price but frankly I found it very refreshing to be in a car that was not bristling with every imaginable gizmo known to man, most of which I would probably never use.
The things that I do want are available though, along with some properly useful options, like the pockets and cubbies we all need.
“Obviously, it isn’t about performance but it is a pleasure to drive.”
There’s even a waste-paper bin and, most importantly, a ticket holder on the windscreen (hooray!), a little touch that most car makers miss, for example.
Our car had a leather steering wheel, basic air-con, which is fine, plus aux and USB sockets. The info screen is easy to use and our car was fitted with Skoda’s ‘SmartGate’ which offers easy to use driving data, Bluetooth and some apps you can connect to via your smartphone. No navigation but that’s no big deal because you can use a ‘phone app, or a 12v plug-in device or even, a hesitate to say it, an actual paper map.
The boot is quite generous at 330 litres; slightly less if you opt for the space-saver spare wheel, which you should. As with the other Skoda models, those handy items crop up again. Buying into the ‘Simply Clever’ option gives you various storage aids to stop everything rolling around in the boot until you get so irritated you have to stop and sort it. Overall, this is a versatile little car.
The Skoda Fabia is a decent drive. Obviously, it isn’t about performance but it is a pleasure to drive. Once rolling it handled well on the DriveWrite country road route and was especially entertaining on the twists and turns as the power steering was nicely weighted, feeling safe and predictable.
There are no fancy suspension, steering or throttle adjustments to make; what you see is what you get, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The ride is fairly soft however and there is some body roll when cornering. What I would do is dip into the options list and specify eighty-five quid’s worth of sports suspension and a bigger wheel option. Most folk though will be perfectly happy.
Overall, I am content. The new Skoda Fabia is well worth the money. Some while ago I almost bought a vRS version of the older model. In the end I didn’t but that was because of a less-than-great dealer experience, not because of the car. Hopefully things like that are now a thing of the past and if I were in the market for a new small car then the Fabia fits the bill.