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Skoda Fabia review: 4.0/5

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Out is the awkward image of the old Skoda Fabia and in is a car that is as smart as its new appearance.

Dave Humphreys

Words: - @LordHumphreys

Published on: November 9, 2014

Words: - @LordHumphreys

Published on: November 9, 2014

Tech Specs

Model testedSkoda Fabia 1.2 TSI 90hp
Price€18,195 as tested (Fabia range starts at €13,895)
Engine1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmissionfront-wheel drive, five-speed manual
Body stylefive-door hatchback
AlternativesFord Fiesta, Hyundai i20, Opel Corsa
CO2 emissions107g/km (Band A3, €190 per annum)
Combined economy60.1mpg (4.7 litres/100km)
Top speed182km/h
0-100km/h10.9 seconds
Power90hp at 4,400- 5,400 rpm
Torque160Nm at 1,400- to 3,500rpm

Overall rating: 4/5

Adopting a fresh new look that mimics the rest of the current Skoda line-up, the new Fabia grows modestly in width giving more space inside, while shrinking in height to give it better looking proportions.

In the Metal:

The previous Skoda Fabia was always an awkward looking car and towards the end of its run looked increasingly dated in comparison to its competition. With this new model Skoda has addressed these issues to create a car that is lighter, wider and lower than the model it replaces - the latter being the most significant change.

Style-wise the Fabia bears the sharp lines that have now become a familiar sight on Skoda models. Its front is dominated by the signature Skoda grille design, which is flanked on either side by headlight units that feature LEDs on all but the entry-level 'Active' trim. Its five-door layout allows for easy access for rear passengers who get headroom that is almost the same level as the front-seat occupants, while the overall width increase of 35mm allows for more room in the back, though it is still tight for three adults. The extra width has allowed for an increase in boot capacity to 330 litres, which can be increased to 1,150 litres by folding down the rear seats.

The designers have taken asimple approach to the layout of the dashboard, which now features a new touch screen infotainment system on all but the lowest trim levels. Fit and finish throughout looks and feels of a very high standard for the segment, and the optional additions of features such as a panoramic glass roof and keyless entry and ignition will appeal to those who appreciate their creature comforts.

Cosmetically, buyers will have a wide choice of hues to choose from, while Skoda is also offering the option of contrasting roof and A-pillar paint colours, as well as painted alloy wheels to allow for greater levels of personalisation. And taking the personal touch one step further, Skoda will even screen print a photo of your family, pet dog or favourite place onto the dashboard facia.

Driving it:

For the new Fabia Skoda has raided the stores in the Volkswagen Group, cherry-picking some of the best MQB (the platform that underpins a wide variety of models) parts and combining them with its own designs to create the new car. The new platform also has a longer wheelbase, which, in addition to freeing up more room inside, helps to give the car more stability on the road. Lowering the overall height of the car also contributes to a lower centre of gravity.

The 1.2-litre TSI petrol engine we tested might not be the most popular choice given the smaller 1.0-litre engine's asking price, but considering there are no savings to be made when it comes to road tax, the added power and torque of the larger engine isn't something to be ignored.

On both motorway and around town the Fabia performs well, with suspension that manages to dampen most of the surface imperfections without being bounced all over the road. Its steering is light and most will appreciate the ease at which it can be parked.

What you get for your Money:

Skoda is going into the market with all guns blazing in relation to price and specification. Both entry level Active and mid-range Ambition trim levels have risen in price in comparison to their direct predecessors by €100 and €500 respectively, but both models do now come with higher levels of equipment, especially the Ambition version.

You won't feel short-changed by opting for a mid-level specification, but if the budget permits, spending the extra money to go to the Style trim level does leave you with a rather appealing car, and if you choose the smaller 60hp 1.0-litre engine, you'll technically be saving just over €1,000 on equipment.

Worth Noting

For more enthusiastic drivers that may be holding out for a Fabia RS version, the word coming down the line from Skoda HQ is that it won't happen this time around.

Summary

In many ways the new Fabia is exactly what we expected from Skoda, and the new car troubles its rivals when it comes to finances as much it does with its on-road dynamics. The overall quality continues to improve and with sensible jumps between trim levels it stands a high chance of winning over more new customers than before.



Tech Specs

Model testedSkoda Fabia 1.2 TSI 90hp
Price€18,195 as tested (Fabia range starts at €13,895)
Engine1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmissionfront-wheel drive, five-speed manual
Body stylefive-door hatchback
AlternativesFord Fiesta, Hyundai i20, Opel Corsa
CO2 emissions107g/km (Band A3, €190 per annum)
Combined economy60.1mpg (4.7 litres/100km)
Top speed182km/h
0-100km/h10.9 seconds
Power90hp at 4,400- 5,400 rpm
Torque160Nm at 1,400- to 3,500rpm