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The Top Gear car review: Skoda Fabia
For:Immensely sensible, great practicality, excellent value, improved efficiency
Against:Value-brand roots show through in places
1.2 TSI 90 SE 5dr
If you must have a diesel, fine. Otherwise, stick with the petrol.
A solid, stable supermini, but plays it a little too safe for us. The Fiesta is more exciting.
A new suit, much gadgetry, but is the Czech Fiesta rival playing just too safe? Vijay Pattni reports
Hot Fab wagon goes straight to the top of its class. Roomy, fast and practical… it ticks every box.
Can’t stretch to a Polo GTi? Consider this Fabia. Pretty much the same product in a slightly cheaper, ungainly box
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What we say:
Skoda’s taken everything the old fabia did so well and modernised it. The commonsense supermini choice
What is it?
After the Octavia, the Skoda Fabia is the Czech – but wholly VW-owned – brand’s second-best selling model in the UK. This is its third iteration and, like pretty much everything else released by VW Group in the last year, uses elements of the versatile MQB platform. This is Very Good News. It means that though the new Fabia is physically smaller than its predecessor, it’s bigger inside, lighter and, says Skoda, up to 17 per cent more efficient thanks to a new generation of three- and four-cylinder diesel and petrol engines.
Like driving? Head for a Ford Fiesta or Mazda 2 – the Fabia is geared more for tractability and ease of use than outright fun. The ride is smooth, the body well-controlled and the steering light enough to make scything through town and low-speed manoeuvring as easy as. But the chassis simply isn’t as engaging as a Fiesta’s. It’s good, but not that good.
Where the Fabia shines is at the pumps. The most economical 1.4-litre, 89bhp diesel should, says Skoda, manage something north of 83mpg. And there’s an even more economical engine on the way, which should up that figure to 88mpg. It’s the 1.2-litre petrols (ignore the 1.0-litre because it’s simply not powerful enough) that are the pick of the range, though. They’re smoother, not massively less economical and suit the car much better.
On the inside
The Fabia has a thoroughly pleasant cabin. You could quite comfortably while away hours and hours behind the wheel. Every Fabia gets a central touchscreen, which ranges in size from 5in in base trim S cars, to 6.5in in top trim SE L models. MirrorLink, which allows owners of Android phones to mirror certain apps on the Fabia’s own screen, is standard on all but the base trim level. The 330-litre boot is the biggest in class, and there’s at least as much room in the back for passengers as you’d find in a Fiesta. Though smaller outside than the outgoing car, the new Fabia’s cabin is actually more spacious. The cabin is stylish and solid, if not quite a match for the Polo.
The new Fabia, which starts at £10,600, is less expensive than almost all its key rivals bar VW’s own Polo and even base models come with a useful amount of equipment such as air conditioning, Bluetooth, and parking sensors. Residuals are set to be competitive, and running costs should be fairly well contained given its impressive economy and emissions figures. Traditionally, Fabia owners have been a very happy bunch and this all-new one is unlikely to change that. Nice work, Skoda.