Borrowing a few of the Roomster's less radical design ideas to tart up that frumpy exterior, the latest evolution of the Skoda Fabia is an unexpectedly good-looking thing.
Inside it's a less tarty, but similarly sure-footed improvement too. Very solid, logical and sensible, and presumably only held back by some stiffs at Volkswagen HQ ensuring it doesn't outdo the Polo with which it shares its vitals.
But they should be worrying more about the powertrains. The one in here is a 1.4 TDI PD, a modest three-cylinder lump with just 80bhp and 144lb ft of torque. It rattles something rotten (like every other three-pot diesel on the market) and it's almost a grand more expensive than the equivalent petrol, but the idea here is to concentrate on fuel economy and emissions.
A claimed 61.4mpg on the combined cycle is great, while 120g/km of CO² puts this Fabia in the lowest tax bracket.
But it also means that you can't pull away without sounding and feeling like you're going to stall. So utterly bereft of go is the 1.4 TDI that we struggled to strike a balance between stutter and tyre squeal, countering what feels like way too little throttle by feeding in too much.
It's unnerving initially, and finally just thoroughly irritating. Putting economy before tractability in any car means letting the tail wag the dog.