The 2019 Isle of Man TT Senior winner loves big engines and old vans. Good lad
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£16,060 when new
With a thrummy little four-cylinder petrol engine, the new Fabia is a thoroughly pleasant thing. But this one doesn’t have a little petrol. It has a little diesel. Still a three cylinder, the 1.4-litre delivers 89bhp and 83.1mpg (there’s a version on the way that Skoda claims will hit 88.3mpg, too). So did we see 83.1mpg? No. We managed just under 60mpg after 70 miles of mixed driving, which, given the vagaries of the fuel-test cycle, isn’t bad. Though quiet and tractable in and out of town, it’s the getting up to speed that undoes the diesel. The noise amplifies, and once the power tails off at 3,500rpm, the rev needle moves at a speed best described as archeological. The long gearing doesn’t help. Fifth is best reserved for motorways, and hills often demand a downshift. But so what? It’s a diesel supermini and no less capable than any of its competitors. You soon learn to drive around the engine’s weaknesses and appreciate the Fabia’s strengths, including its solid handling and smart cabin. It’s a quiet and comfortable thing in which to sit at 70 for miles on end, and pretty good in town too. But we’ll take a petrol, please.
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