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The Top Gear car review:Skoda Fabia
What is it like on the road?
There are four engine options for this ‘new’ Fabia, none diesel and none with more than three-cylinders or over 1.0-litre capacities. 59 and 74bhp versions do without turbocharging and are supplied with a five-speed manual gearbox. We haven’t tried them, but with 0-62mph times of 16.6 and 14.9 seconds respectively, they’re best ignored. Because ain’t nobody got time for that. They’re not even any more economical than either of the two turbocharged engines. The 59bhp motor won’t be available until later this year, so prices and economy figures haven’t been released, but the 74bhp car only manages 57.7mpg.
A 94bhp turbocharged variant, which with claimed economy figures of 61.4mpg/106g/km makes for the most economical Fabia, also gets a five-speed manual transmission. It does 0-62mph in an acceptable 10.8 seconds. Only the range-topping 109bhp variant gets six-speeds and the option of an automatic – a seven-speed dual-clutch – for a premium of around £1,000. It manages 60.1mpg regardless of which gearbox you go for, but choose the auto and the 0-62mph time rises from 9.6 to 10.1 seconds, and the CO2 emissions from 106 to 107g/km.
Of the four engines, Skoda expects the 94bhp version to be the biggest seller in the UK. We tried it alongside the more powerful 109bhp model, and can confirm that yes, it is the one you ought to buy. Not fast, by any stretch of the imagination, but entirely adequate in a car like this. It’s not as involving or willing an engine as Ford or PSA’s triples, but it’s as (if not more) smooth and refined. Most people won’t feel the extra 15bhp of the 109bhp version, so that’s really only worth going for if you want the option of an automatic gearbox. Both manual and automatic gearboxes do the job just fine – though the auto doesn’t come with paddles, is a bit lazy and so feels much more at home when you’re just tooling about.
That’s what the Fabia’s for, really. Small, light, slow cars like the Fabia are inherently fun for all kinds of reasons, but this is not a car you’ll enjoy driving quickly in the same way you might a Ford Fiesta or Seat Ibiza. There’s very little to the steering, and the chassis isn’t the most involving we’ve come across. Comfortable, though, with a good driving position, decent seats and a well-damped ride. The Estate, which Skoda says about 30 per cent of people go for, feels a little heavier and less wieldy, but for the most part much the same as the smaller, lighter hatchback.