What is it like on the inside?
Skoda has tried for a bit of interior flair with the Fabia, but it all comes off a bit like your dad in trainers. There’s Fabia branding along the instrument binnacle that feels out of place for its brashness, and design details around the air vents that look like they should do something, but don’t.
There’s a strip of ‘look at me’ stitched fabric and coloured plastic that spans the middle of the dashboard – its job seems to be to distract from iffier materials elsewhere, but by and large the Fabia is a great place to spend time in. There’s plenty of space, some clever interior touches and a giant touchscreen. What more could you want in a modern runabout?
Skoda claims the Fabia’s boot is the largest in the segment at 380 litres, and it’s certainly roomy back there. Seats down you’ve 1,190 litres to play with. There are a variety of cubbies and storage bins around the cabin, none of which are particularly envelope-pushing in terms of size. That is, until you get to the details, which Skoda is probably better at than any other manufacturer.
Yes, but what about the ice scraper?
Someone at the company has counted 42 of its ‘Simply Clever’ solutions in the new Fabia, with four of them making their debut on the car. Old favourites include the ice scraper in the fuel flap (complete with tyre tread depth gauge) and the umbrella hidden in the door.
The new features include an elastic loop in the storage area in front of the gearstick that will hold your pen. That’s next to a little clip to hold your car park ticket. You can get a removable cupholder between the front seats (not sure what the point of that one is) and rear passengers have the option of a removable box in the transmission tunnel for squirrelling away small items. That’s before we’ve even got started on the wealth of elasticated fun you can have in the boot.
The heated windscreen and wheel are welcome options that have trickled down from larger cars, as well as the 10.25in digital instrument panel and LED ambient lighting.
Do we need to talk about the infotainment?
It always comes round to the touchscreen when you’re talking about a Volkswagen Group product these days. The infotainment screen starts out at 3.5in as standard, working its way proportionally up in size as you ascend the range through 6.5in, 8.0in and the top-spec 9.2in unit. In that last one gesture control becomes standard and you can spec a digital voice assistant – Laura – who speaks 15 languages. You’d think she could have got herself a better job with skills like that.
We tried out the 9.2in screen, which mostly avoids the pitfalls of other VW Group products. There are buttons for all the things you’d like buttons for, and the touchscreen itself is responsive and useful, with the opportunity for personalisation. There are a few gripes – you turn the aircon on by twisting the temperature knob, but to change the fan speed you have to press the menu button and finish your business on the screen. Perhaps Skoda is assuming we’re all auto people.
The two-spoke steering wheel is a pleasantly sculptural affair, with buttons to cover off your audio and cruise control whims, but if you want to change the information displayed in the digital instrument panel… yes, you’ve got to do it in the touchscreen. Overall though, the digital instrument display is decent and works well with the nav.