SINCE it was first introduced in 1999, the Skoda Fabia has built a reputation for being reliable, spacious and ‘a lot of car for your money’.
The latest iteration, recently arrived in Cyprus, continues that tradition, and I borrowed a top-of-the-range 1.2 TSI Style DSG variant for the weekend to try it out.
The new car is a little wider and lower than before, with a longer wheelbase, which all translates into rewarding handling: even though it’s only a 1.2 litre engine, there’s plenty of ‘oomph’ when you want it from the 110bhp powertrain.
My test car was equipped with the 7-speed DSG (Direct Shifting Gearbox), and though I could detect the shifts, it was nicely balanced and I rarely clicked it over to manual override.
The Style version interior is pretty classy for a car that costs €15,000; there are decorative chrome elements, everything is clearly laid out and the Sports seats were very comfy, with excellent lumbar and thigh support.
The standard equipment in this specification covers Easy Start, ‘climatronic’ air-conditioning, height-adjustable driver and front passenger seats and leather steering wheel that adjusts for height and reach, so finding a comfortable driving position isn’t a problem.
There are loads of handy storage compartments, including a hinged storage box under both front seats and a sunglasses compartment above the interior rear-view mirror, while the spacious boot can hold 330 litres with the seats up and 1,150 litres with the rear seats folded.
We wondered about the small transparent plastic clip on the inside of the windscreen and apparently it’s a clip to hold your parking ticket where the warden can see it – nice touch!
The multi-function 6.5″ touch-screen display in the centre of the fascia controls the sound system and comes with a USB/Aux-in input jack, a slot for SD cards located in the glove compartment, Bluetooth and ŠKODA Surround sound system which employs six speakers.
Average fuel consumption, average speed, time and outside temperature can all be viewed in the centre of the driver display.
This third-generation Fabia is some 65kg lighter than its predecessor, and this weight saving can be felt in the car’s responsiveness. It also impacts fuel consumption, which comes in at 4.7 litres per 100 km (4.8l/100km on the variants without the DSG transmission). This is also helped by the Start-Stop system, which saves fuel by automatically switching off the engine when idle. The new Fabia version even responds to different preset situations for increased fuel efﬁciency.
There are plenty of safety features: the car has been awarded a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating. All versions get six airbags, stability control, seatbelt reminders and low-speed collision avoidance kit, while the flagship model adds automatic lights and wipers.
The entry level version comes with a three cylinder 999cc petrol powertrain delivering 75 bhp, with a maximum speed of 175 km/h and acceleration from 0–100 km/h in 14.7 seconds. Emissions are 108 g/km.
My test car had the 1,197cc turbocharged petrol engine with high pressure direct injection system, delivering 175 nm of torque at 1400 revs, acceleration to 100 km/h in 9.4 seconds (pretty good for a 1.2 litre unit) and a top speed of 199 km/h.
The pick-up as you hit the pedal is pretty instantaneous, and when I flung it round sharp bends it hugged the road nicely with no roll or discernable understeer.
The suspension is rather firm, which is especially noticeable when going over sleeping policemen and raised zebra crossings, when the bumps are transmitted into the cockpit, but other than that it’s a comfortable ride, and the car feels roomier than its size would suggest.
The Cruise Control is one of the simplest I’ve come across, and there’s a speed limit warning bell so if you go over a set speed you hear a loud ‘ding’ to alert you. My car had obviously been set by the garage at 120km/h and I welcomed the alert as it’s easy on long highway journeys to slip over the speed you want.
The original Fabia was responsible for changing our view of Skoda from ‘joke’ status to credibility as a serious contender in the small car market and the new range continues that success story.
Prices start at €11,000 for the entry level 1-litre variant, up to €15,000 for the 1.2 TSI with DSG.