Skoda Fabia 1.2 TSI 90PS SE L
Once upon a time, there was Skoda pre Volkswagen Group & they had a car called the Favorit, which was sold in the UK from 1987 – 1995. This was Skodas first front wheel drive car & contained it’s first transversely mounted engine, i.e at the front. Then Skoda introduced the Felicia, which took the brand even closer to it’s competitors in build quality & style. Neither however, sold in any great volume to the UK car buying public
Then in 2000, Skoda now part of the VAG Group, launched the Fabia Mk 1 & with a series of very clever advertising, Volkswagens backing & Skodas legendary reliablity, catapaulted the brand into the mainstream. Skoda followed the Fabia up with the Octavia & superb Superb as w2ell as the funky Yeti & Rapid models & in the last ten years has grown from 1980’s laughing stock, into a seriously good franchise, retaining Skodas loyal customer base & adding buyers particularly in the fleet sector, with their value for money pricing hitting just the right note as the world entered a long term recession.Now the recession is over & Skoda have launched a Fabia Mk 3, which looks like a beefier version of it;s predecessor & already it’s the recipient of the What Car Car of the Year Award for 2015.
Skoda sent CCV the model most likely to be their best seller in the UK the 1.2 TSI 90 ps petrol model, to road test. My test car offered 89 bhp from it’s 1.2 litre engine but felt more powerful, particularly with it’s throaty engine noise & a 0 – 62 mph time of 10.9 seconds . However it also offered a fleet-friendly combined fuel economy of 60.1 mpg & CO2 emissions of 107g/km.
The SE L model was very well kitted out & had on board a 3-spoke multi-function steering wheel with radio & telephone control, 16″ Rock alloys, 6 loudspeakers, acoustic rear parking sensors, an Arkamys surround sound package, Bluetooth, climate control, cruise control, a DAB radio, electric front windows, leather gear shift & hand brake, 7 a tyre pressure monitoring system. Safety matches cars several models further up the food chain & includes ESC, ABS, MSR, ASR, EDS & HBA, curtain airbags, driver & front passenger airbags & a speed limiter.
The Fabia Mk1 was a far more attractive car to look at than the Mk2 launched in 2007. So, in an attempt to shake off the Fabia’s plain, sensible image, Skoda has given the Mk3 car a more distinctive look. At the front, the newcomer shares its large grille and headlamp design with the Octavia & the Rapid, while sharp creases cut into the flanks give it a more squat and sporty stance than its upright predecessor. These changes aren’t big , but the new model is definitely sexier to look at & commands a longer look than it’s predecessor & is certainly more dynamic than before. Skoda customers shouldn’t worry too much though as it’s still errs on the conservative compared with other models in this sector.
Inside the Fabia has a modern, straightforward design. The centre of the central console looks like it has been lifted from a 5 year old Audi which has to be a good thing & the fitting of a metallic grey trim insert that runs across the dash does lift this Fabia to new heights of interior quality. The dials, climate control & standard touchscreen have a simple, easy to use layout, reminiscent of those found on the Latest VW & SEAT ranges.In fact, the rest of the switchgear is shared with the latest VW Polo which makes it feel solid with a precise action.
The old Fabias always offered class-leading space & this new version is no different, with a roomy 330-litre boot growing to 1,150 litres with the 60:40 split rear bench folded flat. However, the £100 space saver spare wheel cuts these figures to 305 and 1,125 litres. Rear legroom is good enough for a six-foot tall passenger to just about sit behind a six foot driver & there’s more than enough headroom and plenty of shoulder room,. I doubt though, that you could squeeze three people in the back. There’s also some additional useful storage, with underset draws under the front seats, decent sized door bins & two cup holders. A £65 option the ‘ Simply Clever’ storage pack fitted to my model, added a boot net, smartphone holder and waste bin for the front door pocket. And don’t forget Sodas clever boot bottle/welly holder., perfect for stopping those six bottle soft wine from rolling about your boot on the way back from the supermarket.
Although the 1.2 engine is quite noisy, it’s a far from an unpleasant noise, more of a small growl, which hits all the right notes when your in the drivers seat & I didn’t find it intrusive whilst in the cabin.Under the skin, the new Fabia uses a heavily reworked version of the old car’s underpinnings, plus one or two features from the new MQB architecture that has already appeared on the larger Octavia. As a result, it’s slightly wider and lower than before, while its wheelbase is fractionally longer. More importantly, the third-generation model is around 65kg lighter than its predecessor & this weight saving can be felt immediately, as the Fabia responds eagerly, turning into corners sharply and benefiting from plenty of grip. The steering is also positive and well weighted, while body roll is reasonably well controlled. It feels more sporty than it actually is, which for a car of this size is no bad thing.
It does however, need a bit of working to keep up with fast moving traffic & if you want to get close to the claimed mpg, you can at least do that by driving this model for fun as I did, like a small nippy city car, as in my mostly urban week, I returned an acceptable
Overall, I liked the Fabia Mk3 in it’s 1.2 petrol guise. I really enjoyed driving it & it’s city handling, reminded me very much of the small cars I drove in the early 1990’s. The added bonus here is that the Fabia 1.2 likes the motorway, is fantastically well equipped, will be incredibly reliable & won’t cost the earth. No wonder What Car liked it so much !
From a company car perspective, the Fabia is definitely a winner although one should priorly wait for the diesel Greenline version launched later in 2015 which will allegedly average 90 mpg on the combined cycle. Let’s wait & see shall we.
Overall an Antonín Panenka 4/5.