Space age Skoda

11 Dec 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Space age Skoda


A Week at the Wheel | Cambs, England | Skoda Fabia 2 1.4 TDI PD 80 |

Skoda’s transformation is as good as complete. The jokes have stopped and the cars are becoming accepted as quality offerings; not just value for money, but genuinely capable cars. There are a few who still dismiss the badge, but they do so at their peril and are missing out on something good while living their blinkered lives basking in snobbery.

Skoda’s previous Fabia scooped an array of awards during its life, and deservedly so. It remained one of our favourite superminis throughout and rattled the cages of many a rival, as well as pummelling many into submission. It’s a sign of the times that this car is eagerly anticipated or worried about, depending on whether you’re a buyer or a competitor.

The external appearance is a subtle, but effective evolution of old. The front end styling, seen first on the Roomster. is carried over almost exactly and the body work is instantly recognisable. However, the Fabia benefits as the first recipient of the new VW Group small car platform set to see service in the next Polo and SEAT Ibiza. Interestingly, the Fabia has only grown in length and more noticeably, height.

Skoda has resisted the urge to make the car much bigger and in many cases the new car is actually lighter than the old one. A refreshing change that bucks recent trends of cars growing and putting on weight.

The profile of the car has been worked on with good effect, the shoulders at the rear adding a deal more presence. The black windscreen pillars, also seen on Roomster, give the illusion of an aircraft-like wraparound screen and an unbroken glasshouse. It’s a subtle effect but one that really marks the car out, as does the C-shaped lighting pattern in the rear clusters.

The A-pillars don’t obscure the view as some rivals do either.

In all departments, the interior is hugely spacious. Legroom is class leading, allowing for adults to be seated in comfort in the front and rear, and the increase in height pays huge dividends in terms of headroom and also the sense of space enjoyed by occupants. The seats are comfortable, if lacking in a little lateral support, and there are a raft of stowage spaces required for practical small family motoring.

The little plastic ring in the boot is perfect for holding a shopping bag size package – a simple but effective addition to the luggage carrying ability. In summary, no rival offers better accommodation than the new Fabia.

The dash layout is fresh, clean and logical with all the controls well positioned and easy to operate. It lacks flair or any true aesthetic drama, but the different layers of colour and material finishes break up the mundane slabs of plastic seen in many rivals and the quality, fit and finish is first class. The Skoda Fabia feels like a solid little car that is built to last and designed to be good to live with.

On the road these positive first impressions are enhanced. The steering wheel is adjustable for both rake and reach, which is rare in this class, and coupled with the range of adjustment on the driver’s seat, ensures an ideal driving position. Once underway the Fabia offers a ride and driving experience more akin to cars several classes up.

The ride in particular is impressively supple and appreciably more comfortable than that of the majority of the class.

Handling is conversely very good and more than capable of putting a smile on the driver’s face, although the excellent ride is unsurprisingly at the expense of some body roll – not many buyers of the basic models will be concerned by this aspect though. The brakes have plenty of feel too and the steering is direct and accurate.

All of the driving controls are light and easy and the Fabia is a doddle to drive as well as being pleasant and quite fun. Under the bonnet of the test car, the three-cylinder diesel we first tested in the Polo does a decent job of pushing the little car along but, as in the Polo, it is not the final word in terms of NVH with excessive vibration through the pedals and steering as well as some being transmitted into the body of the car at times.

It is characterful though and, although lacking in outright grunt, offers adequate performance and good economy. We found it needed to be worked hard to keep up with fast flowing traffic, needing to be revved to give its best and requiring a generous amount of throttle to ensure a smooth getaway at junctions and roundabouts. This was reflected in an average of 45mpg – we couldn’t get anywhere near the 68.9mpg Extra Urban figure claimed by Skoda, even driving more economically.

This 80bhp model is certainly worth the extra £300 over the 70bhp option, as this car is more economical, quicker and offers lower emissions. It also enjoys a significant torque advantage over the lower spec car and given we felt it was only adequate for everyday driving, we don’t think that the lower spec car is worth the saving.

Overall the new Skoda Fabia picks up exactly where the old car left off. It’s no revelation, as we expected it to be a good car; we’re not disappointed. Class leading space, practicality, ride and value will make big inroads in this class.

It goes straight to the head of the supermini field for us. 2007 Skoda Fabia range overview


UK (£ on-the-road)

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