SKODA “new” FABIA
I guess we have to be up front here. We all have cars we like and cars we don’t like and so it’s difficult sometimes to be objective and to put aside your own personal feelings when you are writing a road test. Most times we achieve that and we call it as we see it warts and all.
Well in the case of the Skoda Fabia we aren’t even going to try and hide the way we feel, as we just think this is a super little car, plain and simple.
It doesn’t seem possible now, but just a few years back, people were making Skoda jokes, but a string of superbly built attractive, reliable and value for money vehicles have made us all stop laughing and start listening to Skoda who are giving us Volkswagen quality products at a bargain basement price and you know what, that has to be a good deal. You only have to look at the growth of Skoda in the UK, particularly in the business sector where experienced fleet managers know a good deal when they see one. You only have to look at those that work in the industry or write about cars, all of which praise Skoda.
We feel that the values which for 50 years have motivated millions of drivers to buy a Volkswagen have moved on and are now alive and well and are living in Skoda, in fact, we will go one step further than that as we think Volkswagen no longer have those values (although they would say otherwise), they’ve grown (for example they now offer a £74,000 Phaeton in their range) hardly the peoples car. As such, the spiritual home of the typical VW driver who is looking for a great value car that is reliable, practical and easy to live with is now with Skoda.
For model after model, Skoda have raised the bar and moved the goal posts and given those car buyers who were smart enough to recognise it, a “Waitrose” product at a “Tesco” price and that’s been reflected in record UK sales in 2007 with over 40,000 Skoda’s being sold in the UK for the first time ever and that growth shows no sign of stopping.
We were fortunate enough to travel to Skoda’s own back yard and to Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic to test the new Fabia over a mix of very different roads and different driving conditions and whilst we could have written our report based upon those tests alone, we decided we would wait until we could test a new Fabia for a longer time, back here on UK roads.
Starting at a touch under £8000 for the Fabia 1 Hatch with the 1.2 60ps petrol engine and going up to over £13,000 for the Fabia 3 with the 105ps 1.9 diesel, the Fabia certainly has the bases covered in terms of spec and price, offering 15 different variants available and 8 engine choices.
Externally, you have to say it’s a pretty car and in the right colour and if you choose the white roof option, is stunning looking little car. The paintwork is superb, and the build quality is flawless, the panel gaps are tight and accurate and the new Fabia just looks so really well put together.
As soon as you jump in, you are impressed with how roomy and airy the car is and there is a real feeling of space and don’t forget, this car is described as a super-mini. The high roof gives you super head room so if you’re thinking of doing a Full Monty, you can as they say “keep your hat on “.
I don’t quite how Skoda manage achieve it, but you instantly feel at home and relaxed behind the wheel of the new Fabia, perhaps it’s the space and superb glass area, or maybe it’s just that you sit pretty high, so can see everything around you? What ever it is, it works and works well.
Inside the car it’s got all the normal stuff like rake and reach adjustable steering and the instrumentation is clear and well placed. There aren’t too many plush bits, apart from the top of the dash, but the trim just looks well made and well put together and it all looks top quality. The fabrics used for the seats and headlining look expensive and as if they are going to last and even the colour combinations are very tasteful.
On the road, we tried a number of different Fabia’s across various models and engines and all of them felt really solid and all were rattle free. Being honest, we preferred the car with either the little 1.2-litre, 12-valve petrol, or with the 1.4 three-cylinder turbodiesel, whose 1.4 litres produce either 69 or 80bhp according to model chosen. Whilst the 1.4 and 1.6 petrol units and 1.9 diesel are just fine, we felt the car was better suited to the smaller units.
In terms of economy, the new Fabia is ultra cheap to run, with the 1.4 80ps Diesel returning a frugal 61.4mpg average whilst chucking out just 120g/km CO2. The lower power diesel claims 58.9mpg average while the 1.2 petrol engines produce a little higher CO2 at 140g/km and deliver an average mpg of 47.9
We have all seen the Skoda TV ad with the Fabia being made out of cake and I guess that leads us on to asking the question is it going to be a piece of cake to sell it in the UK? Well there is stacks of competition in this “super-mini” sector of the market place in the £8,000 upward region from cars such as Corsa, Clio, Punto, Fiesta etc, and of course, the 8k price tag can go up to £13,000 for a top of the range model.
I guess therefore it depends on if your decision is that you need a super-mini, or that you just need as much car as you can get for your money. If it’s a super-mini you want, well buy a Fabia, you would be doing right thing, because it is a great car. But if it’s bang for your buck you are looking for and you’ve got a range topping £13,000 to spend, you could move away from the super mini sector into something a bit bigger, I guess it depends on if you need a larger car?
In summary, the new Skoda Fabia is a high quality, functional, unpretentious car for rationally minded people, which kind of sounds like the values the old VW customer might just have had. This new Fabia as I said earlier, moves the goal posts and will leave other manufacturers struggling to keep up and I just wish those of you that have hang-ups about the Skoda brand could open your eyes and see the product for what it is which is one of the best little cars that money can buy.
Would I buy one myself? Well a very long term friend outside the motor trade asked my opinion as to what he should buy and it should be enough for you to know that he took delivery of his Fabia 2 a couple of months ago and he’s loving it.
For a quotation on the new Fabia or any other Skoda, please contact us.