Despite it all, you have to love the Škoda Fabia
Car Model Reviewed: Škoda Fabia SE L 1.0 TSI 110 PS DSG
Like all of its predecessors since Methuselah was pottering around in one, the latest, refreshed Fabia still has the outward aesthetic appeal of the cold-water tank in the back of the loft. It still radiates all the charm and charisma of a Hush Puppy shoe. It is still the car the in-laws would choose to keep carefully and meticulously polished in the garage, chiefly because their chief concern would be to transport their grandchildren safely when they come to stay.
And yet, and yet…
I loved every minute of my week with the SE L 1.0 TSI DSG version that just came to us on test. It was a pleasure to use and drive every day. I drove my younger daughter to school in the Fabia every morning and had a great time pushing it hard on the empty country roads on the way home after dropping her off. I used it to transport my older daughter to her new flat when she was going back to college and, with the rear seats folded, it swallowed her load of bags, plants, musical instruments and cooking utensils like a whale taking down a mouthful of krill.
The time has long gone when the name of Škoda stood for the cheapest cars on the market. Nowadays, it is more like “the best value, pound-for-pound, that you will find”. That motto is entirely borne out in the Fabia.
Under the skin, it may be essentially identical to the Volkswagen Polo and the Seat Ibiza whose platform it shares; but the Fabia is distinguished not only by its square looks but by its lower price range (£17800-£23735). It also stands apart as a result of Škoda’s relentless cleverness.
You’ve got Škoda’s standard ice-scraper under the petrol-filler cap, of course, and the umbrella in the door panel, but, in this car, the company’s ingenuity stretches further – from the active cooling shutters in the front grille, which help reduce the car’s wind resistance at speed and aid fuel efficiency to the USB slot in the rearview mirror which enables a camera to be mounted on the windscreen without the cable interfering with forward visibility. Not just ‘Simply Clever’, as Škoda likes to say, but pretty cool, too.
The burnt bronze paint job on our test car was a valiant attempt to elevate the looks of the Fabia from the merely dull, as were the snazzy allow wheels. The three-pot one-litre petrol engine in our test car didn’t carry a lot of menace in its output, but that absence was more than compensated for by fuel consumption that was constantly in excess of 50mpg and sometimes close to 60mpg. However, the greatest pleasure in driving the Fabia came when it had to be parked on city streets. With the benefit of quick, tight steering, reversing cameras and sensors, the Fabia could be slotted easily into the tightest of spaces even when the family in the car agreed that “you’ll never get in there.”
If that isn’t a good reason to love a car, I don’t know what is…
Neil Lyndon has been a journalist, broadcaster and writer on the UK’s national stage for 40 years, writing for every “quality” newspaper on Fleet Street. He started writing about cars and motorbikes for The Sunday Times in the 1980s and was Motoring Correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph for 20 years, having previously written a column on motorbikes for Esquire. He is also recognised as a leading commentator on gender politics, having published No More Sex War in 1992 – the first ever critique of feminism from a radical, egalitarian point of view.
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