Like its Volkswagen Group stablemates, when Skoda brings new product to market there’s rarely a radical new styling direction, with the Czech brand taking a leaf from big brother Volkswagen’s book and preferring to take the evolutionary rather than revolutionary approach. Not that there’s much wrong with that approach when the previous model was quite a tidy little number to start with.
With a more youthful look than before, Skoda hopes the 2015 Fabia will appeal to a younger audience and has high hopes that it will be the model that widens the brand appeal, taking it to the mainstream market and lifting their overall annual volume above 1,000 units for the first time.
It remains a relatively conservative looking little car, but that said, it has a much sharper new look from the outside and a redesigned, cleaner and more modern interior with higher quality materials and finishes and an all-round improved cabin ambience. There’s more room inside too, with the new Fabia feeling genuinely roomy and with a decent amount of leg room and luggage space.
Great driving car
But it’s the driving experience that impresses the most. Getting elements of the group’s new MQB platform ahead of Volkswagen’s Polo, on-road behaviour, refinement, comfort and handling are streets ahead of most of the competition in this crowded small car segment.
Two engines and two transmissions are offered in our market, starting with a 66kW/160Nm 1.2litre powerplant mated to a slick shifting manual ‘box, with automatic buyers getting an 81kW/175Nm TSI 1.2litre engine and a seven speed DSG twin clutch trans.
The turbocharger and catalyst are integrated into one unit and both models are Euro 6 emission compliant and both are claimed to sip petrol at the rate of 4.7L/100km. And servicing requirement shouldn’t break the bank, with a service interval of 24 months or 30,000km, whichever comes first.
Safety gear includes ESC, Hill Start Assist, six airbags and ISOFIX child seat anchorages in the back and a raft of other safety gear, resulting in a 5 star Euro NCAP safety rating.
There are still all the clever little touches Skoda prides itself on. Simple but practical stuff like variable position rear storage shelf, bag hooks, an ice scraper stored in the petrol flap, ample drink bottle storage, ticket holder and a mesh pocket on the sides of the seat backs, to name a few.
Pricing starts at $19,990 for the entry-level 66kW manual car. For an additional $2,000, this can be upgraded with a Tech Package that includes halogen headlights with LED daytime running lights, front fog lights, climate air-conditioning, Bolero radio and Mirror link connectivity.
The 81kW TSI automatic is $24,990, with a couple of optional packages available too. Either a Dynamic Sport Package which includes the same equipment as the Tech Package, but adds sport suspension, sport seats, sport steering wheel and pedals as well as SunSet window tint and 17 inch alloys, or a Colour Sport Package that swaps the 17 inch alloys for 16s and gives you wheels, mirrors and roof in an attractive second contrasting colour. Either package adds $2,000 to the price tag.
The only real disappointments are the lack of a reversing camera and no option of satellite navigation which, while not “must haves” in this sector, many of the competitors do offer.
But there's something no money can buy - X factor
But there’s still quite a long option list for those who want to add more gear, with a $1,500 glass panoramic roof, 1,250 keyless entry and start, $500 alarm and $600 radar-based “Front Assist” among others.
While the Fabia may not be the best equipped car in its segment, may not be the cheapest or arguably, the most stylish looking, it is one of the most likeable and with huge X factor, something you won’t see on any price list or spec sheet, but has enormous value.