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Driven: 2022 Skoda Fabia. Image by Skoda.

Driven: 2022 Skoda Fabia
The new Fabia doesnít look much different to its predecessor, but the similar styling hides a host of updates.

   



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2022 Skoda Fabia

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Skoda has sometimes felt like a poor relation compared with the trendier sister brands Seat and VW, but the value-orientated Czech manufacturer often produces more appealing takes on badge-engineered products than its siblings. The Fabia has long been a case in point, mixing practicality and style to feel more down-to-earth and more interesting than the Polo and Ibiza. Now there's a new model, based on the same underpinnings as the Seat and VW, but will it be more appealing?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2022 Skoda Fabia 1.0 TSI 110 DSG Colour Edition
Price: £22,510 as tested
Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Transmission: seven-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Power: 110hp
Torque: 200Nm
Emissions: 128-136g/km
Economy: 47.9-50.4mpg
0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Top speed: 127mph
Boot space: 380 litres

Styling

The new Fabia doesn't look much different to its predecessor, but it's essentially an all-new car. The front end is a little chunkier than before, the lights are a little sharper, and the back end looks a little classier, but otherwise this looks much the same as its forebear. But that's no problem, because the Skoda looks much smarter than most of the superminis on sale today. Even alongside the closely related Seat Ibiza and VW Polo, we reckon the Fabia is the better looking vehicle.

Interior

Skoda hasn't always had a great reputation for style, but the Fabia's cabin is surprisingly smart. It's less angular than in the old car, but there's improved technology in the shape of a big touchscreen infotainment system (for some models) and a digital instrument cluster that lives in Fabia-branded housing.

The tech is all inherited from the Volkswagen Group cars, and not the latest-generation stuff. Which is good news, because some of the modern VW tech is a step back compared with the older system found in the Fabia. The Skoda's system isn't as easy on the eye, but the menus are logical and it responds quickly to inputs.

The digital instrument display is more modern and more configurable, but it's clean and it shows you everything you need to see at a glance. There's no hunting around the display for the information you want, and there's a selection of display options to choose from.

But while the Fabia's on-board technology is good, the build quality is the most impressive aspect. Like most small hatchbacks, the Fabia has a few dodgy plastics to keep costs down, but the general quality is strong. While the materials aren't perfect, the way in which they're bolted together is exemplary.

Practicality

Practicality is traditionally a strong suit for Skoda products, and the Fabia is no exception. Interior space is perfectly adequate, but it's the boot space that really impresses. At 380 litres, the Fabia's boot is just one litre down on that of the VW Golf, let alone the Polo's 351-litre load space. And compared with a Ford Fiesta, it's a whopping 69 litres larger. That's a noticeable difference, and it makes the Skoda one of the most practical cars in its class.

Performance

The Fabia engine range is made up almost entirely of 1.0-litre petrol motors, most of which come with a turbocharger. Entry-level cars get a naturally aspirated 80hp 1.0-litre MPI engine with a five-speed manual gearbox, but most customers will choose one of the turbocharged 1.0-litre TSI engines. We tried the 110hp option, which provides ample performance and economy of around 50mpg, which sounds very appealing.

However, our test car also came with a seven-speed automatic gearbox, which was woefully ill matched to the little engine. It's fine when you're up and running, but the lack of torque, combined with the over-eager start-stop system, made the car frustrating and tricky to drive around town. There's a place reserved in Hell for whoever decided that pairing was a good idea.

If you must have an automatic gearbox, consider the 150hp, 1.5-litre petrol that's exclusively available with the sporty Monte Carlo model. It's little less efficient than the 110hp petrol, but it's more powerful and the bigger engine is better suited to the automatic gearbox.

Ride & Handling

With all its efficiency and practicality, the Fabia's dynamic capabilities have often been overlooked. For a while now, it has been an underrated car to drive quickly, and this new model looks set to continue the trend. Although the steering is too light, the car grips well and corners eagerly, and body roll is well controlled for the most part. Monte Carlo models, with their sports suspension, are expected to be even tidier.

The catch is a slightly brittle ride, but then few small hatchbacks ride that smoothly. The Fabia is perhaps a little less comfortable than the VW Polo with which it shares so much, but it's more comfortable than a Vauxhall Corsa or a Seat Ibiza. For long journeys, however, a Peugeot 208 will be more cossetting.

Value

The Fabia starts at £17,800, which pays for the entry-level SE Comfort model. Alloy wheels, a 6.5-inch touchscreen and rear parking sensors are all standard, but it does without the larger touchscreen of more upmarket models. To get that, you have to upgrade to the mid-range SE L, with its 9.2-inch screen with satellite navigation and its two-zone climate control.

Weirdly, our Colour Edition test car came in at £22,510 with options, but it missed the climate control that would have made it ideal. Instead, it came with manual air conditioning and a smaller eight-inch touchscreen, but there was a digital instrument display as standard.

Finally, the Fabia range is topped by the £20,935 Monte Carlo, which acts in lieu of a vRS model. With sports suspension and sportier bumpers, it's designed to offer a little more performance and handling capability, without challenging the likes of the Ford Fiesta ST and Mini Cooper JCW.

Verdict

The Fabia was already one of the front-runners in the small hatchback market, and this latest version moves the Skoda forward a step. Now itís not just among the best in the business, but itís arguably the small hatchback of choice. Just steer clear of the 1.0-litre automatic and make sure you get the kit you want Ė some items that should really be included as standard are optional extras.



James Fossdyke - 16 Aug 2022



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