First Drive - 2019 Skoda Fabia

Muddy Madam has had her 2002 1.9Tdi Fabia estate for around 8 years, and, apart from a few niggling faults it’s been a cracking car, so when I received the invite to test the new 2018 facelift version, I was curious to find out how much it has improved over the years.

Arriving at Windmill Hill near Waddesdon Manor I was greeted to a large section of new Skodas to play with, sorry, evaluate, but something caught my attention as nestled in a corner was a red 2005 Fabia vRS from their heritage fleet. As I like older cars it was no surprise that this was the first I took for a spin, and what a blast it was. Obviously well looked after it was fun and taut - unlike Muddy Madam’s, guess I’ll need to look at its suspension when I get back home…

On to the new car…

On the outside, the keen eyed amongst you will notice a slightly wider front grille with slimmer lights, new rear bumper reflectors and LED daytime running lights which are now standard across the range - its changes are subtle.  It’s the same on the inside too, but Skoda were keen to tell us about the abundance of safety equipment and assistance systems on the Fabia that you’ll generally only find on more expensive luxury vehicles.

You have 5 models to choose from; S, SE, SE L, Monte Carlo and Colour Edition and all have a generous amount of equipment as standard, and with prices starting from £12,480 the Fabia range offers great value for money.

I opted to take the 110ps, 1.0ltr TSI SE L estate out first and from the off it was nice drive, and comfortable too.  The 110ps 3 cylinder petrol will get you to 60mph in 9.7 seconds and carry on until you reach 122mph, or get your licence taken from you, whichever comes first. 

Admittedly I did like the low down grunt of the 1.9Tdi in the vRS, but for a lot of cars these days 3 cylinder engines appear to be the future.  I’m not criticising it by the way, the efficient 3 cylinder hushed the Fabia along nicely, with enough poke to put a smile on my face along the twisty bits.

Inside the Fabia you’ll find plenty of storage, and although it has a plastic feel about it, it’s a smart and comfortable place to be. Although tall passengers may struggle to get into the back, with equally tall people up front, space in the rear is far better. The hatch has 330ltrs of space opening up to 1,150ltrs with the seats folded, and the estate goes from 530ltrs to a massive 1,395ltrs.

It’s the little things about Skoda’s that I’ve always liked, like the ice-scraper behind the fuel cap, and these days they go further.  For instance, the estate now comes with an LED torch in the boot which is charged automatically when the car is on the move.  That’s not all, the torch is fitted with magnets so that it can be attached to the car’s bodywork if you need both hands during a nighttime emergency, and of course, lets not forget about the brolly that’s stored inside the rear door.

As I touched on earlier, the Fabia range now only has one petrol 3 cylinder engine, though there are 3 outputs available. The entry-level 1.0ltr MPI 75PS has a combined fuel consumption and emissions of 57.7mpg and 111g/km Co2. On a combined cycle the 5-speed manual TSI 95ps and 110ps return up to 61.4mpg and 60.1mpg respectively.  When spec’d with a seven-speed DSG fuel consumption really isn’t that different.

In terms of transmissions, the MPI 75ps and TSI 95ps models are equipped with a 5-speed manual gearbox as standard, while the TSI 110ps model has the option of either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed DSG.  

There’s no doubt that the Fabia will continue to be a success for Skoda as it continues to offer great value for money, and it’s a highly practical alternative for those who want something different from the norm.