The third generation of the Fabia, arguably the Skoda that started the Czech firm’s journey from comedy fodder to serious player, launched four years ago has been given a bit of a makeover to keep it competitive.
Exterior changes include redesigned front and rear bumpers, a radiator grille that’s been restyled with such subtlety that even the eagle-eyed among you may fail to notice, and slimmer light clusters with LED daytime running lights as standard and, for the first time, optional LED headlights.
At the back the reflectors are integrated into the new bumper and LED tail lights are also added to the options list.
There’s six new alloy wheel designs to pick from including – another first for the Fabia – 18-inch rims though, for reasons unknown to me, Skoda are only making them available on the hatchback.
Choice, it seems, is everything these days and manufacturers are keen to offer buyers as many opportunities to personalise their car as possible so Skoda offer the Fabia in 15 body colours (not on one car, of course).
The Colour Edition, which is being reviewed here, allows you to specify a contrasting roof, door mirror and alloy wheel colour – either silver, white or black – and includes a quite impressive list of standard equipment.
For your, roughly, £15,000, you get cruise control, six-and-a-half-inch touchscreen with DAB radio, SD card slot, USB port and six speakers, Bluetooth audio streaming and handsfree calling, Smartlink+ mobile phone connectivity, electric front windows and door mirrors, leather handbrake, gearshift lever and multifunction steering wheel, stop/start system and rear parking sensors.
My car was equipped with the Amudsen navigation system, a £650 option, that was easy to use and rich in features but doesn’t come with an upgraded touchscreen so graphics are a bit low-res.
On the safety front there are curtain, side, driver and front passenger airbags, a suite of electronic stability controls systems that go by initialisms such as ABS, MSR, ASR and others and tyre pressure monitor.
There’s a selection of new materials – what’s available depends on the trim level – to improve the perceived quality in the passenger space and the dials in the instrument have been tweaked to make them easier to read. For a little added convenience all the electric windows – or both in the case of my review model – open automatically with a long-press on the corresponding button.
Despite efforts to jazz up the interior there’s still very little to excite the senses but it is very well put together and all the surfaces that you’d commonly come into contact with feel robust and of decent quality.
As always with a Skoda, it’s the little things that make ownership such a simple pleasure. Details like the umbrella under the passenger seat, the ice-scraper behind the fuel filler cap and the tiny, but useful waste bin in the door pocket. Though it’s worth noting that’s part of the £120 Simply Clever Package that also adds a storage compartment in the boot and a holder for mobile devices between the front seats.
Where the Fabia does impress is with interior space. There’s plenty of room to carry four adults in real comfort and, possibly five, but that comfort will get a little less real.
The boot is big – 350-litres with the rear seats in place and 1,150 with them folded – and that’s just the hatchback. The estate, which doesn’t really have any natural rivals, is even more impressive.
There are four engine options. None of them are diesel and none have more than three cylinders or are larger than 1.0-litre in capacity. Power outputs are 59 and 74bhp for the two normally aspirated units and 94 and 109 for the turbocharged engines.
My review car was fitted with the 94bhp motor and, with a 0-62mph time of 10.8 seconds it proved to be a respectable performer. It’s smooth and refined – with what I happen to think is a delightful little growl when you put your foot down – and feels as equally at home in urban environments or cruising at 70mph on the motorway.
You have to ‘make do’ with a five-speed manual transmission – the six-speed box is only available with the highest output engine – but it’s slick and precise.
It is particularly involving to drive. The steering is vague and the Fabia isn’t willing to change direction with quite the willingness of some of its rivals. It is comfortable, though, and the driving position is excellent.
The Fabia is a competent, thoughtful and comfortable little hatchback. It isn’t for the driving enthusiast but that fact doesn’t make it any less rewarding to own. The cabin is spacious, well-built and ergonomically sound. Its luggage-carrying capacity is impressive too.
The Fabia doesn’t try to be something it’s not. This is a car that’s meant to make life easier, with lots of thoughtful touches and a focus on comfort and refinement. It’s also great value.
Skoda Fabia Colour Edition 1.0 TSI 95PS
As tested: £17,040
Engine: 1.0-litre 3-cylinder turbocharged
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Max power: 95PS
Max torque: 160Nm @ 1,800 - 3,500rpm
Max speed: 114mph
WLTP combined: 51.4 – 47.1mpg