herald

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Third generation Fabia is lighter, wider and mor e efficient and I'm a reluctant fan

Nothing gets my back up more than jumping the gun.

A prime automotive example of this is when a newly-launched car wins a slew of awards before there's time for the paint to dry.

Now, the third generation Fabia is probably a safe enough bet, but the stylish little supermini had hardly seen a wet day before the accolades began to flood in.

It debuted at the Paris Motor Show last September, the Irish launch took place in December and by January the little imp had already been crowned What Car? Car of the Year 2015.

Granted, the Czech car giant has sold a whopping 3.4 million since 2000, and it quickly earned a reputation as a bulletproof little runaround that was easy on the pocket.

Still, I had the hump and was determined not to be bowled over like the other motoring sheep.

First, I wasn't going to be overly-impressed by the more rugged, aggressive styling with very definite DNA from the Rapid and the Octavia.

The crisp creases and razor-sharp lines especially deep into the flanks didn't get the blood pumping and I hardly noticed the sportier, swat stance that sees her reduced in height by 90mm and widened by 35mm.

Inside, the bright, modern simplistic layout and the clever use of snazzy inlays in ivory (which matched the seat trim exquisitely) didn't faze me one bit, nor did the extra cabin space or the class-leading boot of 330 litres thanks to shorter overhangs and longer wheelbase (5mm).

And as for the new turbocharged 1.2-litre TSI petrol generating 90bhp and returning 60mpg? It didn't float my boat at all - it blew me out of the water completely.

What a fantastic improvement this version is, with the drive dynamic and ride of a car a whole segment above.

Raiding the VW parts bin and shedding almost 65kg, the Fabia feels incredibly agile and responsive, not to mention 15pc more fuel- efficient.

Like its smaller cousins the Citigo and Mii, the 1.0 litre three-cylinder is also an option on the Fabia, with 60bhp and fuel-sipping savings.

The most fuel-efficient of all is the 1.4-litre diesel with 90 or 105bhp that delivers on average 3.4 l/100km (83mpg).

But the 1.2 for me is the pick of the bunch, proving to be nippy around town while punching well above its weight on comfy motorway jaunts.

The steering, while light around the city and ideal for parking, was surprisingly well-weighted and responsive while body roll is pretty much non-existent.

Standard kit on the entry level Active is a bit sparse and includes curtain airbags, electric windows and steel wheels.

You'll have to opt for the Ambition to get LED lights, Bluetooth, 15-inch alloys, touchscreen radio, 60/40 split rear seats and multi-function steering wheel.

The top-end Style gets you air con, parking sensors, 16-inch alloys and keyless entry, but that'll cost an extra €2,600.

Still, euro for euro the Fabia is by far the best value for money for a car in this class.

Maybe they should have just called it the Skoda Fab instead.

Then again, nobody likes a show-off - especially me.

Prices for the Fabia start at €13,895.

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