What they said when the Skoda Fabia was new… (Feb 1 2002)
IF the Felicia was the car that kick-started the renaissance of Skoda, its replacement the Fabia is the model that cemented the Czech manufacturer's arrival as a marque of respect.
The company is wholly owned by Volkswagen these days and the Fabia has upstaged the popular Polo by providing the same quality of engineering but providing better space at a cheaper price.
Superminis account for around 22 per cent of the UK's new car market. In such a fiercely contested arena, Skoda couldn't afford to make any mistakes - and they didn't.
Within month's of the Fabia's launch in March 2000 it had been named Car of the Year, and hasn't looked back.
All Fabias are five-door cars with front-wheel drive and initially there was a choice of three engines - a pair of 1.4 litre units, producing 68 and 100bhp, along with a 64bhp 1.9 diesel.
More recently, a 115bhp 2.0 litre petrol unit along with automatic transmission has been added to the range, plus a neat four-door saloon model and five-door estate.
The key to Fabia is quality. It was actually the first model to be built on the latest VW small car platform, one which is now being used for the new generation Polo and stablemate the Seat Ibiza both of which will be on sale soon.
But the Fabia had a head start and Skoda has taken full advantage. Apart from sporting a chunky, solid looking profile, the Fabia has a fit and finish of executive level. The use of laser welding techniques ensures the shutlines are absolutely flush, the switchgear and dash is both simple yet sturdy and the doors close with a reassuring prison-like thud.
And while in some rivals the overall facia can look dark and brooding, the use of 'slush moulding' gives a soft feel to Fabia's two-tone dash.
Comfortable seats and a driving position aided by reach and rake adjustable steering wheel, adds to the appeal.
But where this car really scores is in its space, thanks to a longer than average wheelbase. This allows generous proportions with the result of ample space for four adults and a decent size boot.
As a driver's car the Fabia performs with credit, particularly on the motorway, while in everyday conditions the ride quality is nicely composed. Fabias are also easy to manoeuvre round tight car parks thanks to a fine turning circle.
The new 2.0 model apart, acceleration is no better than average, due in no small measure to the car's weight.
All Fabias all well equipped. Standard features include driver’s airbag, power steering, two Isofix child seat fittings, sound system and immobiliser. Top spec Elegance trim adds considerably more, including air-con, ABS, electric windows, alarm and passenger airbag.
Words: Mike Torpey