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Ab Fab, the New Fabia

Apr 26, 2007

By Chris Russon

It's a bigger, better and cheaper Skoda than it was in 2000

If ever a car can lay claim to being Bargain of the Year it has to be Skoda's new Fabia. Not only is it bigger and better in every way than the original, it's also cheaper.

When it goes on sale on May 17 the new Fabia will be available from pounds 7,990 - and that's pounds 9 less than the price of the first Fabia back in 2000.

Couple that to group one car insurance and low exhaust emissions and the entry-level Fabia 1.2 is set to become the cost-conscious driver's dream.

It's going to compete against the likes of the Peugeot 207, Toyota Yaris and Fiat Punto - not to mention the Ford Fiesta - and that is extreme competition.

The Skoda is not the cheapest - the Punto can be had for some pounds 400 less - but it has more room inside and, perhaps, most importantly of all, it has the largest boot at 300 litres.

That's several shopping bags more than anything else in the supermini class and when it comes to all-round comfort the Fabia excels.

A fully adjustable steering wheel and driver's seat are standard across the range. So are electric front windows, central locking and four airbags.

It handles as well. The three-cylinder 1.2-litre petrol engine is not going to set the world alight in straight-line performance but when it comes to suspension and steering this is a little car which feels great.

The new Fabia is based on the same platform as the original - and that's shared with the VW Polo - but tweaked to ensure it meets all standards up to 2010.

The result is a solid and sturdy car which belies the price and size. However, go up the range and the competitive edge of the entry- level Fabia loses some bite. There are going to be three trim levels - Fabia 1, 2 and 3 - and while air conditioning is standard on the Fabia 2, that's priced from pounds 9,720.

Fabia 3 comes with the likes of cruise and climate control, parking sensors and some styling enhancements among its standard fit and costs from pounds 11,455 with the range topping 1.9-litre diesel priced from pounds 13,015.

In all there are seven engine choices, four petrol and three diesel, with a variety of capacities. The basic petrol model uses a 1.2-litre 60bhp petrol engine, then there's a 70bhp version, followed by a 1.4-litre 85bhp unit and a 105bhp 1.6-litre. Diesels are 70 and 80bhp 1.4-litre and the 1.9 which develops 105bhp.

The cleanest is the 1.4 80bhp diesel - priced from pounds 10,175 - which can average more than 60mpg and has 120g/km CO2 emissions.

It's the only version of the new Fabia which qualifies for pounds 35 a year car tax but has an insurance rating of group three and sounds very much like a diesel of old.

There is a lot of noise in this car at cruising speed and the extra weight of the engine tells on the handling. The quickest are the 1.6-litre petrol versions and the bigger diesel with claimed top speeds of 118mph and 0 to 60 acceleration times of 10.1 and 10.8 seconds respectively. Those are priced from pounds 10,795 and pounds 11,855 in Fabia 2 trim - but it is the base model which really punches above its weight.

With the higher powered 70bhp 1.2-litre engine the Fabia is top value for money. On paper the 0 to 60 time of 14.9 seconds appears laboured but wind it up and it can hold its own even at motorway speeds while still averaging a claimed 47.9mpg.

It handles amazingly well and is a car any driver will enjoy. This version is priced from pounds 8,720, has group two insurance and CO2 emissions of 140g/km. It has the same clean cut look to the facia as all of the new models - albeit without the upgraded radio/ CD player - and is the ideal supermini.

Seven years ago the original Fabia put Skoda back on the map. The latest version is styled to impress, is airy and roomy and while being nothing flash is - pound for pound - the best not-so-little small car you can get.

(c) 2007 Evening Chronicle - Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

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