Once the frumpy but popular workhorse of the Skoda range, a makeover might well garner the Skoda Fabia Estate the credit it deserves, says Charlie Flindt
The Fabia has earned itself the reputation of a frumpy but popular workhorse in the past. Charlie Flindt takes the new Skoda Fabia Estate for a spin and finds that its makeover is working wonders.
If you don’t mind having a boot that’s more terrier than flatcoat, then read Charlie Flindt’s review of the INFINITI QX70 Ultimate.
SKODA FABIA ESTATE
The Fabia has propped up the Skoda range for many years but has never really been the star of the show. It has sold well and been popular in its later years as a student run-around but has always looked rather frumpy and uninspiring. Not even rally success and the phenomenal diesel-powered vRS have managed to boost its image.
The new Mk 3 might change all that. Someone at Skoda has been on a course on how to use creases in bodywork and the result is lovely. Gone is the slightly frumpy shape and in comes a sharp, unfussy and modern look, matching the rest of the Skoda range perfectly.
Skoda has wisely kept things simple on the inside, too. A lot of effort has gone into interior space, which has been boosted by modest increases in track and wheel-base measurements, and it has really paid off. The control and instruments are as fundamental and workaday as you could hope for, clear and easy to read. The start button is perhaps the only concession to trendy unnecessity. The cabin of the Skoda Fabia Estate is light and spacious, and pleasing on the eye.
SKODA FABIA ESTATE: A HIKE FROM HAMPSHIRE TO WALES
I took the Skoda Fabia Estate on a long hike from Hampshire to the Welsh borders and the surprise was how it handled motorways. It came across as long-legged and comfortable. The seats were really good, which is always a relief – there’s nothing worse than feeling something not right in the lower back when you’re 200 miles from home. At cruising speed it was a tad noisy, road roar being the biggest culprit. Once into the land where an Englishman is wise not to try the place names, the Fabia loved the narrow lanes and tight corners, being nimble and agile; perfect for avoiding the next sheepdog/Massey 35/weary cows lurking round the corner.
Perhaps the Fabia’s weakest point is the diesel engine, which is fantastically loud under acceleration. Pulling away from the M6 toll booth (where everyone gets seized by an uncontrollable teenage urge to race each other), I was convinced there was a Harley-Davidson lurking unseen in a blind spot. And on the 400-mile round trip economy wasn’t spectacular, working out in the high fifties. The 1.2 petrol engine has been highly praised elsewhere as being far more civilised
and might be a wiser choice as the crusade against diesel gathers momentum.
SKODA FABIA ESTATE: A GOOD, PRACTICAL CAR
But, curiously, there’s little else to moan about – and little else to praise. The Fabia is a really good, practical car. It’s the automotive Beretta 686, the road-going Browning 525 Grade 1. It does its job really well, comfortably. Point its barrels in the right direction and it will do all that is asked of it. Even if it can be about as noisy as a 12-bore.
Interestingly, no vRS special edition is coming. Skoda is obviously confident that the Fabia is in no need of any fire-breathing flagship. My long trip to the land of the voiceless alveolar lateral fricative suggests that it’s right.
SKODA FABIA ESTATE 1.4 TDI SE L
Engine 1,422cc three-cylinder turbodiesel
Max speed 122mph
Performance 0 to 62: 10.1 seconds
Combined fuel economy 74.3mpg
Insurance group 12E
Would suit long-distance day-trippers