Ten Second Review
The Skoda Fabia, WhatCar’s car of the year in 2014, and when one starts to look into it you can see why. This range has an exciting array of engines, varying from the lowly 74bhp 1.0 litre petrol, which is generally slow, to the 104bhp 1.3 litre diesel, which does have power in the low gears but drops off in higher ones. Your best bet is either of the 1.2 petrol variants, the high-powered one has lots of force but you should be just as happy with the 89bhp version that comes with plenty of power and increased economy.
The drive itself is comfortable and surprisingly fun, with great handling that allows you to be brave in the corners but keeps you secure on the road. Suspension is tailored to soak up all but the bigger of bumps, while gear changes come swiftly and fluidly at all times. Moving inside, the cabin up-front is very spacious and well accentuated by a cleverly designed dashboard visible from the rear.
Infotainment systems include DAB digital radio with USB capabilities on the standard model, but upgrade to the SE to get air conditioning, a much better stereo and an extra 1.5 inches on the standard colour screen. Top range SE L trims add climate and cruise control, and are perfectly designed for familial driving. Here this car excels, you will have no problem fitting thee children or even smaller teens in the back, and the only difficulty comes when trying to fit a six foot adult in the middle seat.
The boot at the back is big enough to handle most you will throw at it, only falling down slightly in terms of its rivals, and with an irritating raised lip that makes heavy bags just that bit more difficult to load. In terms of keeping this family safe, six airbags and stability controls have helped the standard model win five NCAP stars, but higher ranges include city emergency brakes and a clever system that locks the brakes after a collision, reducing additional damage to the vehicle and passengers.
Finally you get a decent security system, with all top level variants fitted with an alarm. This is a great modern hatchback that is suited to all walks of life, and would work well as either a company fleet car or a personal family runaround.