First report: We head back to the petrol pumps with our new family supermini


  • 4.0 out of 5

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    Verdict

    Petrol bills aside, moving back from an EV to the Fabia looks set to remind us of just what a compelling package a well sorted supermini can be. This could be yet another Skoda that does well over real-world miles.

    • Mileage: 4,723
    • Economy: 55.1mpg
    • I’ve gone from one extreme to the other with my latest fleet test car. Out has gone the Lexus UX 300e – a pure-electric premium baby SUV. In has come the latest generation of Skoda Fabia – as conventional a supermini as you’d hope to get, shunning electrification in favour of pure petrol power.

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      That’s not to say this fourth-generation Fabia didn’t represent a major shift for Skoda when it arrived in late 2021. After years based on older mechanicals, at last the Czech model moved onto MQB A0, the same platform as the current VW Polo and SEAT Ibiza. This, in turn, allowed greater levels of in-car tech, improvements in refinement and better efficiency.

      The core recipe didn’t change, though – Skoda’s engineers were never going to deviate far from the brand’s strengths – so the Fabia is on the large side for its class. When we tested it, we identified it as one of the few superminis you could use as a proper small family car. 

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      Over the next six months I’ll be looking at its ability to cope with whatever my husband and I can throw at it – not least as we renovate an apartment on the south coast, two hours’ drive away from our London house. Our spec mixes one of the top trim levels with a mid-spec engine.

      If you want to splurge you can go for the four-cylinder, 1.5-litre petrol car, but we’ve stuck with one of the core 1.0-litre three-cylinders, producing a modest 109bhp and paired with a six-speed manual gearbox. 

      Our SE L is the range-topper – unless you fancy the motorsport-themed Monte Carlo – and the standard kit list really shows this Fabia generation’s tech gains. You get 16-inch wheels as standard, plus ambient cabin lighting, dual-zone air- conditioning, rear parking sensors, two USB-C ports and 9.2-inch infotainment that incorporates both smartphone integration and Skoda’s own navigation. 

      We’ve specced Race Blue metallic paint, while the £620 Convenience Package adds keyless entry, hill assist and wireless charging. The Light and View Package Plus (£1,300) brings front foglights with corner function, rain sensors, full LED headlights and washers for those units.

      It’s been strange getting back into a combustion-engined car. I miss that instant whoosh of electric torque, of course, and rising fuel prices mean I’ll also be keeping an eye on how often I need to visit the petrol station. It’ll be interesting to see how close I can get to Skoda’s claimed 50-55mpg.

      I did wonder whether I’d take a while to get back into the swing of changing gears, but luckily the six-speed transmission’s light, accurate shift makes it easy to use. There’s also an eco feature that prompts you to shift up or down for the best efficiency. 

      Overall I’m impressed with the look of the cabin; the material quality seems high and the touchscreen is clear and easy to use. There are a few things I don’t like, though. The Fabia name on the top of the binnacles seems superfluous and detracts from an otherwise smart dash. The front-door handles are also rather ugly; while they are fairly ergonomic, with the added silver trim they just seem too bold for my liking. I prefer the rear doors’ plain black ones. It’s probably related to our car’s posher trim level, but these feel like features where Skoda has, in a very rare move, gone for form over function.

      Model:

      Skoda Fabia SE L 1.0 TSI 110 PS

      On fleet since:

      June 2022

      Price new:

      £20,335 (£22,915)

      Engine:

      1.0-litre 3cyl, 109bhp

      CO2/tax:

      128g/km / £165

      Options:

      Race Blue metallic paint (£660), Light and View Package Plus (£1,300), Convenience Package (£620)

      Insurance*:

      Group: 12 Quote: £423

      Mileage:

      4,723

      Economy:

      55.1mpg

      Any problems?

      None so far

      *Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

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