First DriveThe new Fabia, tested in pre-production form, is markedly improved – but the three-cylinder engine mars its appeal somewhat
First DrivePractical and well-priced, but the 1.6 TDI is a similarly priced and more usable option
Skoda claims that the Fabia’s been facelifted. I reckon they’ve just slapped on one of those mud face-pack things and plonked a couple of slices of cucumber on the headlights overnight.
This is a proper Porsche-style blink-and-you’ll-miss-it facelift. The bumpers have been subtly reprofiled, the grille tweaked, the rear lights ever-so-slightly altered, the optional front fog lights are now round, vRS-style and, er, that’s it, really. Which is good, because the Fabia always looked smart and unpretentious, and it still does. The estate version we tested even has hints of Mercedes C-class wagon towards the rear.
Inside, things are pretty much as they were, too. There’s new seat upholstery, a new steering wheel, new instrument graphics and… blowed if I can tell. The most significant – and useful – change is that air conditioning is now standard across the range.
Elegance models like the one we drove now get leather covering on the steering wheel, gearlever and handbrake: a great improvement on the previous low-grade plastic. Otherwise it’s the same well-established Fabia formula of high-quality dashboard, comfy seats and reasonable room front and rear.
There are also plenty of useful, big-car touches, such as a rear wiper that comes on when you select reverse with the front wipers on, a 12v power socket in the boot of the estate and, on this Elegance model, heated front seats, cruise control and 15-inch alloy wheels.
Options also now include rear parking sensors – not vital, even in the estate, as the large glass area means all-round visibility is excellent. On the road the familiar VW-sourced 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine is a little gruff at low speed, but responsive (once the turbo kicks in) and gutsy (ditto). Best of all, the diesel manages a claimed 56.5mpg combined and, in Elegance estate form, costs £12,470. Facelifted or not, the Fabia’s an attractive proposition.