Engines-wise, Skoda offers a 1.2-litre three-cylinder with 69bhp and a 1.4-litre four-cylinder with 85bhp, both naturally aspirated, plus 1.2-litre turbos with 84 and 103bhp – plus that potent 1.4-litre vRS unit. Diesels are a 1.2-litre, 74bhp, three-cylinder unit for the high-economy Fabia Greenline, or 1.6 TDIs ranging from 74bhp though 89 to 104.
Although our heavily-optioned, 1.4-litre, 85bhp test car tipped our scales at 1134kg, Skoda’s own figures put the 1.4 model at 1060kg, four bags of sugar lighter than the model we tested in 2000, and among the lightest in the current class. Given the Fabia’s grown-up feel and solid construction, this lightweight structure is a major achievement.
On first inspection this 1.4-litre 16-valve engine’s power appears less than impressive, with some same-capacity rivals providing more poke. Look closer, though, and you’ll notice that the Fabia’s peak power is produced earlier, as is the decent 97lb ft of torque. Smooth, linear and equally happy at either end of the rev range, the 1.4’s weakness is a more audible voice than some rivals, but with a breathy, encouraging note, even this is not a significant issue.
On the Millbrook mile straight our 1.4 hit 60mph from rest in 11.5sec, quicker than Skoda’s own claims and as quick as anything in its class. Around the bowl the Fabia just clicked into triple figures, before losing the fight to aerodynamic drag at 104mph. One caveat, though: fill the Fabia to capacity – four adults and their luggage – and the pace drops markedly, leaving you working both gearbox and engine hard to achieve even quite moderate speeds.