What is it?
This 1.0-litre petrol engine isn't quite the cheapest way into the new Skoda Fabia, but it's not far off. The three-cylinder engine is identical to the higher-powered version that features in the smaller Citigo and is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox.
Even though the Fabia is larger than the Citigo, the engine is unchanged and only produces 74bhp and 70lb ft.
It is also comes with fuel-saving technology such as stop-start, which means this car is 7.5mpg and 20g/km more efficient and cleaner respectively than the equivalent 68bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine found in the outgoing Fabia.
What's it like?
The Fabia is only available as a five-door hatchback, so it is inevitable that it weighs more than the much smaller Citigo - 220kg more, to be precise. This has an inevitable impact on how well the small 1.0-litre unit deals with hauling the car around.
The acceleration through the gears takes a hit, with 0-62mph taking 14.7sec. This is only 0.8sec slower than the Citigo on paper, but attempt a quick overtake on a faster road or load the car up with adult passengers and the Fabia begins to struggle. It's not that it can't cope with passing slower-moving vehicles, but it does require a fair dose of revs and regular use of the gearlever. The gears themselves are widely spaced, too, so while you'll find yourself dropping from fourth to third on steeper hills, you will never be wanting for a sixth gear on the motorway.
However, long motorway journeys aren't really the main point of this version of the Fabia. Instead, it is much happier around town. It's a quiet and smooth engine that allows for easy nipping from junction to junction. Stick in the lower gears at town speeds and the Fabia's light but precise gearshift allows for unfussed urban progress.
The Fabia's real forte, though, is the rest of the package. This is a practical little hatchback with some really clever touches that set it apart from other cars in its class. It has a generous 330-litre boot, which is 40 litres larger than a Ford Fiesta's and 50 litres more than the Volkswagen Polo's. There's also slightly more shoulder room than in the previous Fabia, along with generous headroom that means even the tallest adults can get comfortable in the back.
Little elements such as luggage hooks, more bottle holders and a wider boot opening than before increase the practicality further still, but it's a shame that the boot lip is quite high and the rear seats don't fold totally flat.
The SE trim of the car we tested comes with about everything you could want from a supermini and a few more things besides. It has 15-inch alloys, leather steering wheel, Bluetooth, DAB radio, electric front windows, air conditioning, rear parking sensors and a city braking system. Unfortunately, downgrading to S trim leaves you with a comparatively basic spec, removing things such as the air-con.
It's a shame, too, that the rest of the workmanlike cabin lacks some of the flair that you get with the likes of the Polo.
Should I buy one?
The biggest issue with this version of the Fabia is the existence of the even better 1.2-litre engine, which is a real peach in 89bhp guise. That car, in SE trim, is the real pick of the range and costs just £630 more. The 1.2 TSI also emits 1g/km of CO2 less than the 1.0 MPI, so it qualifies for the same tax band. It is marginally more fuel efficient, on paper at least.
The only other real benefit to picking this version over the quicker and more rewarding 1.2 TSI is insurance. The smaller engine is in group 3E, while the 1.2 is in 8E, so younger drivers will reduce costs by going for the 1.0 MPI.
You still get a great car in many other ways; practicality, space and around-town manners are all good enough to make up for a lack of motorway pace if your driving is mainly urban.
Skoda Fabia 1.0 MPI 75PS SE
Price £12,760; Engine 3 cyls, 999cc, petrol; Power 74bhp at 6200rpm; Torque 70lb ft at 3000-4300rpm; Gearbox 5-spd manual; Kerb weight 980kg; 0-62mph 14.7sec; Top speed 107mph; Economy: 58.9mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 108g/km, 14 per cent