What's it like?
Unsurprisingly, this engine isn’t a heavy-hitter, but there’s more than enough pep on offer to get the Fabia moving. The gearlever’s action is pleasingly crisp and encourages you to interact with it to keep the revs above 2300rpm — the point where the Fabia feels most enthusiastic. Its timbre isn’t quite as rorty as you might expect a three-pot to be, either, sounding a touch subdued under throttle. Stray above 5000rpm, though, and it becomes strained and out of breath.
As for its on-road manners, the fact that it sits on a comparatively older platform than the Polo and Ibiza doesn’t leave it massively wanting. A comfort-biased set-up is present here, and that's evident in the way in which the Fabia goes about dealing with choppier sections of road — of which there were plenty on our Czech test route.
There is a degree of rumbling and shuddering as the 16in alloy wheels travel over ruts and bumps, but body control is generally tidy and well managed. Compression over shallower, low-frequency undulations is progressive and forgiving, with vertical travel being kept mostly in check. Sudden dips can be a touch jarring, though.
This softer set-up also translates into a greater degree of lateral roll through bends — something that's emphasised by the Fabia’s taller stature. Under normal driving conditions, this roll isn’t particularly problematic, but the car doesn’t seem particularly happy when subjected to sudden directional changes, wallowing about as its weight shifts around its lateral axis. It’s in these instances when the Skoda supermini doesn’t feel quite as sophisticated or balanced as its Seat and VW counterparts.
The newer MQB-A0-based models pay dividends in terms of their interior practicality, too. Where the Fabia used to be one of the most spacious cars in its class, the Polo and the Ibiza now have the upper hand. The Fabia’s 330-litre boot is still a useful size, but the Polo outdoes it by 21 litres, while the Ibiza offers an additional 25. Rear leg room seems tighter than it does in the Polo, too, although there’s still plenty of space for your noggin.