It’s a surefire recipe for complaints. Take one speed-loving horsepower junkie, administer heavy hatchback with a meek motor, and then take cover. Part of the reason why I paid no attention to the Fabia when it joined our long-term fleet. Only 69bhp, not my type.
Then I was saddled with it for a week. At first I tried to squeeze maximum performance from the motor, using the entire powerband and every last engine rev. This didn’t get me very far. So I relaxed the effort a tad, started to shift up early and generally started enjoying everything else the car had to offer. First up was the realisation that not thrashing the motor actually keeps you in the sweet spot, where the torque and power come together nicely.
No strain, no stress.
Then I began to appreciate that feeling of indestructibility that comes with all Skodas — the lovely thunk of the doors, the substantial feel of the seats, the manner in which the Skoda muscles over a broken road with just the right amount of compliance, and that WWF wrestler build that makes most other rivals feel like they are nothing more than stapled tin foil. The more time you spend with the car, the more you appreciate its finer points; especially true when you jump into more expensive cars that feel nowhere near as special.From important stuff like large-sized anatomically correct seats to little details like the chromed seatbelt guide that lets the belt glide forward effortlessly, the little dots of rubber behind the inside door handle, or the feather-touch release of the hatch — this car abounds with them.
I wasn’t particularly looking forward to long highway drives but was pleasantly surprised here as well. The strong midrange allows you to build pace effortlessly and the Fabia maintains 120kph with ease. But the best bit is the manner in which the Skoda holds the road. Grip from the Apollo tyres is strong, body control of the car is first rate and the Skoda easily hangs on to the perfect line around a corner.
Over the months we’ve experienced a few niggles with the car. A rattle from under the dash was traced to a loose blower nut and the ABS seems to cut in early at walking speeds. But apart from this, the Fabia has been an absolute indulgence. So much so that I’m driving it more than I planned to initially. Even the fuel economy has improved as the three-cylinder engine has opened out a bit, the car now giving 11.3kpl overall. Still, can’t help wondering how nice this car would be with a 1.2 TSI motor.