The Fabia is back from its BS III-spec sabbatical and how. Skoda has slashed prices across the BS IV Fabia range and this top-of-the-line Fabia 1.6 Elegance costs Rs 5.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). That’s a nicely rounded Rs 75,000 off the earlier Fabia 1.2 Elegance.
Skoda’s done this by increasing the localisation level in the Fabia (up from 15 percent to 40 percent). To put it simply, you get more power for less money. There’s more good news. Joining the revised 1.2-litre 75bhp petrol motor is a 1.6-litre petrol which makes 105bhp. With a substantial 30bhp more than the 1.2 petrol, it’s quick, it’s fun and you don’t need to work to go fast. Zero to 100kph comes up in 12.1secs and 160kph is breached under 40secs.
That’s not all. It’s an all-round performer and that means it pulls well from low engine speeds, has a decent mid-range and, once past 4000rpm, pulls strongly all the way to its 6000rpm redline. The motor is similar to the one in the Vento and the Polo 1.6 and makes an identical 105bhp and 15.6kgm of torque. The gearing is identical and the Fabia is just 20kg lighter than the Vento. So, it’s not surprising that the performance figures are similar to the VW saloon’s.
While the new Fabia is a huge performance step up for a Fabia and feels like it has found new legs, it’s not blisteringly quick. The closest thing we had to a hot hatch, the Fiat Palio 1.6 does the 0-100kph run in less time (11.1sec, but the Fiat wasn’t shackled by BS IV emission norms).
So then, you may ask, why are we so kicked about this car? It’s because it is now almost perfect. The power means you can have a ball exploiting the chassis’ high limits. It handles like a German saloon – the steering is well weighted, it holds whatever line you pick through a corner – bumps be dammed – and body movements are well controlled. The brakes are strong and the gearshift action is slick – everything we normally look for in a driver’s car. And, it manages to be fun, without compromising on everyday usability or practicality.
The Fabia’s upright shape lends it spacious, comfortable interiors that can easily seat five and a big boot. Even things like the mostly pliant, well controlled ride means you won’t complain about the state of the roads to everyone you meet.
Interior quality is faultless; the car feels built like a tank, but there is a slight step down in equipment levels. Even this top-end Elegance (the 1.6 is available only in this trim) misses powered mirrors, the rear-wash wipe and even a demister for the rear windscreen. Skoda has also removed a lot of the silver-finished bits around the dashboard but added a few chrome highlights.
We have one complaint though – this car looks way too close to the old car for comfort. Sure, the headlights and grille have been stretched outward and there’s a new front bumper with bigger foglamps, but even this is so subtle that you’d be hard-pressed to tell if one whizzed past you on the road.
There are absolutely no changes to the rear and even the ‘16v’ badging on the tailgate is the same as the old Fabia 1.4 petrol. The wheels and tyres are the same size as the old car and Skoda would have done well to give bigger wheels and wider tyres (at least on the 1.6). There’s also that big question mark over Skoda’s aftersales service. As for fuel efficiency, you can expect it to be slightly better than the Vento petrol, which means around 10kpl in the city and around 16kpl on the highway.
It’s hard to fault this car – its brilliant all-round ability, newfound performance and now realistic price means it really is fab.