Skoda FabiaAfter the introduction of concessions by the government in favour of petrol cars with engine capacity up to 1200cc and length up to 4 meters to make small cars more affordable, there have been newer and newer technological innovations. Almost every company has launched their new generation 1200cc petrol engines which are efficient and with power output figures like never before for engines of that size.

These new generation engines are extremely refined, fuel efficient and a pleasure to drive in the city. But somehow, we believe, they are leave us wanting for more. The extra power that you need while you are cruising on the express-way past the green line. That extra power that you need when you are loaded full capacity and need to time your overtake. Let me re-iterate that they are good engines. But, having said that, they leave a true petrolhead slightly dissatisfied.

Very few companies dare to venture in the more powerful and exciting and able super 1200cc segment of petrol engines fearing being labelled as in-efficient in the very fuel-economy-sensitive Indian car market. We believe that in addition to the more sought after and frugal 1200cc engine options, a willing customer should have an option to go for the more powerful and exciting engines at a price. We applaud such companies who dare to offer such an option.
Hence, we were extremely excited and keen to drive the recently launched new Skoda Fabia especially in its 1600cc, 105 bhp petrol avataar. We were handed the top end Elegance variant of the Skoda Fabia. Read on to find out how the car unfolded.

Skoda Fabia

The moment you step into the Fabia, an air of class welcomes you. I still remember their original “Feel Special” tag-line with which the car was launched over two years back and how relevant it is even today. Dual tone black and beige interiors for the front dash and an all beige treatment for the upholstery and door panels is very very impressive. The quality of the fabric is very good. The plastic quality is top notch, built to last and soft feel unlike built to last plastic panels which usually feel hard.
The panels and switches are solid, placed ergonomically, are reachable and of good quality. Talking of quality, the ac vent adjustment knob for example is so solidly built compared to other cars where they have a flimsy and you are never sure when they break down feel about them. Little chrome accents add to the classy feel as well.
The four spoke steering wheel in the Fabia is the same as the one across the entire Skoda family and hence seen in the Laura and Superb. To begin with it appears slightly bigger that usual but that is a matter of getting used to. Telescoping and tilt adjustments to the steering column and height adjustable driver’s seat help in getting a suitable driving position with ease.
The air-conditioner is effective and it was able to cool the cabin on a hot November afternoon in Mumbai in no time. The top end variant is sans automatic climate control though.Skoda Fabia

The outside rear view mirrors (OVRM) are manually adjustable with the knob located conveniently for better reach.
The instrument cluster back light is green in colour which is very refreshing indeed compared to the blue, orange or crimson seen in contemporary cars.
The display of the factory fitted Skoda Beat two din music system is large and clear.
There is ample storage space inside the cabin with a large two compartment glove box which is lit. Skoda Fabia Interiors
The front anti-submarine seats offer impressive lumbar and good side back support for an effortless long drive. The rear seat also offers decent thigh support. There is enough leg and knee room for the front row of seats but the rear bench can get a bit crammed with respect to leg room. Three rear passengers can be seated with a very slight squeeze. There is ample storage space within the cabin with two glove compartments, one of which is lit.

Engine and power train:
Skoda FabiaThis is where the Skoda Fabia really gets our brownie points! This 1600cc motor is a fairly free revving engine all the way to the red line. To begin with, its extremely silent. At idle, you can hardly hear the engine revving and unless you look at the steady tachometer reading of 1000rpm its difficult to notice that the engine is running. One of our team members actually ended up cranking the engine while it was still running. That is how silent it is!
Slot the transmission into first and the ease with which you get off the mark makes you realize that even though the engine delivers its max torque and power at high rpms, it is reasonably “torque-y” at the low rpms as well. The second gear impressed us the most with respect to city drivability. From very slow bumper to bumper traffic to a quick overtake, the second provides that big range to minimize gear changes. You do not have to shift down to first nor do you need to up-shift for that urgent overtake. Just to give an idea of how much of a thrill to drive this engine is, we could get a 0-60kmph drag in 6.38 seconds and a 0-100 in under 14 seconds. Any gear you are in, any speed range, press the throttle and you get the response without any noticeable lag and that is a testimony to the favourable gear ratios and a useful max torque figure of 153 Nm @ 3800 rpm. The max power of 105 bhp is delivered at 5250 rpm which ensures that the engine doesn’t run out of steam and delivers a surge of power all the way to the red line.Skoda fabia
The gear lever is placed ergonomically and shifts are short but when it came to slotting ease, we were not exactly impressed and hoped it was more like its VW cousins especially for a car in which the rest of the package encourages a spirited drive which may often require seamless gear shifts.

Ride and handling:
Skoda FabiaThe Fabia sports a suspension which is quite comfortable and soaks in the bumps and keeps the cabin un-rattled and at the same time offers just the adequate stiffness while cornering. Owing to this the Fabia has very little body roll while taking corners even at significant speeds which is quite commendable. The Fabia steering is electronically assisted which is a pleasure at low speeds and city manoeuvring. Hence, at lower speeds it gets good marks but when you belt the Fabia, at high speeds, the steering just does not offer as much feedback as we would like. It does not have any play whatsoever unlike some of the other implementations of electronic power steering which is a huge relief. It displays good cornering ability, holds a tidy line but the lack of feedback can at times fail to inspire that confidence in the driver’s mind. But having said that we will not hesitate to give the ride and handling habits of the Fabia a well deserved 7/10.

Not much has changed in this department with the Fabia. Some minor tweaking with the light cluster, front fog lamps and front bumper skirting. It still is that fairly universally appealing pleasant looking hatch with a premium air to it. The elegance variant that we drove had alloy wheels as standard which are quite impressive. The quality and fit and finish is as good on the outside as inside. The doors are solid and shut perfectly and rarely require a second attempt which is very typical of the Skoda cars.Skoda Fabia

Driver side air bag is standard across all variants with co-passenger airbag standard from the middle variant. ABS , Dual stage brake assist, Motor Speed Regulation and Engine braking control make their way into the Elegance variant. Front and rear fog lamps are also present from the middle variant as well. What the new Elegance variant does away with is rear wash wipe, rear demister and defogger which can very handy features for a hatch.Skoda Fabia

Overall evaluation:
This is a lovely car! Available only in the top end Elegance trim variant and more importantly, at just Rs. 30,000 more than the Fabia Elegance 1.2 petrol, we find it very very attractively positioned! The competitive pricing (Rs. 581,000 ex-showroom Maharashtra and Rs. 599,000 ex-showroom New Delhi) comes at a cost of some luxury and convenience features that were part of the Elegance before the face-lift but having said that, it is fairly equipped. A good quality product with an engine and powertrain which will never cease to put a smile on your face. With competition from the VW Polo 1.6 which is priced higher and the Fiat Grande Punto 1.4 which is more loaded, the Skoda is an attractive alternative with its solid German engineering and build quality. I just hope that Skoda’s effort to improve the company’s ownership experience and after sales does produce results. At the cost of repetition, lovely product indeed!


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