Skoda Fabia hatchback 2012 review
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Small it might be, but Skoda's Fabia hatch is giving the Czech company a big boost. The arrival of the Fabia late last year helped Skoda double its sales for the second year in a row and kick off a flying start this year with sales up by more than 90 per cent for the first two months.
There are two models - the $18,990 77TSI and the $21,990 Monte Carlo - and they undercut the Volkswagen Polo on which they are based by almost $1000. The Fabia's strengths are its lively performance, frugal fuel use, equipment and spacious interior.
The question is whether that gap will be retained at re-sale or will the Polo hold its value better. Time will tell. Direct rivals on price are the Ford Fiesta and the Suzuki Swift. Agile and energetic, the four-door Fabia looks chunky and feels nuggety and is a lot of fun to drive.
Explore the 2012 Skoda Fabia range
It is powered by Volkswagen's 77TSI engine - a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol which produces 77kW and 175Nm across a useful range of 1500 to 4100rpm.
Despite its modest capacity it has enough oomph to launch the lightweight 1120kg Fabia to 100km/h in a respectable 10.1 seconds.
Fuel use on the combined cycle is just 5.5l/100km but it prefers premium unleaded. It is mated to a five-speed transmission although a seven-speed direct shift gearbox is on the way.
The cheery exterior is carried over inside with a bright dash and clear, easy-to-use instruments and controls, although the quality of the trim is not up to the Polo. Front seats are supportive with plenty of head and leg room, the rear seat has adequate room for its class and the boot is generous.
Standard equipment on the base model on test included six airbags, stability control, a four-star crash rating, airconditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth, tilt and reach adjustable steering column, an eight-speaker single CD audio system with MP3, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and phone controls, cruise control, heated mirrors and fog lights.
The Monte Carlo adds 16-inch black alloy wheels, sports seats, sports steering wheel, black wheel arches, and alloy pedals. Also on the way this year are a wagon version and a high performance RS 132 hatch.
The engine is eager and flexible, pulls easily from low revs around town and is relaxed on the highway with enough torque to tackle hills in top gear. The gear shift itself is quick and slick and the clutch has a smooth and progressive uptake.
With a wide track, longish wheelbase and a stiff body, the Fabia handles like a civilised go-kart. It corners with a taut, flat stance, turns in accurately and has excellent grip.
Ride is firm and well controlled and compliant over lumps and broken edges. The steering is direct and well weighted and the brakes strong.
Range and Specs
|77 TSI||1.2L, ULP, 5 SP MAN||$3,900 – 6,270||2012 Skoda Fabia 2012 77 TSI Pricing and Specs|
|77 TSI Monte Carlo||1.2L, ULP, 5 SP MAN||$5,100 – 7,920||2012 Skoda Fabia 2012 77 TSI Monte Carlo Pricing and Specs|
|RS 132 TSI||1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$6,000 – 9,240||2012 Skoda Fabia 2012 RS 132 TSI Pricing and Specs|
|77 TSI||1.2L, PULP, 5 SP MAN||$4,700 – 7,590||2012 Skoda Fabia 2012 77 TSI Pricing and Specs|