In the world of cars, doing a lot with a little is a quality small hatches have down to a fine art. Even better, they do so at a price that doesn't break the bank.

For my weekend test, I was thrown the keys to the 2018 Skoda Fabia 81TSI.

Priced at $19,890 before on-road costs it is $400 pricier than the model before it. Our test car however came with a number of extras (Sports Pack, metallic paint and cruise control speed limiter) which pushed the price to $22,580. Those aren't the most expensive options available either. It's already stretching the friendship.

If it's any consolation the Fabia does come armed with an impressive list of standard equipment including Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility, rear parking distance control, AEB, a tyre pressure monitoring system, and leather trim for the steering wheel.

So, does the Fabia live up to the small hatch reputation of delivering a lot with a little? My kids and I had the weekend to find out.

Saturday

Our driving schedule for the day included trips to the local Woolies and nearby park for the kids to use their scooters.

Finished in 'Quartz Grey Metallic' paint ($500) and sitting on 17-inch 'Clubber' alloy wheels (part of the Sports Pack for $1800) it's quite boxy. Its side profile is interesting and features a combination of angles and pronounced creases that run the length of the car.

It sits on 17-inch 'Clubber' alloy wheels, and looks a little '90s. It sits on 17-inch 'Clubber' alloy wheels, and looks a little '90s.

It looks a little harsh, reminding me of hatchbacks from the '90s – definitely not helped by the colour. The front end includes Skoda's signature grille and incorporates LED daytime running lights.

We piled into the Fabia to discover the grey theme continues with dark plastics the material of choice throughout the cabin. The cloth seats are simple and provide reasonable amounts of comfort. Overall there's nothing special about it.

The grey theme continues inside. It's simple, but not special. The grey theme continues inside. It's simple, but not special.

At 305 litres, the boot is one of the largest in its class, but it didn't quite meet the requirements for my three kids and all their gear. Weekend bags plus the addition of three scooters meant folding down one of the seats to accommodate with the two in back having to sit close quarters together. There is enough room for three across providing they are all under 12 years old.

At 180cm tall I was able to sit behind my driving seat with roughly two centimetres of legroom and heaps of headroom to spare. For those with younger kids the Fabia has two ISOFIX child seat anchorage points behind the driver and passenger seats.

The boot is one of the largest in its class, but it didn't quite meet the requirements for my three kids and all their gear. The boot is one of the largest in its class, but it didn't quite meet the requirements for my three kids and all their gear.

Dash design is no nonsense with the 6.5-inch touchscreen taking centre stage. It's crystal clear, bright and incredibly easy to use. Thankfully Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard as in-built sat navigation is a $950 option – it's not worth the extra. Inputs for the SD card, USB and auxiliary for audio, plus a 12-volt power outlet reside underneath.

Thanks to rather soft suspension, ride and handling around the city provided decent levels of composure. Suburban driving proved slightly more challenging with the numerous speed humps and potholes making a concerted effort to upset the car's composure.

 The 6.5-inch touchscreen is crystal clear, bright and incredibly easy to use. The 6.5-inch touchscreen is crystal clear, bright and incredibly easy to use.

Acceleration in and around traffic was patchy at low speeds with some noticeable hesitation from the 'DSG' dual-clutch auto transmission when attempting to exit out of tricky situations.

Although storage in the Fabia is reasonable, cupholders are in short supply with only the one up front. There is however plenty of space in the doors for bottles and a decent size glove box.

Skoda has added some quirky touches including a phone holder incorporated into the cupholder and small rubbish bin with waste bag located in the driver's side door.

Sunday

Our plan included a trip to the park in the morning and then beach in the afternoon covering an estimated 150km of mostly urban driving.

The engine marks the key change to this 2018 model. Gone is the 1.2 litre four-cylinder turbo engine replaced by a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo matched with a seven-speed DSG transmission. Outputs for the Skoda 81TSI are 81kW/200Nm (up from 175Nm in the previous model).

Outputs for the 1.0-litre engine is 81kW/200Nm. Outputs for the 1.0-litre engine is 81kW/200Nm.

There's a decidedly simple formula to the Fabia that means there's little else for the driver to do but get in select 'Drive', press the accelerator and go. It may have modest outputs but when called upon displays a willingness and surprising amount of pep. Steering is well weighted and reasonably direct.

Once at speed the DSG selects gears with far more surety than when crawling in traffic jams. The Fabia doesn't feel exactly sporty or fun but it's incredibly easy to drive and made light of work of suburban hills and city sprints while taxiing myself, three kids and gear on all our various trips. Engine noise is hardly noticeable inside the cabin.

The weekend finished off with a trip to the beach which again required every inch of available space to fit our gear using the rear split seat. With both rear seats folded down there is 1125 litres of cargo capacity, which is impressive for a small hatch.

The Fabia has been gifted with an impressive list of standard safety kit, including rear-view camera, multi-collision brake – which take over the braking for you if the driver's airbag is deployed - and AEB (which I experienced first-hand in slow moving traffic). It also comes with six airbags: two at the front, two at the sides and two curtains.

During my weekend taxiing the kids I covered around 300km of suburban driving with the trip computer displaying a fuel consumption reading of 6.9 litres per 100km by Sunday night. This puts it 30 per cent higher than Skoda's claim of 4.7L/100km. It's worth noting the Fabia sips 95 RON premium unleaded.