RAY MASSEY drives fourth-generation Skoda Fabia


Skoda’s new fourth-generation Fabia hatchback rolls out of showrooms in early spring — more than two decades after the original version rocked the car market. 

With orders open, I’ve been driving one ahead of first deliveries to remind myself how far the Czech marque has come in that time. It’s also grown, being the first Fabia to exceed 4 metres. 

Launched in 2000, the Fabia became Skoda’s stylistic and engineering game-changer that made people sit up and take notice, helping Skoda shed its former reputation as the butt of jokes. 

Proven performer: The fourth-generation Fabia demonstrates staying power

Proven performer: The fourth-generation Fabia demonstrates staying power

I well remember turning heads when driving an early pre-launch model through London’s ­Docklands, City and West End, with onlookers asking if it were a new Audi. 

The fabulous new Fabia offers a choice of four frugal 1-litre 3-cylinder petrol engines: 65, 80 96 and 110hp. A range-topping 1.5- litre 150hp engine is to follow. Initially, there will be four trim levels with prices from £15,305 for the entry level Hatch S with only a 5-speed manual gearbox; £17,195 for the SE Comfort; £19,380 for the S EL which I drove; and £17,895 for a more playful and personalised Colour Edition aimed at ‘gadget-focussed’ owners. A sporty Monte Carlo trim is to follow imminently. 

All bar the S offer a choice of 5- speed and 6-speed manual and 7-speed automatic DSG gearboxes. My S EL fitted with that 7-speed auto transmission, priced from £20,730, is a nifty, comfortable and practical run-around which accelerates decently to 62mph in 9.9 seconds up to a top speed of 127mph. It’ll do up to 50.4mpg with CO2 emissions at 128 to 137g/km. 

It’s spacious and well-appointed with a free-standing 9.2-in infotainment screen and is the first Fabia to have a heated front windscreen and steering wheel.

In the latest EuroNCAP safety crash tests, it won all five stars and has wheel options from 15in to range-topping 18in alloys. 

It’s got a big, flexible and practical boot increased to 380 litres (1,190 litres with rear seats down). There’s even an umbrella in the door. 

Everything covered.

Higher trim levels have a 10.5 inch Virtual Cockpit driver’s dashboard in place of the standard version.

It’s built on a new VW Group platform which means although longer and bigger, it’s no heavier.

Body lines in the front doors are designed to replicate the characteristic triangle in the Czech flag.

There’s a choice on nine colours including vibrant new Phoenix Orange and sober Graphite Grey metallic.

For a brand that has built its name on value for money, it’s getting proper posh, and is not always that cheap.

Over three generations, more than 4.5 million Fabias have been sold worldwide since 1999, including 375,000 in the UK alone.

Founded officially as Skoda in 1925, but with a history stretching back into the 19th century, it began as a prestigious European car-maker before pre-war invasion by the Nazis and then post-war occupation by the Soviet Communists, meant it ceased to be a mainstream player until the Volkswagen Group took over control after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War.

Will it fit in my garage? New Skoda Fabia (4th generation) 

Model: Skoda Fabia Hatch SEL

Engine: 1.0 TSI 3 cylinder 110 horse-power (PS) petrol

Transmission: 7-speed DSG automatic

Price this model: £20,730

Fabia model range: from £15,305

Length: 4108mm

Width: 1780mm

Height: 1459mm

Wheelbase: 2564mm

Weight: 1660kg

0 to 62mph: 9.9 seconds

Top speed: 127mph

Fuel efficiency: 47.1 to 50.4mpg

CO2 emissions: 128 to 137g/km

Boot: 380 litres

Rear seats down: 1190litres

FABIA FACTS

On sale in UK since 2000

Total global sales: 4.5million

Total UK sales: 375,000

Fabia Mk 1 (2000 – 2007): 142,500

Fabia Mk2 (2007 – 2014): 128,200

Fabia Mk3 (2014 – 2022) 104,100

Fabia Mk4 (2022 – )

UK sales 2019: 15,319

Qashqai is Britain’s safest car 

Nissan’s Qashqai has been named as Britain’s safest car. 

The Sunderland-built SUV, priced from £22,875, took the top safety gong at this week’s WhatCar? awards in a section judged by experts at Thatcham Research in Berkshire, which carries out UK tests for new cars in Europe (­EuroNCAP). 

Britain's safest car: Nissan's Qashqai took the top gong at this week's WhatCar? awards

Britain’s safest car: Nissan’s Qashqai took the top gong at this week’s WhatCar? awards

As well as scoring top rating and more than 90 per cent in three of the four crash-test categories, the Qashqai recorded one the highest-ever ‘safety assist’ scores at 95 per cent. 

It comes with passive and active safety features, reverse automatic emergency braking (AEB) and centre side airbags. 

Matthew Avery, Thatcham’s research strategy boss, said the Qashqai had ‘brought high-end safety features to the mass market without breaking the bank’. 

Ford Mondeo lives on – in China 

Fancy a next generation Ford Mondeo? You’ll have to go to China. 

As Ford ends production of the enduring classic in the UK, Europe, and most of the rest of the world, from March, the Mondeo name — created to embrace the ‘world’ — will live on only on in the People’s Republic. 

Eastern promise: The car came to represent Middle Britain as former PM Tony Blair in the late 1990s and 2000s pitched for the votes of 'Mondeo Man' and woman

Eastern promise: The car came to represent Middle Britain as former PM Tony Blair in the late 1990s and 2000s pitched for the votes of ‘Mondeo Man’ and woman

There a fifth-generation Mondeo goes on sale in with a choice of a turbocharged 1.5-litre and a 2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, with a plug-in hybrid to follow. 

The car came to represent Middle Britain as former PM Tony Blair in the late 1990s and 2000s pitched for the votes of ‘Mondeo Man’ and woman. 

Ford blames its demise on ‘changing fashions’ spearheaded by the boom in demand for SUVs. 

  • Car insurance has risen by 7 per cent in the past three months as the cost of living rises, say comparison site MoneySuperMarket. 

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