Re­al­ity Czech

Skoda re­turned un­der VW’s ban­ner and the Fabia sa­luted, pleas­ing own­ers with thrift, com­fort and prac­ti­cal­ity

Herald Sun - Cars Guide - - USED CAR - SKODA FABIA

NEW

The Skoda brand was not new to Aus­tralia when launched in 2011 — what was new was that it re­turned to the mar­ket as part of Volk­swa­gen.

As a born-again mem­ber of the ex­tended fam­ily, Skoda sat be­low the main range. The cars were based on VWs but car­ried cheaper price tags.

The Fabia was con­sid­er­ably cheaper than its Polo cousin and the re­la­tion­ship wasn’t ob­vi­ous at first glance. The Fabia’s lines were more chis­elled and its bright high­lights set it apart.

In­side, the cabin was func­tional and some­what util­i­tar­ian but had com­fort­able ac­com­mo­da­tion for four adults. All oc­cu­pants, front and rear, en­joyed de­cent head and legroom, and there was a good amount of boot space.

Rolled out pro­gres­sively through 2011 and 2012, the range started with the 77TSI and Monte Carlo, fol­lowed by the hot RS.

The 77TSI, later to be badged the Am­bi­tion, and the RS were avail­able in hatch and wagon ver­sions, while the Monte Carlo came only as a hatch.

In the 77TSI/Am­bi­tion and Monte Carlo, the diminu­tive 1.2-litre turbo four-cylin­der still packed plenty of punch, pulling en­thu­si­as­ti­cally from low revs, while re­turn­ing im­pres­sive fuel econ­omy (though it re­quired pre­mium un­leaded).

The siz­zling RS was some­thing else again. It packed the 132kW punch of a 1.4-litre four-cylin­der en­gine that was both su­per­charged and tur­bocharged — a com­bi­na­tion that de­liv­ered in­stant low-end grunt cour­tesy of the su­per­charger and top-end per­for­mance thanks to the tur­bocharger.

The trans­mis­sion choices were a five-speed man­ual or, as the au­to­matic op­tion, a sev­en­speed dual clutch (DSG).

On the road the Fabia felt se­cure and re­spon­sive, the steer­ing was di­rect and the han­dling ag­ile.

NOW

There is a lot to like about the Fabia, as the re­spon­dents to our sur­vey told us. All said they loved their cars and few had any com­plaints about them.

Most praised the han­dling, the en­gine re­spon­sive­ness and the fuel econ­omy, though one re­ported his RS used a lot of oil, which is a sig­nal that the lit­tle Skoda is not with­out blem­ish.

As it shares the Polo’s me­chan­i­cal plat­form, the Fabia is sub­ject to the same prob­lems that af­fect the lit­tle VW.

The two main is­sues sec­ond­hand buy­ers should be aware of are the prob­lem­atic dual-clutch trans­mis­sion, and the high oil con­sump­tion of the 1.4-litre.

The 1.2-litre turbo isn’t af­flicted by high oil use, so any­one buy­ing a Fabia with the smaller en­gine can do so with con­fi­dence. Those buy­ing an RS should check with the seller to see whether the en­gine has been us­ing oil, and whether a dealer has con­ducted a con­sump­tion test on the car.

On the is­sue of the DSG. VW re­called a num­ber of cars in 2013 to fix prob­lems with the seven-speed dual-clutch gear­box, and Audi and Skoda were also caught up in it.

That re­call didn’t in­clude the Fabia but it’s worth be­ing ex­tra cau­tious when sign­ing up for a car with the DSG.

When test-driv­ing your po­ten­tial pur­chase, be alert for things like shud­der­ing or hes­i­tat­ing when shift­ing. If you’re not sure, have an ex­pert check it for you.

It’s worth not­ing that none of our sur­vey re­spon­dents com­plained about their DSGs.

Also check for a ser­vice record to con­firm the car you’re con­sid­er­ing has been prop­erly main­tained.

OWN­ERS SAY

David Scott I’m the happy owner of a 2014 77TSI man­ual hatch. I love the han­dling on coun­try roads, the en­gine with its ef­fort­less mid-range torque, the prac­ti­cal fea­tures like cargo hooks and the stor­age spa­ces.

Alan Wilson My 2013 model 77TSI meets my needs, it looks good, is well de­signed, the in­te­rior is good and it doesn’t use much fuel. Matthew Ren­shaw The RS is a good lit­tle car, the en­gine is punchy, it han­dles well and the fuel econ­omy is great, but it uses a lot of oil. Emma Ed­wards We haven’t had a sin­gle is­sue with our Am­bi­tion. It looks good, runs smoothly, it doesn’t use a lot of petrol, the boot is spa­cious and it has lots of great fea­tures.

SMITHY SAYS

Built in the Czech Repub­lic, the Fabia is a sound lit­tle car that gen­er­ally flies un­der the radar.

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