A solid citizen
It’s the not so small city car
When Skoda returned in 2007 it did so as a member of the VW family. Its cars were based on VW models and were positioned below them as more affordable alternatives.
The Fabia arrived in 2011 and slotted into the city-car market below the VW Polo on which it was based.
Initially it was available as a five-door hatch and a wagon was added in 2012. The range was made up of the entry-level 77TSI and the specced-up 77TSI Monte Carlo.
The Fabia’s looks were a little more challenging than the Polo’s, the latter an attractive little car. Where the Polo’s lines were smooth and flowing, the Fabia had an upright stance and a high beltline with slab sides and rather stark lines. The high roof, however, meant those inside had a more comfortable ride with sufficient room not to feel squeezed.
The cabin felt quite roomy and was acceptably comfortable but was rather bleak with black plastics and little to make it a more pleasant place. Built in the Czech Republic, its mechanical package was all VW.
The engine was VW’s peppy 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbo (77kW/175Nm), enough to have it singing along happily in city traffic with plenty in reserve when extra zip was needed.
Combined cycle thirst of 5.5L/100km is commendable but the gloss is somewhat dulled by Volkswagen’s recommendation for premium unleaded.
Initially the Fabia was five‒speed manual only but the seven-speed dual-clutch auto option arrived in 2012.
On the road the Fabia was agile and responsive, its suspension soaking up the bumps well to deliver a comfortable ride.
The Fabia was not fitted with the dual-clutch DSG gearbox that gave VW such heartburn. The DSG box of 2012 was the seven-speeder rather than the troubled six-speeder.
There was a recall of Fabias with the DSG gearbox but that was earlier this year and affected MY13 cars.
The problem related to electrolysis in the gearbox, which could cause the synthetic oil in the DSG to separate. The resulting electrical short circuit could blow the gearbox fuse, causing the vehicle to lose drive and come to a stop.
When checking a potential Fabia purchase, examine the owner’s manual specifically for evidence that the recall has been conducted and any rectification has been done.
Also view the service record to be sure that your car of choice has been properly maintained.
Budget buys can sometimes be overlooked. We recall the case some years ago of a Skoda that was bought because it was cheap — and it was treated that way. Eventually the engine seized for a lack of oil and the owner faced a hefty bill for a new engine.
Solid, well-engineered car that performs well but struggles on the value-for-money scale in the toughest of tough markets.