A solid cit­i­zen

It’s the not so small city car

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Car - GRA­HAM SMITH grah.smith@big­pond.com

NEW

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.

NOW

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.

SMITHY SAYS

Solid, well-en­gi­neered car that per­forms well but strug­gles on the value-for-money scale in the tough­est of tough mar­kets.

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