Skoda Fabia 1.2: The both-and-car

We all have to make compromises every day, in jobs, families, friends. Anything else would not be conducive to a harmonious coexistence. The developers of the Skoda Fabia was faced with the challenge of combining opposites in the third generation of the small car. To make the Fabia more dynamic than the overly brave predecessor, for example, but at the same time at least as practical. Both meet the aspiration of the up-and-coming Skoda brand and do not position the Fabia too strongly against the VW Polo from the parent company. To lure young customers with individualization and connectivity, as well as not to scare the old one.

The developers have largely succeeded in doing this. An example of this is the fairly tight chassis and the comfortable direct steering, they offer an excellent middle ground for the Fabia application area: dynamic maneuverability in the city, but at the same time sufficient comfort to cover longer distances.

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The often competing disciplines of design and space have also developed favorably. The almost four-meter-long body is sharper, instead of retro-chic, the front and rear are now striking. The fashionable contrast paint (roof, exterior mirrors, A-pillars, rims) in white, black or silver is in the price list for not exactly cheap 920 euros. With nine centimeters more width and three less heights, the five-door vehicle is more solid on the road. And although the new Fabia is almost as long as its predecessor, the interior gains space.

The tested 66 kW / 90 hp turbo petrol engine (from 13.740 euros, test car price: 16.920 euros, “Style” equipment), which is also used in the VW Polo, is roughly in the middle of the range of services offered by the petrol and diesel engines - As far as progress is concerned - an adequate middle course for motorization. If it comes out of the speed cellar only lame, punch and elasticity beyond the turbo lag are absolutely sufficient for most situations in life.

The four-cylinder doesn't go through as a joke, not even at the petrol station: Our test car consumed an average of seven liters, the manufacturer specified 4,7 liters. One limitation is that on the one hand the driver is tempted to shift down more times and to increase the gears, precisely because the Fabia pulls through better in the higher speed range. On the other hand, consumers, like the extremely firing heating in the very comfortable seats, naturally demand their share in winter.

Which brings us to the interior. The new generation is stylishly designed, at least in the highest “Style” version in which the test car was shown (16.920 euros). Customization options are also available here, for example you can have your own photo attached to the glove compartment as a decorative film. The Fabia remains at a distance from the VW Polo with more hard plastic. And the overall impression - from the insulation (loud driving noises) to the workmanship (clattering door panels in our test car) - works like a compromise between ability and cost.

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Skoda has made the most obvious compromise with the Fabia when it comes to navigation systems. Only three percent of Fabia II buyers ordered the permanently installed Amundsen system, which is currently not available for the Fabia III. According to Skoda, the "cheaper, more versatile and more up-to-date" alternative: The smartphone of the Fabia driver is connected to the car via a USB cable, the "Mirror Link" system reflects the 80 euro "Sygic" navigation app (and of course other applications) on the board screen. The prerequisite for this is the “Bolero” infotainment system, which is not very cheap with an extra charge of 650 euros (220 euros for “Style”) and can only be ordered from the second equipment level. It currently only works with a single phone, HTC One. Google Auto and Apple's Carplay should follow at some point.

Skoda provided an HTC for the test. The connection, however, showed some teething problems. For example: Although the navigation app could be programmed while standing using the 6,5-inch touchscreen, as soon as the car started to move, the map disappeared and a black screen showed "App not available while driving". Not really sensible, Skoda also admits and assures that it is a mistake on the part of the smartphone or the app. Normally, the map with the directional instructions will of course continue to be displayed while driving.

According to Skoda, a similar error has not yet occurred, but it exemplifies a concern that concerns a lot of drivers, who are not digital natives and who use their smartphone mainly for photos, what's app messages and emails in addition to making calls: works all of this really and isn't that terribly complicated? By the way: In the future, the Fabia will again offer a permanently installed navigation system.

Author: Hanne Lübbehüsen / SP-X

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